love middlesbrough logo love middlesbrough logo love middlesbrough logo love middlesbrough logo love middlesbrough logo


Published 9th Mar 2017

Len Thurlow, Fork in the Road apprentice

Charity-led Middlesbrough eatery The Fork in the Road is hoping to cook up a career for Len Thurlow after he became the restaurant’s first apprentice.

Working with Stockton Riverside College, the not-for-profit project on Linthorpe Road plans to create a number of apprenticeships through works experience opportunities.

Backed by Middlesbrough-based national charity CEO Sleepout, The Fork in the Road is run by experienced catering professionals who mentor trainees including ex-offenders, those in recovery from addiction and the long-term unemployed.

Len, 22, accepted The Fork in the Road’s offer to become their first apprentice after impressing during unpaid works experience.

Andy Preston, who is the driving force behind the restaurant as chairman of CEO Sleepout, said: “What we loved about Len is that he voluntarily carried out some unpaid works experience for us, and would happily walk the three miles from his house in Thorntree and back home afterwards just to improve his chances of a job.

“Lots of people wouldn’t do that for an unpaid shift, but Len displayed a fantastic attitude and commitment right from the start.

“He does whatever we ask of him and always does it to the best of his ability, whilst being ready to listen and learn.

“He’s a big lad and he referees in the Northern League, which many people – me included – couldn’t handle, but he’s really benefiting from the boost in confidence his first ever job is giving him.

“He’d never been in trouble with the law but has struggled to find work and needed a chance. We’re really happy to help build a future.

“To see someone as committed as Len is to finding work is impressive. He really wants that chance and I hope he continues to wow us.”

Len said: “Working here’s great and I’m really grateful to The Fork in the Road for giving me this opportunity. I’m determined to succeed and am working hard to do that.”

Len was introduced to The Fork in the Road via the local branch of national charity Street League, the UK’s leading sport for employment charity, dedicated to helping young people move into sustainable employment via the power of sport.

He will be trained in all aspects of hospitality through his year-long apprenticeship, which is being administered by Stockton Riverside College.

Andy added: “Len’s been learning a variety of front-of-house skills including greeting customers, serving food, drinks preparation and cleaning up.

“The apprenticeship is for 12 months but we’d hope he stays on with us for a number of years to gain high level skills, and who knows? Maybe he could be senior employee here in the future. The opportunity is certainly there for him.

“Through our Fork in the Road training academy at Stockton Riverside College, we’re now looking to give more long-term unemployed works experience opportunities that could lead to apprenticeships.”

The restaurant recently welcomed award-winning Louie Miller as its new head chef, who will be responsible for transforming Teessiders who’ve been long-term unemployed into a new generation of talented chefs.

Along with CEO Sleepout, The Fork in the Road and upstairs Bar Zero project is funded by Public Health England, with input from charity Recovery Connections and Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health Department.

Around the World in 80 Bites at Bank Holiday Orange Pip

A bank holiday weekend bounty of gastronomic delights is coming to Middlesbrough on Saturday, May 27, with the monthly Orange Pip Market.

Students help gymnasts with Special Olympics preparation

Students from Teesside University are working with a team of gymnasts with special needs to help send them to a prestigious national tournament.

Dundas Food and Craft Market

More than 20 independent market stalls bring the best of local food, drink and gifts at the Dundas Indoor Market this weekend.

Lights, camera, action during Dementia Awareness Week

The King and I proved to be a hit at Cineworld’s dementia friendly film screening today (15 May) with more than 120 people in the audience.