Aurora Foxes, a specialist hospitality training college for young adults with learning disabilities, has launched the Flying Fox food truck on the Minehead Promenade outside the Foxes Hotel.
The truck will give Foxes’ students the opportunity to cater for a variety of events, from food fairs to music festivals, boosting their skills and confidence while preparing them for employment in the hospitality industry. It has been funded by a £30,000 grant from the Hilton Global Foundation, which aims to have a positive impact on the communities that Hilton hotels serve.
Previously known as Foxes Academy, the college equips students with skills and training to find sustainable work in the hospitality sector and live independently. Hilton has been a partner of Aurora Foxes since 2015, offering placements and work experience to students from the college. Since the partnership began, Hilton has provided work placements for over 30 Foxes’ students and is set to offer a number of placements later this year. Currently there are seven Aurora Foxes graduates employed in six of Hilton’s hotels. Foxes’ students work towards nationally recognised qualifications and complete work experience at businesses across the UK.
Emma Cobley MBE, Principal, Aurora Foxes, said: “It’s always thrilling to watch our students flourish in a professional environment and, thanks to the Hilton Global Foundation, we’ve been able to purchase the Flying Fox – a wonderful new catering truck which will provide our students with an exciting new avenue for hospitality training. Finding fulfilling work is so important for our mental health and wellbeing, and we believe those who are able to work shouldn’t be locked out of the workforce. With the right support, employing someone with a disability can be a positive experience and helps to promote a happy and inclusive workforce.”
Steve Cassidy, managing director, UK and Ireland, Hilton, said: “Nurturing diverse talent is hugely important to us – and our close partnership with Aurora Foxes not only furthers these aims but has such a positive impact on our hotels where students come to work with us. Aurora Foxes has been a fantastic partner for us over the years and I’m thrilled that we’re offering a number of additional work placements at our hotels later this year. As we continue to build on our partnership, I look forward to seeing the benefits of the Flying Fox truck on the lives of students – and to tasting the delicious food they create.”
The truck – supported by a team of Foxes’ students – will welcome customers on the promenade three days a week throughout the summer term, serving a selection of paninis and rice boxes. Foxes’ students will be running the truck, learning outdoor service skills including food preparation, hygiene and storage.
Mark Costello, chief executive officer, The Aurora Group, said: “The Flying Fox truck will be a great learning experience for the students and will really help to showcase the positive benefits of employing a young person with a learning disability. Around three quarters of Foxes’ graduates enter sustained work when they finish – which is more than 10 times the employment rate for people with learning disabilities nationally. Our partnership with Hilton has been invaluable in achieving this – time and again we’re impressed by how well they harness and develop the unique talents of our students with first class training. The hospitality experience they gain does so much to help our students enter the world of work with the confidence and skills required to lead successful lives.”