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Health & Wellbeing

Young People

Free chef training and support for 16-24 year olds

Blue Marble Training Documentary

About the Blue Marble Training Approach

Blue Marble provides chef training and support to young people aged 16 – 24 who are not in employment, education or training, who have often faced challenging life circumstances.

Independent evaluation of the programme carried out by University of East London found that most Blue Marble Trainees have experienced combinations of crime, homelessness, addiction and physical or mental health problems.

Perhaps as a result of these harrowing experiences at formative stage of development, many young people have not been able to fulfil their potential in mainstream education or services.

Blue Marble Training takes place in a live kitchen, offering experiential learning in an exciting environment where lack of knowledge, literacy or numeracy are not a barrier to success. A package of intense personalised training and support, in a small group setting, helps many young people who have had negative experience in previous learning or training environments.

 “The great thing about your programme is the hands on approach from the get go which is well suited to our clients who have tried mainstream college and education and did not excel. The programme is great at keeping the young person engaged.”

Hezz Sooklal, St Giles' Trust

Programme Aims

The programme provides a salutogenic environment, the scaffolding needed for young people who have experienced severe and multiple disadvantage to overcome adversity by making sense of their experiences and developing their strengths and resilience.

Training aims to equip young people not only with a professional skill that offers extensive employment opportunities, but practical tools for independent living, such as bank accounts, budgeting skills, time-keeping and identity documents.

More importantly it offers frameworks to develop self-confidence, self-care, self-understanding and self-expression.

At the simplest level this could be encouraging a young person to complain about a worry or concern before it boils over into anger or violence. At its most complex it may involve multi-agency working to ensure a young person’s voice is heard during criminal justice or care proceedings.

The scheme also fosters a sense of connection to others. Many trainees report that the feeling of being needed and trusted as part of the kitchen team is invaluable. Shared meals and social activities increase this sense of belonging, which is especially important for young people who have often been at the edges of society.

Approaches to mental health

Recognising the adverse life experiences of many trainee chefs on the programme, Blue Marble Training employs a narrative therapy model, framing difficult experiences as part of a life journey, rather than as identity defining.

All Waterhouse restaurant chefs and front of house staff are trained in narrative therapy approaches, with regular clinical supervision, offering trainees a consistent psychologically informed environment.

Many staff members have overcome adversity themselves, providing a sense mutuality and a basis for respectful connection.

Approaches to physical health

Levels of childhood obesity in Hackney are high, reflecting the wider social determinants of health. The programme offers trainees daily access to free high quality food, prepared with fresh ingredients. For many this increases the breadth and balance within their diet, and ensures they are able to eat at least 2 meals a day. Culinary training ensures the young people on the project have the skills to prepare a wide variety of recipes, and as training advances, understanding cost per portion calculations enables trainees to budget both at home and in a professional restaurant setting.

Blue Marble Training includes weekly sessions with a personal trainer, with a range of activities from boxing, to football and cardio to support physical and mental wellbeing.

Groups on personal and social education are also included (e.g. sexual health, equal opportunities, relationships and consent), supporting well rounded growth.

“I feel as though the BMT fitness training has helped me get more fit since I have started and feel more energised physically and mentally. I wasn't able to sleep at night-times before but since I've started the training it's helped me get to sleep earlier and feel better throughout my day to day life. I feel less fatigued and stronger when I'm at work and also when I do everyday activities. It has helped me to also think more positively.”

Halimcan, Blue Marble Trainee

Career Opportunities

Trainees become part of a tight chef team in an operational kitchen, experiencing teamwork and learning skills that will enable them to find jobs in the industry when they are ready.

Additional training and personal development opportunities, such as the City and Guilds Level 2 in Food Safety and Hygiene for Catering qualification, Accredited First Aid Training, fieldtrips and stage placements offer trainees the opportunity to learn new skills, discover their personal preferences and gain real experience in the kitchen, both cheffing and training others.

Blue Marble Training is well-connected to high profile hospitality industry representatives in kitchens across London, giving trainees who wish to pursue a future in the catering industry the best possible prospects. Events facilitated by Blue Marble offer trainees the opportunity to gain paid work when they are ready to move on from the training scheme.


Blue Marble Training produces a welcoming team, who build strong bonds as they spend time working in a fast-paced, sometimes high-pressure environment together. The tight-knit, caring unit, offers trainee chefs a sense of belonging and mutual respect.

The pastoral support provided by the programme facilitators makes sure that no one is left to struggle through tricky situations on their own. Blue Marble Training seeks to support and nurture participants and alumni, and provide them with the support network, skills and knowledge they need to become independent.

 “Speaking to trainees on a regular basis I know that the support and mentoring that you provide to them on a one to one basis is instrumental in the progress they make, and without exception they always speak so highly of you.” Stephen Bullock, Metropolitan Police Constable

“We wanted to say a massive thank you for all the amazing work, you and your team have completed with the young person re referred to your programme. He loves the placement, it has given him an incredible sense of achievement, self-esteem and value, and your input with his recovery has been invaluable.” Tower Hamlets Early Detection Service, Clinical Nurse 

Life Changing

Blue Marble Training offers young people in negative situations the opportunity to turn things around for themselves and embark on a positive path. It offers structure to their lives, enabling them to spend time constructively, and the chance to open their minds and embrace new experiences.

BMT helps trainees to improve and develop their social skills, putting them in situations where they interact with people they would not otherwise have come into contact with, in an environment where strong communication is crucial.

The chance to create something that is relished and appreciated by someone else provides an unparalleled sense of achievement and accomplishment for trainees. Often, other forms of training, apprenticeships and education are out of their reach at the point that they join us. Being able to offer the individualised support that is needed to guide participants forward is central to what makes Blue Marble Training unique.

Evidence of Efficacy

An independent evaluation of Blue Marble Training by the University of East London revealed that:

  • 56% of young people using the programme are, or have been, ‘looked after children’
  • 45% have experienced homelessness
  • 58% have a drugs and/or alcohol dependency
  • 49% have a mental illness
  • 36% have been convicted of a crime
  • 65% of young people on the programme are young black men
  • 100% of the young people on the programme expressed that they fell into more than one of these categories.

The report, which analysed all young people who used the programme from 2012 and 2017, also found that:

  • 62% of trainees on the programme went on to secure employment in the hospitality and catering industry as chefs;
  • 27% secured employment in other industries;
  • 12% percent went back into further education or college.

Download the full evaluation of the programme by the Centre for Social Justice and Change, School of Social Sciences, University of East London

Meet the team
Amrit  Bhachu
Amrit Bhachu
Head Chef ¦ Lead Facilitator for Blue Marble Training
Doreen Balogun
Doreen Balogun
Community Coordinator and Training Facilitator
Femi Ade-Davis
Femi Ade-Davis
Project Manager, Young People¦ Safeguarding Lead
Martin Remias
Martin Remias
Kitchen Porter and BMT Support
Sec Khuang San
Sec Khuang San
Sous Chef / Deputy Facilitator
Funders & Supporters

Mayor of London supported by grey cmyk


Blue Marble Training is kindly supported by the Worshipful Company of Bakers and the Department for Education 'See Hear, Respond' fund managed by Barnardo’s.


To refer a young person to the programme email: or call: 020 7033 8501 or 020 7033 8587