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A new future is on the menu for a Teesside restaurant’s apprentice chef after putting behind him a past of unemployment and homelessness.

Jordan Franklin was unemployed and homeless before landing the apprenticeship with Middlesbrough eatery, The Fork in the Road.

Now the 21-year-old is thriving in a position he’s held for seven months, his new colleagues have helped him find a new home and the restaurant’s head chef believes he has a bright future in catering ahead of him.

“With our help, Jordan is transforming his life and his future,” said Andy Preston, the driving force behind the charity-run restaurant on Linthorpe Road.

“It’s fantastic to see, but it’s all down to his own hard work, commitment and a passion for catering. He loves being part of our team and they love him.”

Jordan got a taste for cooking whilst studying for an NVQ in Catering at Stockton Riverside College, but it is only since housing group Coast and Country introduced him to The Fork in the Road that his fortunes have changed.

Having lost his flat after failing to keep up rental payments, Jordan was technically homeless, spending his nights “sofa surfing”, sleeping in the living rooms of friends and family members.

He admitted: “I got into the wrong crowd, got into trouble and then lost my flat, so I’d made some bad mistakes.

“Sofa-surfing for six months was tough, but now the staff here have helped me find a new place to live and I’ve saved up and got myself a bike to come to work on.

“I love working at The Fork in the Road. The staff are so supportive of me and I know it’s opening up opportunities for me, so I can hopefully make a career for myself in catering.”

Head chef Chris Burton, who has worked in restaurants and hotels across the country over the past 22 years, said: “I’ve got a lot of time for Jordan. You can teach cooking skills but the difference is that he naturally has it in him to be a good chef.

“He’s had a really tough start in life but there’s definitely a career for him in catering if he continues to learn and show the same positive mentality.

“He’s a changed man in terms of confidence and self-belief since he joined us just a few months ago.”

Now Jordan’s looking forward to starting part-time catering studies to complement his time in the kitchen at The Fork in the Road – and then the world’s his oyster.

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.

The unique restaurant also helps to fund Bar Zero, a dry bar situated upstairs that provides an important social facility for Teesside’s recovery community.

Along with CEO Sleepout, both projects are supported by Public Health England, input charity Recovery Connections and Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health Department.

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