24 year-old Kamal, is one of the apprentices from the inaugural Galvin’s Chance programme. After her selection and pre-employment training she undertook a fortnight’s work experience at Galvin at Windows Restaurant, where she impressed her managers sufficiently to be offered a full-time role. Kamal has since become a fantastic ambassador for Galvin's Chance and has attended graduation ceremonies and fundraising events, seeing other young people into the programme.
What did your job involve at Galvin at Windows?
I worked at the bar, serving guests with drinks at their tables, making sure that they have everything they needed and helping to keep the bar in good shape. Working at such a prestigious location meant that I met some amazing people - there really never is a shortage of interesting guests there. It can get very busy, particularly at the weekends and sometimes just as you think things are quietening down a big group from a function at the hotel will arrive.
On a normal day work can be from 4pm until 2am and then I'd take the night bus home. It can be a tiring shift and you constantly need to be alert. I really enjoyed meeting new people and working under pressure though, and the work is always interesting. I’ve been really enjoying life now as a result.
Have you always been interested in a career in the hospitality industry?
I had done quite a bit of part-time work in catering and hospitality over the last few years, working at functions in various locations around the country. That meant that I knew I enjoyed a lot of things about this kind of work. It was still a big shock starting at Galvin’s though as the standard of service demanded is so much higher than almost anywhere else.
What were you doing before Galvin’s Chance?
To be honest I had been in quite a low place before I started with Galvin’s Chance so I was very grateful for the opportunity to turn things around. I had been doing part-time work for a few years, doing a lot of sport, and things had been fine. Then some of my friends and family started to become really bad influences on my life and I had been getting in trouble. I spent some time in prison for hitting someone and had a few other things going on in my life. It had got so bad that I was actually sleeping in the bed next to Baby P’s mother in a cell at one stage last year. When my probation officer told me about Galvin’s Chance I jumped at the opportunity to do something positive again, went to the workshop and carried on from there.
What improvements do you think could be made to the Galvin’s Chance programme?
Personally I found the process to be very helpful. The two week preparation course with Springboard built up a lot of confidence and all the training was good. It was a bit of a shock to start the work experience though, and perhaps next year there could be some location specific training included as part of the programme. It was a tough introduction but you sometimes need to be thrown in at the deep end to start swimming. I know from talking to the other staff that I went straight into a job and an environment that normally takes several years to get to, so it’s been a great opportunity.
What do you see as some of the main challenges facing young people in London at the moment?
I live in Greenford in West London and there is a lot of gang culture around so it can be easy to fall in with the wrong people. Kids on the street often talk about the rewards they would like from life – the money and the fast cars – but rarely about the hard work needed to get there. There’s sometimes a lack of role models and examples of alternative choices. Hopefully now I can be that example in my area and let people know that there are lots of choices and opportunities out there.
What are your plans for the future?
For the moment I’m really enjoying working in the industry and hopefully I can keep improving in it. I’d also be interested at events management, so if I get enough experience that’s something I’d think about doing in the future. I’ve also just broken the European junior record at the Bournemouth World Power Lifting Championships so that’s something I’m going to try to build on too in my free time!
Kamal has worked with the W hotel and Le Caprice since completing the Galvin's Chance programme.