Scran Academy: Catering for the Community

| Rachel Berry

“The idea behind Scran Academy is to help disadvantaged young people to gain the skills and confidence to thrive in education, employment and life,” says Charlie Johnson, Youth Development Coordinator at Scran Academy. The catering social enterprise is based in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas, in North Edinburgh, Scotland.

Scran was founded in 2017 by local man and former Big Brother winner John Loughton. The team work with two local high schools to receive referred pupils onto their course. For two days each week, young people work with local chefs to develop menus, make food and deliver products and events in Edinburgh – including a Christmas hamper, of which they sold 60 in 2018. They complete two SQA modules in employment skills and working in hospitality, and a food hygiene certificate. They also work with Charlie to create personal development plans, which is the first step to helping them realise their own goals for the future. 

“We try to treat the young people as colleagues, rather than as children” says Charlie. “We are dependent on them. We might have an event on in a couple of weeks time, we’ve agreed a menu and we need them to deliver it – we’re a small group of staff and volunteers and we can’t do it ourselves. It becomes a much more equitable relationship and empowering process.” 

Charlie says Scran’s mission is about helping young people to realise their own social mobility and supporting them to develop the skills and the confidence they need to achieve their goals. One of Scran’s early graduates joined the programme when she moved to the UK from The Gambia. She had no formal education and very little English. She’s now a trainee youth worker. 

Another young person was completely disengaged with education, but joined Scran because John knew his brother. “During his 18 months at Scran, he worked out what he wanted to do was to be outside and doing manual work,” says Charlie. “He’s now working full time with a scaffolding company. He’s 18 years old, financially independent and is a positive influence in his community – whereas I think he would say himself that if it wasn’t for the support that we were a part of then he probably would have been in prison by now.” 

Scran Academy celebrated its second birthday in October, and is continuing to grow. The first goal is to sell 75 Christmas hampers this year. Plans are in the works for an online tuck shop and pop up restaurants. But for Charlie, the main goal is simple: “We want to support unemployed young people into work and help excluded young people to be able to return into education. The catering side of things is a vehicle for that. Days at Scran are intense, hard-working days for everyone, but it’s like when you work hard with any team, you end up having fun and having a laugh, too.”

To find out more about Scran Academy’s work pay a visit to their website.

Photo by Scran Academy.

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