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Kitchen heaven for budding North Tyneside chefs

Budding chefs are being given the best chance to succeed thanks to a new partnership.

A brand new, state-of-the-art, training kitchen has been launched at YMCA North Tyneside in North Shields.

It is part of a £227,650 development at the facility, which has seen the ground floor transformed into a new cafe, reception area and entrance on West Percy Street.

The training kitchen is a result of a newly-formed partnership between YMCA and the Employment and Skills Service at North Tyneside Council.

It will give students, including long-term unemployed, young people in alternative education and those with extra needs, the chance to hone their culinary skills in a professional environment.

They will receive high-quality training as well as access to jobs in catering and hospitality.

Bridgett Thornton, Programme Manager, explained: “We offer a range of courses for various types of learners - sector skills courses are for six weeks and learners have the opportunity to do an additional eight weeks work experience.

“When learners are ready they are then placed with external employers where they are given additional training and a guaranteed job interview at the end.

“All other learners attend a two day a week course over 34 weeks where they experience classroom learning, work placement and get the opportunity for work experience at an external employer.”

Steve Pugh, Head of Operations at YMCA North Tyneside, said: “The new training kitchen is a fantastic addition to what we are able to offer here now the major redevelopment work is complete.

“I’m really excited about the prospect of getting the community closer to the work we are doing with young people here.

“We want people to come into the building and be wowed so we will be working really hard to maintain high standards and service levels.”

Sixteen students have already signed up for the cookery training course and their creations will be enjoyed by customers in the new cafe.

Gemma Tapsfield, 28, from Whitley Bay, has been whipping up all sorts of delicious goodies, including cheese scones, cakes and quiche.

She said: “I’m hoping to learn how to make really good cakes and I would love to work here permanently eventually.”

Connor Potter, 15, a pupil at PALS at Churchill Community College, added: “My goal is to get into the catering industry and when I feel confident enough I want to run my own restaurant so this training will give me the experience I need.

“I’m hoping to get an apprenticeship at YMCA before eventually being employed here as a chef.”

The training kitchen was unveiled as part of the official launch of the new facilities at YMCA.

North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn attended the event and said: “When I walked into the new entrance and turned the corner I just thought ‘wow’.

“Everyone involved in this project has done a fantastic job and I am extremely pleased and proud of our partnership project which will help us give our young people the best chance to succeed.

“There are so many amazing people in North Tyneside doing great things and this is a really important part of that.”

The new cafe at YMCA North Tyneside is open Monday to Saturday, 8am to 5.30pm. For more information call (0191) 257 5434 or visit

Find out more about training opportunities and careers at here.