LONDON - Aurora Foxes, a specialist hospitality training college for young adults with learning disabilities, has launched the Flying Fox food truck on the Minehead Promenade outside the Foxes Hotel.
The truck will allow Foxes’ students to cater for a variety of events, from food fairs to music festivals, boosting their skills and confidence while preparing them for employment in the hospitality industry. It has been funded by a £30,000 grant from the Hilton Global Foundation, which aims to have a positive impact on the communities that Hilton hotels serve.
Previously known as Foxes Academy, the college equips students with skills and training to find sustainable work in the hospitality sector and live independently. Hilton has been a partner of Aurora Foxes since 2015, offering placements and work experience to students from the college. Since the partnership began, Hilton has provided work placements for over 30 Foxes’ students and is set to offer a number of placements later this year. Currently, there are seven Aurora Foxes graduates employed in six of Hilton’s hotels. Foxes’ students work towards nationally-recognised qualifications and complete work experience at businesses across the UK.
Emma Cobley MBE, principal, Aurora Foxes, said, “It’s always thrilling to watch our students flourish in a professional environment and, thanks to the Hilton Global Foundation, we've been able to purchase the Flying Fox - a wonderful new catering truck which will provide our students with an exciting new avenue for hospitality training. Finding fulfilling work is so important for our mental health and wellbeing, and we believe those who are able to work shouldn’t be locked out of the workforce. With the right support, employing someone with a disability can be a positive experience and helps to promote a happy and inclusive workforce."
Steve Cassidy, managing director, UK and Ireland, Hilton, said, “Nurturing diverse talent is hugely important to us – and our close partnership with Aurora Foxes not only furthers these aims but has such a positive impact on our hotels where students come to work with us. Aurora Foxes has been a fantastic partner for us over the years and I’m thrilled that we’re offering a number of additional work placements at our hotels later this year. As we continue to build on our partnership, I look forward to seeing the benefits of the Flying Fox truck on the lives of students – and to tasting the delicious food they create.”
The truck – supported by a team of Foxes’ students – will welcome customers on the promenade three days a week throughout the summer term, serving a selection of paninis and rice boxes. Foxes’ students will be running the truck, learning outdoor service skills including food preparation, hygiene and storage.
Mark Costello, chief executive officer, The Aurora Group, said, "The Flying Fox truck will be a great learning experience for the students and will really help to showcase the positive benefits of employing a young person with a learning disability. Around three-quarters of Foxes' graduates enter sustained work when they finish - which is more than 10 times the employment rate for people with learning disabilities nationally. Our partnership with Hilton has been invaluable in achieving this - time and again we're impressed by how well they harness and develop the unique talents of our students with first-class training. The hospitality experience they gain does so much to help our students enter the world of work with the confidence and skills required to lead successful lives."
Foxes case studies
Team Member Case Study: Geor-Dan*, commis larder chef, Hilton Birmingham Metropole
Currently, an employee at Hilton Birmingham Metropole, Geor-Dan, 27, will soon be embarking on her level 2 apprenticeship after graduating from Aurora Foxes in 2016. In her role as commis larder chef, Geor-Dan is responsible for food preparation, including salads, sandwiches, starters, and packed lunches. Despite dealing with the daily challenges of ADHD and moderate learning difficulties, Geor-Dan has excelled in her role and is a highly valued member of the kitchen team.
Geor-Dan said, “I love the environment of working in the Larder Kitchen Team at Hilton Birmingham Metropole! My training at Foxes and work at Hilton have together taught me the importance of teamwork and how to thrive in a busy kitchen environment. My favourite part of the job is the atmosphere at Hilton and working closely with my team who walk me through daily tasks, so that I can learn more quickly. I dream of one day becoming a waitress or chef – working at Hilton has given me the confidence and skillset to work towards this goal.”
Team Member Case Studies: Thomas*, food & beverage guest service assistant, Hampton by Hilton High Wycombe
Thomas, 24, graduated from Aurora Foxes in 2020 and now works as a food & beverage guest service assistant at Hilton High Wycombe. Thomas prepares breakfast and helps to keep the hotel lobby and kitchen clean and tidy. Throughout his time at Hilton, Thomas has grown in his responsibilities and become a cherished member of the team.
Thomas said, “Working at Hilton has been the perfect start to my career after graduating from Foxes. During my time at Foxes, I learned all about working in a hotel and becoming more independent, skills that I now use daily. My favourite part of my job is helping our guests feel as welcome and comfortable as possible and making new friends in my team. In the future, I hope to work in the kitchen at Hilton – I love cooking (and eating!) Italian food.”
Team Member Case Study: Ella*, food & beverage assistant, Hilton London Kensington
After graduating from Aurora Foxes in 2019, 24-year-old Ella has embarked upon the first steps in her hospitality career through the work placement programme at Hilton London Kensington. Ella joined the food & beverage team as a food & beverage assistant and works across the kitchen and bar.
Ella said, “Working at Hilton is amazing! I’ve made some great friends and love working as part of a team. They’ve really helped my confidence grow as I take on new responsibilities. I really look forward to going to work each morning and my favourite part of the day is helping out in the restaurant and I enjoy our team lunch. My dream job is to one day work in the bar and serve customers directly, but I am happy where I am now working closely with a really supportive team.”
Notes to Editors
*Only first names are shared at the request of students and graduates from Aurora Foxes.
In 2019, the Hilton Global Foundation revealed Aurora Foxes as one of its 15 grantees, which funded the food truck development. Hilton Global Foundation Grants are aimed at having a positive impact on the communities Hilton serves, including supporting inclusive growth and providing youth opportunities. Aurora Foxes is the first British organisation to receive one of the grants, which is valued at £30,000.
About Hilton Global Foundation
The Hilton Global Foundation is Hilton’s primary international philanthropic arm. The Foundation is a non-profit established in the U.S. and is a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization. The Foundation awards grants, in alignment with Hilton’s Travel with Purpose 2030 Goals, that have a positive impact on travel destinations around the world. Foundation grants are awarded throughout the year in accordance with tax and legal requirements. Learn more about the Hilton Global Foundation at HiltonEffect.org.
About The Aurora Group
Established in 2015, The Aurora Group is the UK’s fifth-largest provider of education, care and support services for children and young people with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. Aurora works with over 80 funding authorities across the UK, who commission a mixture of day, outreach and residential placements. The Aurora Group is part of an inspiring B-Corp movement, placing gold-standard social and ethical values at the heart of all it does.
Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising more than 7,000 properties and more than 1.1 million rooms, in 123 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For list and been recognized as a global leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for five consecutive years. Hilton has introduced several industry-leading technology enhancements to improve the guest experience, including Digital Key Share, automated complimentary room upgrades and the ability to book confirmed connecting rooms. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the nearly 146 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can't buy. With the free Hilton Honors app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone. Visit stories.hilton.com for more information, and connect with Hilton on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.