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Made homeless 13 times - now set to be a chef

Theodore Pilgrim

Theodore Pilgrim

A Mansfield man made homeless 13 times has praised Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC)’s community courses for boosting his dreams of becoming a chef.

Theodore Pilgrim (27), who suffers from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), spent three years living on the streets during his teens and early 20s, facing hunger, extreme weather conditions and poverty.

But while staying at a homeless shelter in Sherwood Street, Mansfield, 18 months ago, he took part in a cooking on a budget course and has since joined an open access course at Brunt’s School for Oriental Cookery. He is now living in a flat in the town centre, studies at Vision West Nottinghamshire College and aims to become a chef. He said: “I have had some really dark times while homeless – the experience of extreme hunger was probably the worst, but for some reason I was unable to get out of the cycle of being made homeless for years. I really enjoyed taking part in the cookery courses and it has helped to give me new skills and hope for the future.”

He was praised with other learners at NCC’s annual awards ceremony as part of the NIACE National Festival of Learning, at Rufford Abbey.

Another award winner was Jodie Wharmsby, 30, from Kirkby in Ashfield. The mother of four took part in a waxing and spray tanning course managed by the county council’s ACLS team in partnership with Sutton College two years ago, and is now offering beauty sessions to clients at Hetty’s charity shop Donate and Dazzle in Main Street, Huthwaite, a charity for which she is also a volunteer mentor.

Jodie had initially left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and her experience of education was hugely dented by a lack of confidence. But while pregnant with her fourth child two years ago, Jodie decided to take up driving lessons and passed her test at the second attempt.

Her new found independence provided the momentum for her to look at further self-development opportunities and she read about the ACLS course in health and beauty from a leaflet through her door.

She has since gone on to study several short courses in the last two years including learning practices around ear piercing, manicures, pedicures and hair extensions and followed this up with securing professional qualifications at beauty salons in some of these course areas.

Jodie said: “The community courses managed by the county council have been wonderful as they have helped me to build my self-confidence and I had a really supportive tutor, Linda Smith. I now enjoy learning and feel I have come such a long way and I would encourage others to look at what opportunities are out there.”

Jodie’s tutor Linda Smith, at Sutton Community Academy, in High Pavement, Sutton-in-Ashfield, added: “When I first met Jodie she was very shy and under confident, she brought along members of her family to courses for support until she felt able to come along on her own.

“She had her confidence destroyed and slowly we got her to a better place where she believed she had a talent which she enjoyed. She is now a lovely student who helps others.”

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For more details please contact Simon Redfern in the Nottinghamshire County Council press office on 0115 9773791 or email simon.redfern@nottscc.gov.uk

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