PricewaterhouseCoopers has announced a three-way partnership between the private, public and third sectors to help disadvantaged individuals develop skills and find work through a new restaurant and cookery school in Tooley Street.
The new enterprise based in the 1879 former fire station on Tooley Street will be run by PwC with chef Simon Boyle and his Beyond Food Foundation, De Vere Venues and the School for Social Entrepreneurs.
The fire station will be fitted out with a social enterprise bistro, wine bar, private dining and event business (including a training and demonstration kitchen); a social enterprise business centre and office space for training 40 social enterprise students every year.
The social enterprise bistro, wine bar and private dining event business, named 'Brigade', will be managed by De Vere Venues, and supported by the Beyond Food Foundation's Freshlife Training and Apprenticeship scheme.
It will provide a location for individuals who have experienced homelessness, and other vulnerable groups to participate in a catering training and an apprenticeship programme.
The bistro, wine bar and private dining venue will open to the public in the autumn, with the kitchens and training overseen by Simon Boyle.
The redevelopment of the Fire Station is funded by PwC, the Beyond Food Foundation (through a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency's Place of Change Programme) and De Vere Venues, with support from Big Issue Invest
PwC – which has its new London headquarters next door – says that it will actively support the social enterprise business centre through volunteer time and financial support including reinvesting the profits from 'Brigade' back into the local community.
"We want to create a centre for social enterprise innovation, combining private, public and third sector expertise, and a flagship for business and social enterprise partnering," says PwC managing partner Richard Collier Keywood.
"The parties we've brought together bring that to life.
"Like any business, social enterprises need to build the capacity to operate at scale if they are to be able to compete for the opportunities that are now on the table.
"Ours is an ambitious approach and it only works because all three of the public, private and third sectors have come together. No-one would have achieved this alone."
Simon Boyle added: "This is a project we're all incredibly passionate about, it gives us all a chance to build a fantastic business that supports the underprivileged by giving them a career in one of the most exciting industries around.
"The standards we set at the fire station will be exceptional, we're not just nurturing cooks here, we're creating brilliant chefs."
• A private medical centre is expected to open on the upper floors of the fire station building