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Aston Villa and South & City College Birmingham partner to launch Villa Catering Club
From left to right: Shivali Patel (South & City College, Hospitality & Catering Lecturer), Chris Hayden (South & City College Business Consultant), Anthony Reece-Thompson (Education and Skills Manager, AVFC), Mark Laurie (Director of Nationwide Caterers Association, NCASS)

The project will provide students with real-life work experience, qualifications in hospitality and catering, alongside advice on setting up food businesses.

Delivered at Villa Park in partnership with Digbeth Dining Club CIC, the Nationwide Caterers Association and the college, the 16-week programme has been funded by the Premier League and Professional Footballers’ Association Community Fund and is available free of charge to people over the age of 16. The project will help to support the hospitality industry which has struggled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ross Alexander, Aston Villa Foundation Manager, said: “The programme was created to help address unemployment in Birmingham and the challenges the hospitality industry has faced since the pandemic.

“Support from the Premier League and PFA Community Fund has enabled us to respond to local needs and develop projects alongside strategic partners. It’s great to have such reputable industry-leading organisations on board and we hope the relationship will be long lasting and successful.”

As a local and fast-growing food business, Digbeth Dining Club CIC was keen to be involved with the project. Jack Brabant, who founded the Digbeth Dining Club, said: “When we set up Digbeth Dining Club CIC, we had a goal to go into the community and help young people get the skills and the knowledge to get into hospitality and even set up their own businesses. We’re really excited to finally get this off the ground.”

Mark Laurie, Director of the Nationwide Caterers Association, said: “We got involved to try and develop entrepreneurs and young people and help them to develop their own businesses, and we’re hoping that working with Aston Villa will give them that opportunity.”

South and City College Birmingham will be delivering hospitality and catering qualifications to support the young people taking part in the programme.

Jacqui Maher, Assistant Principal Innovation and Developments at South and City College, said: “South and City College are really excited to be involved in this project, it’s absolutely fantastic for us and we’re really happy to be involved.”