Pret A Manger offers new hope to 25 homeless Britons
The new recruits have been taken on the three-month scheme with a view to gaining permanent positions.
While training, all the apprentices will receive full pay and benefits, while Pret is also giving them £100 to buy work clothes, covering their travel to and from work and helping them to set up bank accounts. On graduating, all being well, they should also be rewarded with a full-time job and a £100 gift voucher.
The individuals have been chosen by Pret after working with eight charities and community projects in and outside London before inviting potential candidates for an interview and placing them within the business if they are successful.
Nicki Fisher, who is in charge of the Pret A Manger apprenticeship scheme, said: "These apprenticeships provide a second chance for people who may have been written off by society. Through working, the apprentices are able to get themselves out of hostels and into their own accommodation. They can also make a whole new set of friends break the cycle of homelessness.
"If a permanent role is available and the apprentice has done well, they will be offered full-time permanent employment after three months. If not, they will at least leave Pret with work experience to put on their CV and references."
According to Pret's figures, more than 75% of the apprentices recruited to its scheme - which has been running for some time now - stay with the company permanently.
Londoner Jay Tarrant, 25, is one of them. He found himself homeless for six months after suffering a personal tragedy, but joined the apprentice scheme in October 2009.
He graduated successfully from the scheme and was offered a full-time permanent position in January 2010, at which he is now working hard.
Tarrant said: "Being a Pret apprentice put me back on my feet and gave me a fresh start. The whole experience has given me discipline and responsibility but Pret is also a fun place to work. I love working with the public and my colleagues and hope to build a career here."