Former chef who slept rough in Norwich to return to kitchen at new market stall
A former chef who became a rough sleeper in Norwich will be returning to the kitchen to work alongside the social enterprise that helped him back on his feet.
Rob Sampson fell into a spiral of depression, drug addiction and rough sleeping after the death of his wife, which, at his lowest ebb, saw him standing on a platform at Norwich train station.
But a delayed train, timely call from a hostel and subsequent help from LEAP saw his luck change and for the best part of the last year, he has been volunteering with the organisation.
Now, he will return to preparing food - in his old sleeping spot - after LEAP’s trading arm, The Feed, raised £20,000 through a crowdfunding page to set up a food stall in Norwich market.
He said the stall, which will be staffed by people from disadvantaged backgrounds, will give the organisation a face and would raise awareness of how easy it is to become homeless.
“Homeless people, they’re invisible,” he said. “You walk past them every day and everybody’s got a story. It could be your father, your son, anybody could be homeless just like that. It happens quickly.
“That’s why this stall is such a great idea - it gives a face to The Feed so people know what we are about.”
He said he would be going back to college in April to complete a coaching and mentoring course.
LEAP hopes to open the stall next month and having hit its crowdfunding target more than two weeks early, is hoping to raise an extra £5,000.
Andrew Baker, hospitality catering coach for The Feed, said Mr Sampson’s confidence levels had gone “through the roof”.
“He’s an awesome chef so it’s really great to have him on the scene,” he said.
“His confidence levels are through the roof now, it’s so great to see. Like I said, he had the skills but his confidence was so low... Seeing him grow has been awesome.”
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