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Dans le Noir?, the celebrated dining in the dark restaurant staffed by blind people, and the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, collaborated to host a gastronomic dinner.
The dinner was held on Wednesday, March 9 2015, for Centrepoint’s vulnerable 16-25 year-olds to celebrate Dans le Noir?’s 10th Anniversary and decade of successful charitable ventures.
Homeless young people will experience heightened flavours by enjoying a gastro dinner in the dark. The menu at Dans le Noir? has evolved over the past 10 years and in November 2015, Michelin star chef, Julien Machet, was hired to consult and help John Houel, the London Head Chef, create the four eclectic menus.
Dans le Noir? and Centrepoint are joining forces to maximise awareness of the difficulties that blind and homeless young people face when trying to get into employment.
Dining in the dark challenges people’s preconceptions of other people
Mind-blowing Gov.uk statistics estimate that 16% of working age adults are disabled. Recent statistics show that only 46.3% of disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of non-disabled people, making it a significant social issue. Additionally, disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment in work.
“Given that the level of homelessness in London has – sadly – grown over the past 4 years, it’s fantastic to see initiatives like this from Dans le Noir? aimed at helping young homeless people,” says Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem London Mayoral Candidate 2016.
“I would encourage other employers across London to explore if they could help develop schemes like this which offer a route to support people in furthering their skills through training and employment and a way in to permanent housing.”
“One of the remarkable things about Dans le Noir? is that it turns the tables on the sighted, who are rendered virtually helpless by the blackout conditions and are entirely dependent on blind people to guide them. It’s a great experience for diners but by creating these rare conditions where blind people are better off, it also brings home just how hard it can be to find work if you have any kind of disadvantage. That’s something that young homeless people also know all about, and this is a fantastic joint initiative by Dans le Noir? and Centrepoint to draw attention to those difficulties. It’s my privilege to be a part of it and to find out what practical things I can do to help if I’m elected to City Hall in May,” said Shahrar Ali, No 3 on the Green Party London Assembly.
“I commend the work of Dans le Noir? and the way they have helped blind people to gain employment,” noted Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, Green Party, “With so many homeless people on the streets it would be wonderful if more companies could support those who are furthest from the job-line to help them to get back into employment.”
“Our guides are incredibly skilled and challenge the perception that blind or visually impaired can serve in a restaurant.”
Restaurateur Edouard de Broglie, who founded Dans le Noir? in Paris in 2004, says that 50 percent of his staff have a high disability, yet they still operate an efficient and profitable company. “We have an incredibly low staff turnover which shows the dedication of our long standing team. We want to show big companies that those with disabilities shouldn’t be limited to performing only menial jobs. Our guides are incredibly skilled and challenge the perception that blind or visually impaired can serve in a restaurant. Who could have said that 10 years ago?” says de Broglie.
Sadie Odeogberin, Head of Skills and Employment, at Centrepoint, says: “The number of young people rough sleeping in London has more than doubled in the last four years, but providing a safe place to stay isn’t enough to solve the youth homelessness crisis. Like Dans Le Noir?, we’re committed to helping those furthest from the world of work achieve their ambitions. Homeless young people are every bit as talented as their peers and with the right support and hard work they can fulfill their potential.”
Dans le Noir? is located at 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU
PHOTO ©NIGEL HOWARD: (left to right) Edouard de Broglie, residents of Centrepoint Tia Forbes and Zinaida da Costa, Caroline Pidgeon MP, Dans le Noir? waiter Roberto Rebecchi.