Train and find employment through the ESF

Thanks to a European Social fund training Eva Gyulai learns professional cooking and find a job in a restaurant.

It is a weekday lunchtime, and every table at the Ízlelő (’Titbit’) restaurant, in the town of Szekszárd in Hungary, is occupied. Along one wall of the bright, cheerful room, a wooden climbing frame and a pile of toys are proof of the place’s ‘family-friendly’ approach. But as well as mothers with young children, the varied clientele includes couples, older people and local office workers.
In the busy kitchen, 33-year-old Éva Gyulai helps to prepare the dishes.
For Éva, this means understanding her colleagues by lip-reading – she has been almost totally deaf since birth, when a medical error and an overdose of oxygen permanently damaged her hearing. Seven of the restaurant staff have disabilities, and came to work at Ízlelő thanks to a local training project co-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund. The Blue Bird Foundation, established in 1997 with the aim of promoting a society offering opportunities and choices for all individuals, launched the LIFT Likeliness – Integration – Full employment – Training project in June 2006, and has helped 36 unemployed young people with low educational levels and disabilities to acquire new skills to enable them to find work.
Bad work, low pay

Born in Szekszárd, Éva attended a special residential school for deaf people in Budapest until she was 16. There she learnt to lip-read, before returning to her home town to complete her school certificate. But getting a decent job was not easy. She started doing unskilled piecework, sewing nappies in a factory.
Before long, Éva met and married her husband Zoltán, who works for a local printing firm, and the young couple moved in with his parents. When their two sons, Àkos, ten, and Balázs, seven, were born, she was glad to take maternity leave to look after them. Balázs has asthma and eyesight problems that have required two operations already, and held him back a year. But when both boys were ready to start school, Éva was eager to look for a different kind of job.
A new beginning

She heard from another mother about the LIFT project, and signed up as one of 16 people on the catering course (a further 20 learned building skills). The training lasted for a year, and during that time she received a salary from the project budget. In September 2007, she qualified as a cook and got a job at the family-friendly restaurant – which the Foundation also runs – together with six of her colleagues who do the cooking, washing up and waiting at table.
The Ízlelő kitchen prepares up to 140 meals each day, 40% of them for takeaway customers. The head chef and dietician together select healthy menus that will appeal to young people. The restaurant already supplies lunches for the Foundation’s own family day-care centre, and plans to expand to cater for a local primary school. Àkos likes to eat there when his parents take him.
And other customers agree that the restaurant offers good quality and reasonable prices.
The taste of freedom

With a reliable second income, Éva and Zoltán have been able to realise their dream of buying a home of their own.They moved into their house outside Szekszárd in December 2008, relishing the challenge of renovating the property. The good-sized garden has vines and fruit trees. Zoltán is looking forward to learning about wine-making, while Éva’s priority is growing apples to make her own apple pies, and planting flowers.
Éva feels fortunate to have found the Ízlelő restaurant.

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