IF you asked Wahid Rashid last year if his idea for a refugee cafe would open in just five months, he would most likely have laughed.

But his whirlwind project is now giving refugees the chance to fulfil their dreams of one day setting up their own businesses.

The new Refugee Café has officially launched at Millside Community Centre, where people are being trained up with hands-on experience while completing business, hygiene and cooking exams.

From the Congo and Saudi Arabia to Bradford, the chefs are working towards their level two hygiene qualification with Bradford College, which will allow them to work in any food restaurant in the UK.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

One of those on the scheme is a 42-year-old woman who came from Morocco to Bradford.

She told the Telegraph & Argus: “It’s just lovely.

“I like to cook for people. I like hospitality so I'm quite popular in Bradford! I like to share with them what I know. Some people don't know where Morocco is.

"When I heard about it (the scheme) I came straight away and asked if I can join it.

"I've never done any cooking professionally.

"Everybody can bring something from where they know. I'm hoping to open my little business, a cafe to sell little dishes.

"I wish that it doesn't stop with this group. We need it for others."

People of all ages and nationalities are taking part in the project but a shared passion for food brings everyone together.

22-year-old Experito Kiyingi , originally from Kenya, also hopes to open his own restaurant after the course is complete.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

He feels the Refugee Cafe is an opportunity to build on his restaurant experience in Africa and integrate into British society.

He said: "I've got to know more about cooking different types of salads, different ways of cooking. It gives experience to us.

"It inspires me.

"Bradford is vibrant."

And hearing this positive feedback makes everything worthwhile for Wahid, refugee engagement co-ordinator with Bradford Council and Skills House, who has already noticed real talent in his 15 chefs.

The team has already signed their first catering deal for an event.

Wahid said: "All the refugees want to work. They have plenty of experiences in the countries they come from, not the UK experience.

"For me when I'm doing something I want it to be sustainable and this project is still continuing.

"I spoke to Millside and they were more than happy for this idea to go ahead. I spoke to Bradford College and they were happy to support it. They cover the credential side of it.

"These projects can sometimes take years to get off the ground. We all worked together.

"I think it'll help people. It's to create pathways for them.

"The motivation and drive they have is unbelievable."

  • The Refugee Cafe will open Wednesday to Friday between 11.30 to 2.30pm for lunch.