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The Pret Foundation: Expert advice for the hospitality sector

Pret A Manger has employed 250 Ukrainian refugees as part of its initiative set up to support those fleeing the conflict. The Pret Foundation, a charity arm of Pret A Manger, launched this programme in April 2022 following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As well as offering employment, the initiative provides one-to-one counselling and English language tuition for Ukrainians. The latter is especially important as many Ukrainians arriving into the UK, either under the Ukraine Family Scheme or the Homes for Ukraine route, will speak little to no English. As such, this is a great initiative to support Ukrainians with their integration into UK society, especially after the experiences in their home country.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the hospitality sector has seen a record increase of job vacancies in the past 2 years, which has forced some businesses to reduce their opening hours. By creating this programme in conjunction with the Ukrainian Schemes, it has assisted in reducing some of their staff shortages. The project has had great success since its inception with many Ukrainians progressing to roles such as chefs, baristas and front-of-house staff as well as two members commencing an assistant manager course this year.

If you wish to employ a person who is not settled in the UK, and does not fall under the Ukrainian Schemes, you will need to apply for a Sponsorship Licence. While the application process can seem daunting at first, it can be quite straightforward and fast, often concluding within 8 weeks. Once you have been granted a sponsorship licence by the Home Office, you can then apply for and assign Certificate of Sponsorships to prospective workers. Subsequently, this will allow workers to apply for a visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa, so they can begin working for you.

How we can help

Using a comprehensive legal service will save you and your business both time and money. At Irwin Mitchell, our Immigration team has an excellent success rate with all visa applications that we do from start to finish, including Sponsorship Licence applications. 

If you want to find out more about our immigration expertise, please contact Mandeep Khroud at

Launched in April 2022 following the Russian invasion, Pret’s Ukraine Employment Programme offers refugees arriving in the UK job opportunities at Pret shops through its charity arm, The Pret Foundation.

The vast majority of those employed on the programme are women whose partners and families have stayed in Ukraine, some to fight in the war and others because they are unable to flee the country.

In less than a year, several of the women have progressed to roles such as chefs, baristas and front-of-house staff serving Pret’s freshly-made food and organic coffee to customers at over 100 shops across the country. Some have risen to become kitchen and front-of-house team leaders, while two will be starting an assistant manager course this year.”