“From Brighton to France” my Erasmus journey
By Walter Kreslins
With the help of a course at The Platform, Walter Kreslin has turned his life around through his Erasmus experience opening his own Coffee Shop with his other half and business partner Mandy in Brighton.
We went to visit him sampling a Veggie Croque Monsieur Croissant with a lovely Café au Lait:
My journey with Erasmus started back in 2016. And I never expected it to be as unforgettable as it was. Everything started when I broke my leg in two places, which made me jobless and I spend next two months at home, was advised to register as unemployed not knowing that it would become handy later on.
As I started to recover I started to look for job, being in the hospitality trade for quite long time (16 years) naturally I was looking for a job in this particular sector. The job market in Brighton particularly in hospitality is really tough as so many people are going for the same job. At the end I didn’t have any luck whatsoever so I figured to look in different directions.
By total accident I found this advert by company called The Platform. For those who don’t know Platform is a social enterprise helping and providing training in Brighton and Hove for unemployed people and supporting other businesses to grow. The advert was about a training program in Horticulture, 5 week training altogether, 3 weeks in Brighton and other 2 week placement in Northern France. But you had to be unemployed and on benefits, so this is where being unemployed became handy.
I was accepted for the course which was City and Guilds Level 1 in Horticultural skills and all of that within the framework of the Erasmus program which is European Union funded student exchange program.
I kind of knew what Erasmus does as one of my good friends did an Erasmus year in Orléans years ago and I went to see him couple times. So I got a good general understanding what Erasmus+ does and how it works. I was really intrigued by it.
When I was accepted for this course it was a good feeling to be a part of a big European educational institution which has done so much good over the years.
I have always liked gardening, always have tried to help my family or friends in their gardens. So I it was really exciting for me to find out what the course gonna be about. There was 8 of us and 2 tutors. We spent the first three weeks learning, refreshing our memories about gardening and getting to know each other.
We learnt the basics of horticulture in Stanmer Park in Brighton.
And then came beginning of our real Erasmus experience in France which was mind blowing. We were taken to Eco Chateau in Northern France, Basse-Normandie which became our base for next couple weeks.
The atmosphere and the climate between us students, tutors and owner of the Chateau was wonderful from day one. I still can’t believe that more then 10 people living and working together side by side could come together so easily.
We were working and learning hard during the day and relaxing, drinking wine, eating great home cooked meals and sucking up French culture, as much as we could, in the evenings. This is was what I call an exchange program as its best.
We learned a lot from our tutors, our field trips and each other, involving music, great French food, board games and conversations. And all of that thanks to Erasmus+ and The Platform, without them this experience and learning trip wouldn’t have happened.
Now 2 years later with my other half and my business partner Mandy we have opened our own coffee shop, The Lanes Coffee Shop in the Brighton Lanes which has a slight European/French influence and I have my own allotment where we are growing vegetables and produce we use in our coffee shop.
We are planning to take on Erasmus+ work placement learners in the future once the business is well established as I believe this circle has to continue. This way we can nurture the next hospitality professionals…
My biggest dream is to move to France one day, it is mostly influenced by country and culture itself and my Erasmus+ experience only boosted it.
Find the Lanes Coffee House here:
59D, Ship Street, The Lanes, Brighton BN1 1AE
We give Social Enterprise start up support to people who are not in work and want to develop their vision through our SEEK programme: SEEK at The Platform
For more info on Erasmus contact the Erasmus+ team at The Platform:
The Platform/ Erasmus+ info: We coordinate work placements to France, Italy and Germany for learning groups of 8+ in the areas of catering, horticulture, construction, and ‘social enterprise’
Erasmus+ UK National Agency: www.erasmusplus.org.uk