Pret A Manger’s “House of the Rising Stars” & “Shops of the Falling Stars”

Some free PR for Pret again with my and other former as well as current Pret employee’s thoughts on the house for the homeless project.

As Pret became aware of my blog in the night from 28th to 29th May 2018 and read my blog, and CEO Clive Schlee always likes to get input from staff and the public on ideas, I posted a blog entry in July 2018 on the cafe chain Social Bite’s project of building a village for homeless people. Of course this may have not been the catalyst for starting a Pret house, but I know how Pret/Clive take ideas and take the credit for it. Clive made the £1000 announcement for all staff in the early hours of 29th May 2018 when he and Pret became aware of my blog. I know how the CEO reacts fast when reputation and profit are at stake, I have seen this many times in his reactions and emails. And I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that this was five years in the making. ONE house started with the help of a multi-million pound company taking FIVE years to plan?????!! … while an unknown coffee chain can build a VILLAGE within two years of planning! I leave the origins for the idea of the house for the homeless parked here.

Today was the DAY. The Launch of the Social Bite Village. 2 Years in the making! 11 purpose built 2 bedroom houses and…

Posted by Social Bite on Thursday, May 17, 2018

@ Clive Schlee, remember the Permanent Residency application I told you about for the foreign workers when Brexit was voted for? Or you seeing me and my team’s organization of shops and then implemented throughout the company, with pictures of immaculate langars on every shop wall? Or the Mystery Shopper ideas I brought via OPs SN? Or IN THE EVENING when the Grenfell Tower fire happened, you had a meeting and decided to give £100,000 to the Evening Standard foundation for the victims ON THAT NIGHT … I still have the emails. Or my post in August 2018 on “Suicide Sanctuary” and a house for the suicidal… It is good to find ideas and implement, but I know Pret as an organization that only implements support if it helps the business and PR. I’m not the only one having experienced this.

2018-07-06 Head Office PR

You can decide very quickly if you want to, and then it supposedly takes you 5 years to plan ONE house for the homeless? Really?? Too much bad press in 2018, hey?

This is why I am so critical, not of the house for the homeless, but of the motive behind it. This is very easy for Pret to do, and I wonder why it has taken so long? And why so few “Rising Stars” came through the programme in 10 years?

Only few people on Facebook and Twitter look further than just from 12 to noon and ask Pret why so few. A Facebook comment on the Rising Stars programme in December 2018:

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

… because it only takes few to fool the public with a marketing scheme to divert from deeper issues …

Link (to read need to be logged into FB)

why only 450 in 10yrs out of 12k staff

And on Twitter:

2019-01-02 re rising stars too few2


The answer to why Pret puts them into one shop I write about in my Open Letter to the PFT.

Out of this amount of employees, only 450+ “Rising Stars” came through the program. Pretty low for a company that prides itself in ethical issues and charity. But it only takes a few people for marketing and the public swallows it blindly.

I also commented regarding the house on Head of the PFT Nicki Fisher’s tweet, but within minutes was “shadow banned” again. Twitter is secretly censoring and hiding Tweets from the public as Pret is a paying customer, wanting to avoid bad press and the truth reaching the public.

As Pret had a lot of bad press last year where a few scandals that came to light that where nicely tucked away in the dark, the house for the homeless, or as I rescission it “The House of the Rising Stars” which Pret will again steal from me, but you read it here first, is a much needed boost for Pret’s typical marketing strategy. No, I am not being negative, I just know how dishonest and toxic Pret is, even using a Development Manager from HQ who lost her brother who died alone in his flat, like my brother died alone in his flat. But Pret used her to sanction me for traumatic emailing, and NOT for mutual support. She then entered into private emailing and text messages which was part of me being unfairly dismissed while my dad was in hospital, just out of a coma. This perversion and disrespect for bereaved in their dignity let’s me question Pret’s “charity”. I cover this extensively among other blog entries in “The Perversion of a Toxic HR Department“.

To make this clear, I commend this project and even if I believe this to be a PR stunt, it’s still good to have something in place, even if it’s to polish the shiny Pret facade again that has gotten a lot of cracks lately.

But I want to give my thoughts on why a lot of this is hypocrisy, a cover up of the reality of work conditions behind the facade, and my concerns on how Pret is from the start going about it.

My regular readers know my traumatic story with Pret, but for new readers, please visit the “Mind Map” I’ve created that leads to important blog entries for an initial overview as my blog has grown and won’t be easy to find ones way around the maze of writings.

On this Mind Map click on the little arrow next to a title to get to that blog entry: “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger

I wrote a transcript from the video Pret posted on facebook with comments from a current Pret employee being critical, as staff are not treated as Pret likes to portray to the public.

Transcript in black with my comments in grey:

Resident Mattia: “I was homeless for two weeks. Not because I’m homeless, you are not homeless you are different than me. We have the same right, we need to have the same opportunity.”

This seems common with the Rising Stars who seemed to have been homeless for a short period, as well as most being quite young, not like many homeless people are who are also addicted to drugs and/or alcohol to be able to cope on the streets for long periods of time. I often think of this homeless man Steve, who’s striking photo was taken before he died. His story, a common thread through homelessness, when he lost his son and couldn’t cope. He became ill and died alone in hospital.

Homeless Man Soho Steve

Photo by @SirWilliamD

I understand that Pret wants to reach those from the streets that are still “easier” to recover, than those who through a longer period have mental health issues, addictions, illnesses and won’t easily get back on their feet with employment. That’s fair if Pret chooses this to get their investment back faster, by especially young people with a short history of homelessness, compared to those who bring a lot of “baggage” on a long way to recovery. But then communicate this, because the public has a visual of those sitting in their 40s and 50s with ripped and dirty clothes, drunk in a business entry at night. That’s what bugs me about this marketing again, to “play” with psychology knowing that the public view homelessness as what they see on the streets in long-term homelessness and addictions.

Now, I don’t minimize even ONE day on the streets, as I have my own experience of having been out a few nights years ago when I was in-between jobs, accommodation, even countries. I don’t minimize Mattia’s two weeks or someone’s ONE night on the streets. What I am raising is the image people have of homelessness and the hopelessness attached to it. And Pret is incredibly good in playing on words and psychology of assumptions. “Natural” food … nope! “Lovingly made in this kitchen” … nope! Customer deaths hidden under the carpet … nope! Staff overtime wages not paid and hoping to get away with it … nope! …

Nicki Fisher, Head of PFT: “So, the goal and the purpose of the Pret Foundation is to alleviate poverty, in particular homelessness and hunger.”

Here’s where I put on the brakes and interrupt the sentence before Ms Fisher even gets started. To alleviate poverty while having employees in shops on poverty wages and stressed to breaking point? One former homeless person working with the homeless points this out bluntly:

2019-02-08 Response to Homeless House Tweet


and another person adding to this:

2019-02-09 Response to former homeless tweet

Both Tweets also being critical of @wlm_uk, and if it’s true what they say, than of course Pret chooses this kind of charity for business purposes.

NF: “We’ve done that in a number of ways. So, giving (uhm, and throwing) food away at the end of the day, giving financial support to different charities, and through employment via our Rising Stars programme. And now, hopefully through the new Pret house, where we’re going to be giving accommodation to people on the streets who are on our employment programme.

I keep on saying that if I was a former homeless person I would be offended in labels like being called a “Rising Star”. CEO Clive Schlee is known for putting his foot in his mouth speaking too fast before he thinks. Labelling me his “late night girl” minimizing my trauma in emailing, and then having me fired two months after he called me this, with my dad just out of a coma. On autopilot, still blaming myself for my brother’s death and having been a burden to a multi-million/now billion pound company, trying to regain life. I chose that label for my website and social media to “throw” it back at him. The refusal for a non-bullying policy and support for the bereaved is just Pret. A People Business Partners admitted that Pret needs to improve on this after I raised the issue in a grievance appeal’s hearing after having been bullied by superiors:

2015-10-22 Chris & Laura re SUPPORT

(Email between HR advisor and PBP about my suggestion and plea for support. But in hindsight this email looks like a pretense to cover their backs. This PBP later in another hearing changed his mind saying that in hindsight he could have been wrong. Pret kept playing games.)

But instead of this, I was continuously bullied, shouted at, and if shouting didn’t work, then excluded from meetings even a Christmas Dinner (!!), information withheld etc. All under Clive Schlee’s and HR’s watchful eye.

Mattia: “They give me my place safe, my privacy.”

NF: “Never done anything like this before, and that’s why our partnership with West London Mission Is really important.”

Jude, Director of Operations WLM: “We have a long history of supporting homeless people and working in the sector, working with Pret in partnership. Start working with the Rising Stars supporting their journey through the Pret programme. We’re all really excited about it as you can imagine.”

Yes, I can imagine as the money donations from Pret is flowing …

Mattias: “They’ve given me a lot, and they gave me an opportunity to start my life.”

I’d like to show Mattias and the other residents what the majority of Pret’s employees are “given” while he is used for PR. How easy it is to take a handful of vulnerable people, shower them with materials, trips and accommodation and then just let them do the marketing for Pret. In meantime regular staff in shops suffer.

Yesterday’s Facebook comment on the House for the Homeless by a shop staff member:

2019-02-08 Facebook good post

and today:

2019-02-09 Response to Homeless House Tweet2

Link to Facebook comment need to load a few second to see the comment, also need to be logged into FB.

This staff member has now got a target on his back from HR for speaking out publicly. But I underline his every word! And that is why Pret’s house to me is slap in the face of the workforce that are stressed, overworked, underpaid, dropped and let down by Pret’s senior leadership for the sake of profit and repaying the investors. Frankly, throwing their sheep to the wolves!

Dear Clive Schlee, how does this make you feel pocketing £30 million that your hardworking people you were entrusted with brought you? A house for the “Rising Stars” won’t fix the repeated crying out from all the other staff members. The carpet has become very crooked and easy to stumble over.

I am certain that there is not ONE Pret employee who doesn’t like the homeless house project. And I am certain that the workforce in Pret is pulling together in support of homeless people getting accommodation and jobs with Pret’s help. But letting your workers down by driving them to the ground with intense stress and low pay, and then compensate your bad conscience by taking vulnerable people off the streets on a hike, giving them accommodation and low paid jobs, doesn’t cut it, sir. 

The public and certainly your staff is not that ignorant! Employees just give you the benefit of the doubt too much, like I did and almost lost my life.

I’m sure Mattias will not be aware of my website, but for the sake of the public and staff, here is the contrast and why the above staff member is pleading and why I am calling out your hypocrisy and diversion of issues.

Pret Reality for many:

Pret A Marley shot the Sheriff

Link Former assistant manager went from the kitchen to the streets.

The above link doesn’t work anymore as they deleted the report. But it can be found here:

“Depression. Anxiety. Dread to go to work”

2018-10-02 Modern Day Slavery


Horrible Company Pret

YouTube further down the comments.

2012-07-23 Ex GM


2018-07-06 Head Office PR


2018-11-01 Go back to UK


2018-07-12 Quote Pret #17


2018-07-23 Quote #27 Pret Hellhole


2019-02-01 #66 YouTube under free cookie video


2017 A customer comment in Chicago on a deceased Pret Staff, Dante and Pret in general: “I knew Dante. He was an extremely nice person. That being said, Pret is a horrible company to work for.”

Chicago Pret horrible company to work for2

and many more along those lines.

Mystery Shopper report:

04 MS

2018-01-07 I Hate Pret Facebook Page2



My Open Letter to the Pret Foundation Trust


I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote an article in the
Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.


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