A COOK school has received a tasty grant of almost £100,000 to continue helping some of Inverclyde's most vulnerable people into work.

Greenock-based employability charity Stepwell, which also runs the Fresh cafes locally, has received a financial boost to help expand its range of services thanks to the Scottish Government and The Hunter Foundation's innovation fund.

The £99,000 grant will also mean up to five new jobs being created.

Cabinet secretary for communities and local government, Aileen Campbell, visited the Haig Street social enterprise yesterday to see the work being done by the organisation - and was treated to a two-course lunch by some of the current batch of cook school trainees.

Ms Campbell said: "This is a partnership with The Hunter Foundation to support organisations that kind of disrupt the system in such a way that it enables people to flourish, feel supported and to help transform their lives. "I've heard some really inspiring stories and from some really inspiring and committed individuals, but also from the people who have been benefiting from the service themselves about how transformative and how impactful the work that goes on here has been.

"Not only is this helping people but enabling them to develop skills they maybe didn't realise they had."

Cook school clients made a tasty meal for their VIP guest of barbecue chicken with fragrant rice followed by pear and apple crumble with ice cream.

They were then presented with food hygiene certificates from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland by Ms Campbell.

Greenock man Graeme Blair, 30, from Broomhill, has been struggling to get a job but is now on the path to a catering career thanks to the skills and qualifications gained in the cook school, with a placement in a Fresh cafe also on the menu.

He said: "It's brilliant in here and the staff are very supportive and always welcoming.

"I'm constantly benefiting from it.

"I've always wanted to do cooking and it's something I'm good at.

"I've been struggling to get a job and this has given me motivation to get up and do something."

Stepwell was established 11 years ago and, as well as the cook school, offers holistic therapies and counselling.

Managing director Steven Watson said: "When the government and The Hunter Foundation say 'we want to invest in you guys' - and there's only six organisations in Scotland receiving money from the innovation fund - it's an honour.

"What it's allowing us to do is scale up some of the work we're doing and work with more people. "At the heart of it is ordinary people and we get to serve them."