Protest over London Pleasure Gardens collapse
A three-year work contract with on-the-job training was what these young east Londoners were offered at the London Pleasure Gardens.
After the owner of the site went into administration just four weeks after opening, they and 200 other bar workers had all that hope - and money - snatched away from them.
On Tuesday around 20 of them returned to the locked gates at Pontoon Dock to protest about the lost jobs and the tens of thousands of pounds in wages owed.
Monique Williams-Stewart, 20, of Upton Park, said she was offered £7.50 an hour. After working the first few weekends she was owed £600 before the company folded due to poor attendance figures.
"I was so excited to get the job," she said. "It was my first job and I had been looking for eight months.
"Until Bloc [a music festival which police closed due to dangerous overcrowding] it was amazing, always busy, but when the Olympics started and the Excel opened there wasn't many here at all."
Many companies have lost money after the London Pleasure Gardens went into admin.
Newham Council is the major creditor, owed a £3million loan, and is working with administrator Deloitte to recover as much as possible.
Stallholders and small firms promised three years' business are also out of pocket and not hopeful of seeing much money back.
Michael Butt's company Soulshakers carried out the HR and interviewing for LPG with the aim of hiring the council's stipulation of 40 per cent from the local area - he reached 65 per cent.
He said London Pleasure Gardens management was a disaster from the outset.
"They were flaky to deal with. Very badly organised," said Michael, who was also at the protest. He said his company had lost around £20,000 while people he had hired were around £73,000 out of pocket.
However, he was convinced the workers would be taken care of by the administrators.
"Deloitte has been very good to deal with," he said. "It's assured me it understand these are the people that need the money most."
Statutory redundancy will back them for £430 a week.
However, the workers will still miss out on three year's wages as the early indications are they will not be taken on if and when the park is reopened, which Newham Council said is the plan.
Stanley Nchitu, 22, who worked for six weeks at the Pleasure Gardens as a bar backer assisting bar tenders, said he would not want to go back.
"I was a bar backer working in central London and travelling to Wales but I gave it up for this one as they promised us full-time work for three years," he said.
"They let me down. I wouldn't want to work here again after the way we were treated. I just want my money back.
"They even needed more bar backers so I got a lot of people jobs - some close friends, others I hardly knew - and now everyone's on my neck saying 'where's my money' and 'when's your company going to pay me?'"
Franciana Ayenga, 23, of Stratford, however, would be more inclined to return. She had just finished an eight-hour unpaid trial at Tesco when she was delighted to be offered the job at the Pleasure Gardens.
"I'm owed over £400 and have rent due, bills to pay and people calling," she said. "When we were told our jobs were gone I cried. I liked the job, it was my job and now I've got nothing."
A statement from the operators said: "The LPG team are working with the administrators to ensure the current situation is dealt with in the best possible way."