When anyone entered my Nana’s house she would always ask them three questions. Are you hungry? Are you thirsty? Are you warm enough? For those of us lucky enough to have known her, they will concur that this dedication to great hospitality was just one of the reasons she was so loved. Any answer in the affirmative was followed by mountains of scones, toast, pots of tea and fruit cake arriving on hastily arranged occasional tables. Keeping people well fed and watered has always been, and will always be one of the most fundamental ways to care for the wellbeing of those around you, and that sense of satisfaction lives long in the memory.
It’s become a cliche to remark as to how hard-working staff in the hospitality sector are. Like nursing, we recognise that this is a calling that people feel – to care for people, consummately, in an industry which is often stressful and underpaid.
The last 12 months has placed the UK’s hospitality industry under unimaginable pressure. While much of the rest of the UK economy pivoted to working from home, hospitality businesses closed and waited. Those who could provide delivery services did, but a great many businesses failed. We can only imagine the stress and uncertainty felt by staff in this sector as the kitchens and booking lines fell quiet.
There’s something otherworldly and uncomfortable about pubs that ought to be filled with light, laughter and music sitting quiet, locked and empty. Equally hotels and music venues and so many of the locations for memorable human events lay empty with the staff who live to look after us when we visit them sat at home, uncertain of their futures or where the next pay check would come from.
As the UK raced towards finding a vaccine that would provide us with a path out of the pandemic, the industry’s charity Hospitality Action prepared for what might be its busiest time ever. As a charity it has provided support for the UK hospitality industry for a great many years, but now it faced the prospect of supporting the workforce of an industry closed and in the grip of a pandemic.
The hospitality industry is a ‘care’ industry by another name. It might seem to focus on food and drink but collectively it’s a business that is focused on caring for people – care for our comfort, our appetites, our leisure time and our families and friends. That’s why so many significant events in our life are marked by trips to restaurants or to hotels, and that’s why when we are able to, we will rush back to these places. We’ve continued eating and drinking well at home during lockdown, but what we miss is the expertise and energy of an industry that is able to deliver an experience that combines all of those basic human needs, with the warmth and expertise that makes us feel truly special.
Fortunately, HA is an endlessly creative organisation with a lot of friends. Before long it had come up with the Hell and Back challenge – its initiative to raise money to support its activities. And this is where we come in.
We’ve committed as an agency to run, walk or cycle over 300 miles and raise money towards the overall total of 30,000 miles.
Through money raised HA can continue to provide essential support to this vital industry that is going through an unprecedented struggle, the full effects of which we won’t see for some time.
If you can, please do sponsor me and help HA continue to support these heroes. Thank you.