Debt and un-seasonal visitors

Sadly, we continue to receive many calls from hospitality people who are living in fear of a visit from the bailiffs. In the UK 1 in 14 adults are in problem debt, and the financial pressures of the festive season often add to that burden regardless of whether there are extra shifts available during December.

Callers often complain of aggressive language in letters and intimidating behaviour from bailiffs on the doorstep. Debts can quickly spiral beyond control and leave people bewildered and at risk of having property re-possessed.

This issue has attracted national interest with people like  Martin Lewis the ‘Money Saving Expert’ calling for a change in the law to address the risk of suicide as a result of financial worries. A change in the law is something we’d applaud.

If you or a colleague is worried about mounting debt, there are lots of ways we can help you.

The first thing to do is not panic – pick up the phone and call our 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 0282 – we can give you practical advice to help get things back on track.

Specialist debt advice – working with our partner PayPlan we can help you come to terms with your debt levels and look at your best route forwards.

Psychological support – money matters can be stressful and put pressure on all aspects of daily life. We’re here to provide a friendly ear and practical advice.

Hardship grants – You may qualify for a grant to help you with household expenses to provide a little financial breathing space

Winter fuel grants (for working age and retired people) – fuel poverty is a real issue at this time of year, you may qualify for a grant to help with spiralling energy costs.

The stress caused by debt can be stressful and in extreme cases, life threatening so if you or a colleague are worried call us on 0808 802 0282 or for information on our grants visit the Grants page on our website or call the grants team on 020 3004 5500.

Work does not protect families from falling into crisis

New analysis on foodbank use, in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, has highlighted how being in work does not guarantee that you will have enough to get by. Applications for Hospitality Action’s grants are up 6% on this time last year and we are seeing increasing requests from people in work in crisis.

Our Winter Fuel Grant scheme for working people on low incomes helps ensure that people don’t have to choose between food and fuel. With the recent bad weather many people may have been worried about turning on the heat due to the cost. The grants are for £100 and applicants just need to demonstrate that they are on a limited income, have little or no savings and have a fuel bill to pay. If you or anyone you know will struggle with your winter fuel then the short WFG application form can be found here. We can accept applications until the end of March and so don’t delay. After this date help can be offered through our main grants programme.

Through our Essential Needs Grants we help with a huge variety of needs. Last week we helped Ms W who needed to equip a new home after fleeing an abusive partner, she and her children were without a working washing machine and fridge-freezer which we were apply to provide along with some furniture for the children’s bedrooms to make their house feel more like a home.

For many in our industry company sick pay is not part of their benefits package. The drop in income caused by only receiving Statutory Sick Pay of £89.35/week should they need time off due to ill health puts people in the impossible position of choosing which essential bill to pay; rent, fuel, food. This week we helped Mr & Mrs T; Mrs T is recovering from cancer and is back at work early as she could no longer afford to be off. We helped with some essential bills and they also received our Winter Fuel Grant.

To find out more about our grants programmes and to access our application form, please visit our website or call our grants team on 020 3004 5500.

HA Embraces Digital Technology

Imagine a world where there is no internet, email, websites, social media, mobile apps or smartphones! Could you survive?!

Well this is how HA worked in 1999 when I first joined! However this didn’t stop HA being a successful charity and helping raise money to help our people in the hospitality industry.

Technology has revolutionised our lives over the last few years but it has also played an important part in how charities function in the 21st century. Here are a few examples:

Before email, we communicated with our supporters and beneficiaries by telephone and post. Now we can communicate instantly to them wherever they are, whether they are using a laptop, smartphone or tablet! This allows people with problems to contact us confidentially, when, where and how they want to.

We can now help our beneficiaries much quicker as we can receive and transfer money instantly using online banking. This has especially helped those who need our emergency help.

When we run events we now use portable payment machines so we no longer have to rely solely on cash or cheque donations. This means our supporters have more flexible ways of making donations and we receive the money more quickly so it can go to those in need much faster. Contactless payment is great it makes it easy for people to give.

We use our website to advertise our services and events while our beneficiaries use it to complete grant application forms (rather than relying on ‘snail mail’ back in the day!). We also receive donations via our website which is a very simple and quick process.

Social media allows us to communicate quickly and directly with our supporters to raise awareness about key events and HA news.

The use of fundraising web sites such as Virgin Money Giving and Just Giving has helped people raise money individually for us. As these sites also do Gift Aid this reduces the administrative overhead for charities.

Our successful EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) scheme uses the latest cloud technology platform to provide a range of vital services to hospitality industry employees.

Technology has made a massive difference to our daily lives, but it has also changed the way charities operate for the better! HA embraces digital technology. Our new blogs are a great example of our latest foray into tech!