Blog. The end of something, the start of something. End of year blog part 2.

December 31, 2019 | Author: Mark Lewis

There are just a few hours left of what has been an amazing year at Hospitality Action. As we prepare for the new decade HA stands ready to support those in crisis and to play an increasingly influential role in protecting the wellbeing of the industry.

Here are my highlights from 2019. Bear with me – it’s been a busy year, meaning that this is a long list … 

Evolving our brand A lot of work went into Hospitality Action’s new branding. We wanted to bring a more nourishing feel to the charity, to convey that we’re a safety net for the industry, that we’ve got an arm around its shoulder. We softened our logo to give it the feel of a digital speech bubble and communicate the sense that we’re always available to talk and listen to you. And we shot a series of imagery of people around the industry - KPs, cleaners, chefs, concierges - to ram home the point that we’re here for everyone in hospitality. We based our approach around a phrase that’s as powerful as it is simple: we’ve got you. Huge thanks are due to creative agency Mercieca, who supported us throughout the process.

Our website I love our new website. It’s clean, inclusive and easily navigable. My favourite part? Alrick’s smiling face at the head of our introductory video. Thanks to digital agency, Breathe, for the site-build and creative input.

New boards, new ambassadors In 2019, we welcomed the CEO of Sketch, Sinead Mallozzi, and former England rugby captain, Phil Vickery, to our roster of patrons. And we introduced three new trustees, Chris Garside (Compass), Kate Nicholls (UKHospitality) and Simon Jones (Whitbread). Meanwhile, we introduced new fundraising boards in the Northeast and East Anglia – the latter includes my good friend Charlie Hodson, who’s become an indefatigable ambassador for the charity.

Prevention, advocacy Hospitality Action is proud to offer grants and counselling to people for whom a problem has become acute. But we are increasingly taking steps to prevent problems arising in the first place. Our Winter Fuel Grant programme, kindly supported by the Worshipful Company of Innholders, helps keep winter illnesses at bay for hundreds of hospitality workers and their families. This summer, we launched a School Uniform Grant to get the children of hospitality families kitted out for a stigma-free first day at school. And, in the autumn, we released a drink and drug dependency video that alerts hospitality people to the dangers of addiction. The video, which features HA champions Philip Howard and Tom Kerridge, was kindly supported by the Savoy Educational Trust, and drew this humbling tweet from Michel Roux Sr: “This is why we give our time and support to this charity. Please watch, share and support in any way you can.”

Finally, on World Mental Health Awareness Day in October, we laid the first foundations of a mental health awareness programme that will grow, in 2020, into an invaluable set of assets seeking to end the stigmas around mental health, normalise conversations about mental wellness and combat the number of suicides across the industry.

Social Sunday This year, we doubled revenues from our main annual fundraising moment, Social Sunday. Our vision is to turn it into the hospitality industry’s Children in Need. Thanks to the support of Jason Atherton (whose brainchild Social Sunday was), Fazenda Group, Whatley Manor and the countless other operators that took part this year, it’s building a real head of steam. My favourite moment had to be when EatDrinkSleep brewed a Social Session beer in our honour. Thanks a million to, headline sponsors of Social Sunday 2019.

Fundraising events Our biannual fundraising event, Back to the Floor, at which respected hoteliers swap spreadsheets for silver service, raised an almighty £130,000, making it the most successful event in the charity’s 182-year history. We held the event at London’s Dorchester Hotel during a difficult period for the Dorchester Collection. Despite being founded on inclusion, diversity and equality, the Collection’s teams were taking a lot of flak at the time of the event, through absolutely no fault of their own. We were proud to be able to support them through our presence. Huge thanks are due to Philip Newman-Hall and Danny Pecorelli for being the beating heart of this amazing event.

Our inaugural Patrons Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental was a similar success - with HA patrons Jason Atherton, Michel Roux Jr, Nigel Haworth, Paul Heathcote and Tom Kerridge, and ambassadors Ashley Palmer-Watts and Gary Usher on the stoves, it was never going to be anything other than successful. Thanks to the Mandarin’s Amanda Hyndman for her support.

Meanwhile, successful events in Yorkshire, East Anglia, Liverpool, Bristol and Maidenhead helped us spread the HA gospel to new parts of the country. 

Phew. After all this activity, you won’t mind if the Hospitality Action team retires for a mince pie, a glass of sherry and a good James Bond movie. Don’t worry, though. If you need our help, we’re still just a phone call away.

Happy New Year from the team at Hospitality Action – and remember: we’ve got you.