Blog. An update on our response to COVID-19

April 8, 2020 | Author: Mark Lewis

For the past two Thursday evenings, I’ve joined the national moment of solidarity, as the country has clapped, beeped horns, bangs pots and pans and cheered in support of frontline NHS workers.

For a fleeting moment, the nation felt connected, part of something bigger. Then, we all closed our front doors and the underlying anxiety that’s become our default emotion set in again.

Feeling anxious is almost inevitable during times like the one we’re living through. No one knows what the future holds; and our own health, and that of our friends and loved ones, is a constant concern.

Work gives us purpose. It’s one of the things that defines us, and this is especially true in the full-throttle hospitality industry. Hospitality people throw heart and soul into their jobs, and much of their sense of self comes from being defined as a chef, waiter or hotelier. They draw energy and pride from providing joy to others, and they thrive on the feedback from guests and customers for their mental wellbeing.

Since the lockdown, this has all but disappeared. The sense of loss can feel almost like grief.

Being at home adds to the sense of isolation. Social distancing can leave people on their own, or in close proximity to partners and children they’re unused to spending so much time with. Hospitality families are often like ships in the night and while family time is something many will enjoy, others will find it difficult. A pressure-cooker home environment can lead to tensions, increased reliance on alcohol and poor decision-making.

Managers and employers also have to live with the guilt and despair that comes from the difficult decisions they are making - closing businesses, letting casual staff go and furloughing others, boarding up the premises that represented our lives.

In these extraordinary times, the team at HA are doing all we can to support you and your teams from afar.

Over the next few weeks we’ll release a range of resources to help support your staff in coming to terms with the mental health aspects of the current situation, from loneliness to finances, family and relationship issues to dependency.

You and your employees may be feeling anxious, but there’s no reason for any of you to feel abandoned or alone. We’re always here to listen and to help. The day will come when shutters are removed and premises reopened, and at that point, the industry will need teams of mentally fit and resilient workers ready to delight customers and guests once again.

We’re at the end of the phone 24/7 0808 802 0282. 

We’re taking other steps to support the industry through this difficult time.

First, we are supporting in their drive to help hospitality workers re-deploy into retail and other sectors. While it’s sad to see our well-trained and motivated staff move to other industries, we know they will add huge value to the national effort to keep the us all fed. Customers can expect to be welcomed with a five-star smiles from our hospitality heroes. 

The charity has also been awarding emergency grants and the fund to support those in financial crisis currently stands at £310,000. If you can make a small contribution, please donate here.

Finally, we’ve vastly increased our befriending capacity, and thanks to an army of volunteers over 1600 industry retirees and other vulnerable beneficiaries have been contacted and connected with local support services where necessary.

The future is uncertain, but one thing is clear. HA is here for you. Please stay well, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Keep an eye on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest updates.