Blog. Thank you, just thank you.

December 22, 2020 | Author: Mark Lewis

Covid-19 turned the world on its head. And hospitality was the sector worst-hit by the Pandemic. 

Overnight, hundreds of thousands of hospitality professionals lost hours, employment or jobs; and tens of thousands of businesses faced the prospect of closure. The industry faced an existential crisis – and Hospitality Action wasn’t exempt.

The fundraising events programme we’d spent years developing evaporated. Meanwhile, the phones were starting to ring off the hook.

Faced with plunging income and growing demand, we had to act. We knew we couldn’t possibly help everyone affected by the pandemic; but we were clear that we’d rather help some, than none at all. To enable us to support hospitality households while they waited for State support, we launched an emergency appeal …

… and that’s when the magic happened.

Lockdown made us all realise just how much hospitality enriches our lives, and how keenly we miss our favourite restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars. We play out our biggest life events in your venues, from nervous first dates to weddings, and from baby showers to toasting the departed. They’re where all those moments that make life good happen: the morning chat with the friendly person at the café counter, the quick pint after work with pals, the Valentine’s dinner, the soak in a warm pool …

As news of job losses and closures started to spread, the British public expressed its love and empathy for your industry by giving generously to us. Cash donations poured in, many with humbling back-stories. One woman donated what she’d planned to spend on treating her mum to a Mother’s Day Lunch. Others gave the value of an after-work round of drinks, or a morning coffee missed due to working at home. A city big hitter donated several thousand pounds and acknowledged how taking clients for slap-up lunches had secured many a business deal.

We also received overwhelming support from operators, suppliers and industry bodies. Some offered cash donations or encouraged their customers to help us through pack promotions and online events. Others brewed beers, blended teas, distilled gins and even forged knives in our name.

Thank goodness they did … In the days following the first Lockdown we experienced three years’ worth of website traffic; and on the morning we opened for emergency grant applications, we received over 20,000 emails within the first hour.

Having previously relied on events to raise money, we had to get creative, ourselves. The result was initiatives like our 20,000 Mile Challenge, which saw hundreds of supporters virtually travel the entire UK coastline on bikes or on foot; and Invisible Chips, a giving programme aiming to harness the British public's affection for the industry and turn it in to long-term, scalable support.

What has your support enabled us to do?

Since March, the team at HA has been working around the clock to help people like you. People in financial peril. People whose livelihoods are literally disappearing. 

This year, we’ve spent approaching twice as much as ever before in a calendar year, helping many thousands of hospitality households in crisis to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads.

We’ve established a volunteer network that’s providing lifelines for thousands of hospitality retirees, by keeping loneliness and isolation at bay and seeing to practical needs like picking up prescriptions or groceries.

And we’ve created an online wellbeing hub to mitigate the toll the pandemic is taking on the industry’s mental health. Covid-19 created a toxic cocktail of anxiety, grief, loss of purpose, guilt and anger. Our hub provides advice and signposting in these and other areas. Its centrepiece is a Lockdown Lessons video (recorded on Zoom - of course) featuring hospitality people talking frankly about their own mental health challenges and coping mechanisms.

We’re only able to do what we do, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our supporters. 

Together, you enabled us to help David.

David had £9 and a penny in his account when we heard from him, and couldn’t afford to turn on his lights or his television. To make his money stretch, he was buying one potato, one tomato or one onion at a time, and rationing his gas by only cooking one meal a day. When we called him to tell him we were sending him a grant, David sang down the line to us and danced around his kitchen.

By supporting Hospitality Action, you put the lights back on in David’s house, you put food on his table and you drew a smile back on his face. 

You also helped us to help Rachael, who had just £1.22 to her name when she reached out to us. A live-in worker, she’d lost her job and her home during the crisis. We paid for her to travel to new accommodation, and kitted it out for her.

On behalf of David, Rachael and the many thousands of people we’ve been able to support this year … thank you. We’re humbled and appreciative.

We can’t help every hospitality family; but we’ve done our best to help as many as possible … And we’ll continue to work to this goal, in 2021. 

As we enter the festive period, our helpline remains open, 24/7. If you, your colleagues or your family need emotional or practical support in the coming weeks, please call us on: 0808 802 0282. 

Have a safe and peaceful festive season - and remember: we’ve got you.