The Only a Pavement Away charity does extraordinary work, largely behind the scenes, looking to help the homeless and those in need get back on their feet and where possible offer them the practical and financial support to get themselves back into work. It is also working very closely with the drinks and hospitality sectors to see what they can do to give people a second chance. Here Chris Seale, managing director of Speciality Brands, and Greg Mangham, chief executive of Only A Pavement Away, explain how they are working together to help people find suitable future employment.
The Only a Pavement Away charity helps hundreds of people literally get off the streets and back into employment. But it needs industry support to help it do more. Here’s how you, and your company, can help and the steps the charity is taking with major distributors, including Speciality Brands, to involve hospitality and the drinks industry in its efforts.
Greg Mangham, founder and chief executive of Only A Pavement Away, explains what the charity is about and how the drinks and hospitality sectors can help.
Can you tell us about the charity and how it started?
On a hot September evening in September 2017 Gill and I were shocked by the number of rough sleepers on the Strand in London. Gill’s challenge was why can’t hospitality and the relevant charities work together to ease the homelessness crisis whilst filling gaps in the hospitality jobs market. The catalyst came when I was offered a lucrative consulting contract and basically abandon our idea. That evening we decided to close down my consultancy and create Only A Pavement Away.
Our purpose is to transform the lives of those facing, or at risk of homelessness, including prison leavers and veterans in need of support, through careers in hospitality.
We also want to try and gain employment, training and development, excitement, career progression, brighter future, stability, security, accommodation, self-worth, fun, enjoyment and/or a second chance.
The ethos is based on a very simple concept, that no matter who or where you are, you are: ‘Only A Pavement Away’.
How do you go about helping people?
Only A Pavement Away acts as the conduit to help those who are facing or at risk of homelessness, including prison leavers and veterans and are therefore struggling to get into work by:
- Offering career opportunities within the hospitality industry.
- Facilitating training and development programmes and creating the capability to work.
- Offering financial support to overcome the barriers to employment including support with rent and other costs which may hinder stability.
- Outside of the moral benefits, the project is under pinned by a strong commercial and financial benefit to the hospitality industry, by accessing an as yet untapped, employment pool.
- It also provides a tangible gain for society by reducing the strain on the public purse.
It is important to stress that Only A Pavement Away is not a recruitment agency and focuses solely on helping those on the project find work whilst in some cases offering financial support. Each category albeit intrinsically linked, will be managed by a category specific relationship manager.
What are your key objectives and targets?
To support approximately 750 to 1,000 members per year into work whilst maintaining our core values and ethos. 85p of every pound donated goes to supporting our members. To date 225 members have been placed into work adding £5 million to the economy.
How are you working with the hospitality and on-trade sectors in particular?
We work with forward thinking employers who have the vision and empathy to offer careers to our members. The majority of our funding comes from the industry. The industry also supports the various campaigns we run.
What practical and effective support does this kind of sponsorship from Speciality Brands have?
The Speciality Brands funding has enabled us to employ an employment coach who will help with welfare and career stability whilst enhancing member retention. This is a key role in our structure.
How can suppliers and individuals in the drinks industry support you?
Through the sponsorship of our team. The more relationship managers we have the more members we can get into work. By promoting our brand and mission, Speciality Brands acts as a template for this. We have recently carried out an analysis as to how much 1,500 members can reduce the sales revenue shortfall.
What other help are you looking for in terms of services etc?
We also offer support with IT, office space and media campaigns. We are also looking to update are shop clothing range and are looking for both a designer and a hospitality brand to join with us.
In the time the charity has been going how are conditions now?
The charity has grown and gone from strength to strength. The numbers of those rough sleeping and facing homelessness has grown and will continue to do so.
What help does the charity and the people who use it need the most from the government?
Funding and the acceptance that Only A Pavement Away can be the facilitator for employment from vulnerable groups into hospitality. We also need the three ministries – Homelessness, Veterans & Ministry of Justice – to come together and work closer with us.
What do you hope to be able to achieve as a charity over the next 12 months?
We want to get between 750 to 1,000 people into work and be recognised as the hospitality charity for helping people into careers.
Chris Seale, managing director of Speciality Brands, explains why the company has chosen to support and provide funding for the Only a Pavement Away charity.
Can you tell us about why you have got involved with charity Only A Pavement Away?
The first time we got involved with Only A Pavement Away was three years ago through a cocktail programme we ran with Ilegal mezcal and the brand’s Love Your Neighbour initiative. We were really impressed with the charity’s mission whilst also shocked at the extent of the situation they are trying to improve. As the pandemic hit, we decided to get involved as a business and be a proactive part of the solution.
What is it about this particular charity that chimes so much for you at Speciality?
They are addressing many of the issues that are very close to our heart from homelessness to trying to provide a solution to the current staff shortage in hospitality.
As a major drinks supplier do you feel it is important you are able to help in this way?
It is important for any organisation to get involved how and when they can. Helping people out of vulnerable situations and into hospitality jobs is an issue that resonated with us.
What practical support are you providing and what do you hope it can achieve? Do you have any examples of what you have been able to achieve?
We are offering financial support: 10p of each bottle we sell to our customers is donated to the charity. This has allowed them to create a vital new role within the organisation and appoint an employment coach who will aid vulnerable people in their employment journey.
We are also raising awareness with all our customers, whilst our team in London and Scotland is getting involved in some of the events Only A Pavement Away has in place.
This summer over 10 members of the team took part in the charity’s summer Fill a Flask campaign which aims to distribute re-usable thermal flasks, to people forced to sleep on the street. The distribution is specifically targeted for the beginning of summer, a time when many rough sleepers need a cold drink.
I’d recommend to everyone to check their website for the programme of events and get involved.
How long have you been supporting the charity?
Our partnership started in July 2021 and we made our first donation earlier this year.
In your time working in the on-trade and hospitality how would you say conditions are now in terms of the pressure on operators and their staff?
These are incredibly challenging times for everyone. We are seeing and facing unprecedented issues from supply chain to the cost-of-living crisis to staff shortage which will ultimately reshape our industry.
What are your hopes for the sector in the year ahead?
Recovering from the position we are in now and hopefully seeing the hospitality trade in a better shape. Also I’d love to see more people considering the hospitality trade as a long term career rather than a stop gap – but for this we need fundamental changes in all areas of staff development.
- If you want to find our more about Only A Pavement Away charity and how you can help then go to its website here.
- You can follow them on social media here Instagram: @only_a_pavement_away; Twitter: @apavementaway; Facebook: /onlyapavementaway.
- Speciality Brands is a partner supplier to The Buyer. You can find out more about its services to the premium on and off-trades here.