While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard, no industry has felt the closures and restrictions harder than hospitality. With no ability to work from home, the industry has found itself stranded in a new world where isolation, the very opposite of their normal job, is the order of the day.
Across the country, thousands of bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs have closed their doors, leaving their countless number of employees with no customers, no work, no income and a very uncertain future.
Normally in times of crisis, hospitality staff and their venues have been the rock that the wider population has relied on to get through, no matter what the situation. They have been the place you could go and the people to whom you turn when things get tough.
During natural disasters, economic collapse and times of conflict, the industry has always stepped up to the plate and been the constant, calming influence, no matter what was going on around them. In a way, they have been like the band, playing on the deck of the Titanic, as the ship slowly sank.
But this time it’s been different.
While everyone understands the need to restrict contact and therefore close venues, the result has meant untold hardship. In effect, hospitality workers have become, to keep the Titanic metaphor going, the third class passengers locked below decks.
While government assistance is helping some, it has to be remembered that hospitality is an industry that is disproportionately made up of casual and seasonal workers. Among them are visa holders, students and young people, many of whom have been left out of the government stimulus package.
While there is talk of easing the restrictions across Australia, it is commonly believed that bars and pubs, in particular, will be among the last to be able to reopen their doors. The result is that rather than helping people through the crisis, the members of the industry are themselves in crisis.
With this in mind, we wanted to highlight three local, on-the-ground initiatives that have been created to support hospitality workers. Each of them is concentrating on different gaps that need to be filled but each of them also needs your help to keep operating. If you can, please consider using the links provided to help them help those in need.
Jason “Jackie” Chan (of Hats and Tatts and The Westwinds Gin fame) and Henry Le (from the bar, Ends and Means) have started Covid-19EAD (Employee Assistance Directive) to feed unemployed hospitality professionals.
What started as a way to feed their own recently laid-off employees, soon turned into an outreach program with the mission of feeding as many unemployed hospitality professionals as they could afford.
At presen,t they are producing a range of chef-cooked, pre-packaged meals which they are distributing (via contact-less delivery) to hospo workers in a 15km radius from Melbourne’s CBD.
The meals that they provide are all free of charge, yet the unit cost of producing and delivering a single adult serving size meal ranges between $1.00 and $3.00 depending on protein content and dietary requirements (they cater for vegans, vegetarians, coeliacs and those who are nut and lactose allergic/intolerant)
So as they will tell you, even a $1.00 will put a meal in the hands of someone who needs support.
Last week alone, they drove 473kms to deliver 812 meals to 168 households around Melbourne and every day more and more people are turning to them for help
The group have started a gofundme page where it is easy to donate
Hospo Threads is an online marketplace that acts as a one-stop-shop for people to find local venues they can support during these rough times.
With everything from t-shirts and hats to ‘cocktails-for-home’ and meal-deals, the site is free for venues to list themselves and free for people to access.
Co-created by Chau Tran (co-owner of Burrow Bar) and her brother TJ, the intention of Hospothreads was to help venues and business owners that don’t have means to sell things online. HospoThreads will facilitate the process to get them selling online as fast as possible.
As Tran explains, “TJ has a tech background, and I have a bar and marketing background, and we really wanted to put these skills together in order to best benefit the hospitality industry.
“A lot of bar owners are incredibly skilled, but as soon as the channel in which they had to operate their businesses changed, it seemed like an impossible task. That’s when we saw the opportunity to have the most positive impact for our friends in need.”
At last count, the site had 21 venues across four cities. For more information, go to hospothreads.com
Hospo For Life
Founded by Sydney chef Liam Crawley, Hospo For Life launched almost a year ago to provide the hospitality industry with access to psychologists and mental health services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
During this pandemic, Hospo For Life and Warner’s Gin have collaborated to launch the daily #HospoHappyHour to help struggling hospitality workers through this turbulent time with a daily #HospoHappyHour broadcasts.
Viewers can ask questions anonymously and for those with more serious concerns or issues, Hospo for Life can offer a free one-on-one session with a professional psychologist, then help in securing a referral for further sessions, all currently bulk-billed to ensure no out of pocket expenses for hard-hit Aussie hospo’s.
As part of the collaboration, Warner’s have started #HaveADrinkHelpAHospo, where five dollars from every Warner’s bottle sold (online and in-store through Dan Murphy’s) will go #HospoHappyHour to help support their efforts with the broadcast, which they intend to run every weekday until at least the end of May.
The episodes will run weekdays from April 20th at 5pm AEST on the Hospo For Life Facebook page. Anyone wanting to make a much-needed donation or set up a free counselling session can contact Liam on firstname.lastname@example.org.