Only a Pavement Away's inaugural conference saw more than 150 delegates discuss how hospitality can help the homeless, ex-offenders and ex-veterans into the workplace.
The charity, which acts as a conduit between employers and vulnerable people seeking work, held the conference in Covent Garden's H Club on Tuesday.
Among the speakers were secretary of state for justice, David Gauke, who told those gathered: "I believe strongly in the power of work to change people's lives. But some vulnerable people, including the homeless, ex-service personnel and ex-offenders do face particular barriers and prejudices upon entering and benefitting from the labour market.
"Hospitality is a sector in which more and more employers are opening their eyes, and their workplaces, to those who show promise but who may not have a perfect record or start in life. I want to thank Only A Pavement Away for helping vulnerable people and those with convictions into work, whilst also providing employers with a previously untapped pool of motivated and loyal staff who just want to be given a chance to get on in the world of work. It's a win-win approach."
Brewhouse & Kitchen, PubLove and Youngs were among the companies who described their experiences of recruiting employees through Only a Pavement Away. Ben Stackhouse, CEO of PubLove, said: "There are so many benefits from getting involved with Only A Pavement Away. Not only does it send out a message to your staff that they are working for a company that cares, but you get employees who, once they have settled in, are incredibly loyal. They know that you have helped create this seismic shift in their circumstances and they are incredibly grateful for that, which comes through in their work ethic."
Founder and CEO of the charity Greg Mangham (pictured) launched two new campaigns at the event, ‘summer sips' and ‘winter warmers'. Summer sips will provide rough sleepers with a bottle of water every night for a period of 12 weeks across the summer months. The bottles will carry the OAPA logo to help to raise awareness of the support the charity can provide. Greg said: "We are currently looking for a water supplier and distributor to help us with this campaign, so if you are in a position to help, please do get in touch."
Winter warmers will see the charity ask companies to donate sleeping bags, blankets and good quality coats to be distributed to homeless charities around the country during the winter months.
Companies wishing to get involved or financially support the charity through charitable donations are asked to register here.Get The Caterer every week on your smartphone, tablet, or even in good old-fashioned hard copy (or all three!).