In many industries, employees are winding down and coasting into the holiday period. Not so in hospitality.
Restaurants, pubs and bars are bracing themselves for a month of office parties and New Year shindigs. And hotels are preparing to lay on indulgent stays for those sensible souls who like to outsource the roasting of the turkey to someone else.
At such a happy, exciting and busy time of the year, it's easy to forget that there are many people who derive little joy from Christmas, due to loneliness, poverty, bereavement or ill health. Inevitably, some of them have backgrounds in hospitality.
Hospitality Action (HA) is the industry's benevolent trust, which helps people who have fallen on hard times. One of its many invaluable services is its Family Members Scheme, which offers much-needed human contact to people who have retired from the industry. Members receive regular newsletters, birthday and Christmas cards and gifts, and visits at home from volunteers. They also receive invitations to free regional lunches. This week I attended one such lunch at the Holiday Inn Mayfair, in London. It was a joyous occasion, thanks to the effort of executive housekeeper and keen HA supporter Paul McKee and his team.
Guests enjoyed a splendid turkey lunch and two hours of fun and camaraderie, before spilling out into the cold afternoon with a profound sense that the industry they served hadn't forgotten about them.
December is bound to fly by in a whirl of hard work and hard-earned fun. Come January, why not consider supporting HA's Family Members Scheme, and helping those less fortunate than you?