At its conference this week (19 March) in Covent Garden’s H Club, OAPA boss Greg Mangham also called for industry support for two new campaigns to help homeless people in the short to medium term – Summer Sips and Winter Warmers.
Summer Sips will provide every rough sleeper with a bottle of water every night for 12 weeks across the summer months. The bottles will carry the OAPA logo to help raise awareness of the support the charity can provide.
OAPA is calling for companies to donate sleeping bags, blankets and good-quality coats, which will then be distributed to homeless charities around the country during winter months for its Winter Warmers campaigns.
This will be made easier by the creation of a nationwide map enabling employers to identify charities in the UK that will make a difference to charities themselves and to companies wanting to fill vacancies.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke said: “As a former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 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 benefiting 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 OAPA for helping vulnerable people and those with convictions into work, while also providing employers with a previously untapped pool of motivated and loyal staff who want to be given a chance to get on in the world of work. It’s a win-win approach.”
Other speakers at the conference including former journalist, news presenter and author of From Headlines to Hard Times Ed Mitchell.
He outlined his own experience of homelessness and how he found himself on the streets, aged 54, when his alcoholism resulted in divorce and bankruptcy.
Mitchell said: “Even seemingly successful people are only a fraction away from failure. I could not have survived without the support provided by the homeless charities.”
Pub companies that highlighted the success they have had with recruiting employees through OAPA included Brewhouse & Kitchen, PubLove and Young's.
PubLove CEO Ben Stackhouse said: “There are so many benefits from getting involved with OAPA. 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 are 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.”
Companies wishing to get involved or financially support the charity through charitable donations are asked to register at https://onlyapavementaway.co.uk/get-involved/.
Greg Mangham can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org.