Pubs should keep ‘open mind’ in recruitment

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Recruitment crisis: Everyone deserves a chance to build a career (Getty/ Hispanolistic)
Recruitment crisis: Everyone deserves a chance to build a career (Getty/ Hispanolistic)

Related tags Training Only A Pavement Away Social responsibility

Employers should keep an open mind when recruiting those facing homelessness, who can prove invaluable members of a team, according to founder of Only A Pavement Away.

The charity, which launched in 2018, believes everyone has the chance to find and forge a career. It works with the hospitality industry, using a jobs board as a pathway to link employers with charities and organisations that represent people who are leaving prison, have faced or are facing homelessness, ex-veterans and rough sleepers now in hostel accommodation. 

The Morning Advertiser​ spoke to Only A Pavement Away co-founder Greg Mangham about why hospitality businesses should consider recruiting people through the scheme and how they can be accommodating for its members. 

This comes after research revealed the current vacancy rate for hospitality businesses stood at 11%​ compared with the UK average of 4%, with the recruitment crisis costing the sector £22bn per year.​ 

The charity prioritises quality not quantity, added Mangham, aiming to provide businesses with people who want to be part of a team and work in hospitality. Some 88% of members stayed for longer than a year, according to the founder. 

It’s important to change perceptions, said Mangham. A recent survey commissioned by the charity showed businesses, before taking on a member from the charity, thought prisoners would steal more and be unreliable. However, about 90% of those surveyed said that belief was eradicated after taking on a member, as you then “see the person”. 

Adding value

Mangham continued: “If you take on an ex-military person, you're going get to work, process, discipline and camaraderie. Take on a prison leaver, you're going to get someone who's very streetwise has a work ethic – because the harder they work in prison, the better benefits they get – and if you take on someone who's had to sleep homeless, you've got tenacity, strength, and courage.  

“You can just take three of these people on, and they will give so much value to say that you can't write down the worth of.” 

It was important to recognise these recruits needed their self-esteem built up by employers, as their confidence would likely be low, Mangham continued. 

“If someone doesn't turn up, or if someone's late, two days on the trot, don't just beat them off,” he added. Employers are able to call a 24-hour charity hotline, who can contact the client. If the member is having bigger issues, like trouble paying rent, or issues reconnecting with family, then Only A Pavement Away can step in and pay off the debt. 

The founder also said employers should understand discipline was important to the charity’s members, who may have been used to getting up when the lights turned on at prison or getting up when told to do so in the military. “When you’re told you’re doing all different shifts [in hospitality],” he added, “then you have to get into that discipline of getting up and being ready for work at a certain time.” 

However, out of all 125 of the charity’s employers, Mangham could not name one without empathy. “That’s the power of hospitality,” he added. “Everybody who joins hospitality, we look at a potential future for them as general manager, regional manager or director.” 

Life skills

Only A Pavement Away also runs life skills sessions, run by industry volunteers, where participants learn skills like CV writing, budgeting and interviewing skills. These have taken place with Greene King and Fuller’s in the past.  

“They work, because that's a chance for the employer and the recruiter to see who these people really are,” said Mangham. The workshops also boost participants’ self-esteem and confidence. 

The charity also hosts ‘Learning Kitchens’ – kitchens set up in prisons where serving prisoners can learn the skills and behaviours required to work in a professional kitchen.  

Mangham also believed perceptions of hospitality were changing for the better. The sector was moving away from the ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ image where staff were overworked and shouted at. “We want to treat people decently,” he added.  

People were also drawn to the fact hospitality was not low-skilled but was not academic. “We could teach you the right way to do it and give you to an employer who's going to teach you the right way to do it,” said Mangham. “All we want is your attitude and your behaviour and your desire to succeed and reintegrate back into society, we will give you the rest.” 

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