The Homeless Hospitality Crisis

As our industry continues to suffer many have lost their home as well as their job.

Anna and her Under One Sky team

The list of problems that have been caused by Covid 19 are vast and well known, however there is one that has not received the column inches that it deserves and is, unfortunately, highly relevant to the hospitality industry.

Earlier this month The Guardian stepped up with its article entitled ‘Tens of thousands made homeless despite UK ban on evictions during pandemic’. It contained some very sobering facts:

  • Since April at least 90,063 in the UK have been threatened with homelessness – more than half of these have already lost their accommodation
  • Data from 204 councils showed 6,184 were served section 21 notices and 46,894 came to the council saying they were already homeless

You’ll recall that the government banned the serving a section 21 notice (evicting someone) during the pandemic, yet the numbers were only 69% down on 2019 according to the Institute for Public Policy Research. This is due to people being unaware of the ban and rogue bailiffs simply ignoring the government instructions.

The article went on to focus on the increased numbers of people from our industry – ‘Charities say younger people working in hospitality among the worst affected’. This is, they explained, partly due to the ‘precarious living arrangements’ of many in hospitality whose accommodation is linked to their job, living in a hotel or pub. It is also the nature of hospitality workers living in small overcrowded accommodation which is doable when everyone is working shifts but not sustainable when everyone is at home during the pandemic.

Anna Sebastian, Bar Manager at the Artesian, has been working with a homeless charity called Under One Sky in London since the first lockdown started and she has seen this problem first hand whilst out on the capital’s streets:

‘Overall we have seen a huge rise in numbers generally but with a big focus on those working in hospitality who now are the ones asking for help instead of being able to give it. Redundancy and minimum furlough pay has meant they have had little or no support and had only the streets to turn to.

It’s easy to forget without a support network how little facilities there are to help those who have become a victim of Covid. I’ve met all sorts of hospitality workers from establishments that we all know on the streets, it makes you realise how close we all are to it.’

With the government’s tier system once again targeting hospitality it is a sad inevitability that the situation is going to continue getting worse. With winter coming and less people walking the streets on a daily basis those sleeping rough need more help than ever

The charities helping those on our streets are reaching breaking point as the numbers rise and they need help to look after those in our hospitality family who have found themselves in the worst position.

There are many ways you can help out. As always most importantly reach out to anyone you know is struggling at the moment, make sure they are aware of the law and help them get help if needed. Supporting one another is still a vital tool and will hopefully help quell the numbers in the coming months.

If you are able to help either financially or with your time, there are many national homelessness charities who would be very grateful. Alternatively find a local charity, as Anna did with Under One Sky, to become part of a team to support your local area.

We know many of you are suffering at the moment but for those of you who are in a position to help it would be greatly appreciated by everyone involved.

Anna has set up an Amazon Wishlist of items needed by Under One Sky to help those in London which you can find here.