W Bro Richard Cavanagh reports
ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY is a charity founded by representatives from the hospitality industry who believe that everyone deserves the chance to find and forge a career. The charity acts as a conduit to employment, helping those people facing homelessness to get into work via its Life Skills programme. It helps provide skills and work experience with the aim of finding participants jobs within the hospitality sector.
To support this important work, The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) donated a grant of £50,000 as part of its covid-relief charity programme. This donation has helped to establish the charity’s new Life Skills Hub, which provides essential life skills and long-term support to people facing or experiencing homelessness in London. Training is given on how to live independently whilst also developing participants’ employability skills and giving them the tools they need to get back on their feet. Participants learn valuable information around the practical benefits of cooking for oneself, training in the production of menus from ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY’s employer partners, presentation of dishes by celebrity and professional chefs, CV writing, interviewing skills, the use of IT, budgeting, additional support that they might need and access to the ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY Jobs Board.
The Life Skills programme is run by industry volunteers who consist of chefs, such as ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY ambassador and Michelin Chef Tom Aikens, and volunteers from the hospitality sector, as well as working with specialist trainers to provide quality training. Over the last year, the hub has been delivering a pilot series of 3-week courses with participants receiving a qualification to take them forward to access NVQ level 1 and 2 certifications. Each participant has received an ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY Life Skills Course certificate which can be given to potential employers. Thus far, 38 participants have taken part in the courses, with 68% of participants getting into employment. Three more courses are planned for 2022.
One participant described just how important ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY’s support has been: ‘My whole world has changed in the last week. The Ivy is great, has talented staff and a real posh vibe, lol. I’m making friends and doing the right thing in my cheeky way. I thank you all very much; with you and my charity, I’ve come a long way. I feel very confident I can do this.’
Employers have also been very positive about the project, with many participants being offered employment on completion of their placements: ‘The ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY candidate was outstanding. We were unexpectedly busy on both days of his work experience, and he didn’t panic or get flustered. He literally rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in doing everything we asked of him and also took a bit of initiative and did things that obviously needed doing before being asked. He was super friendly and had a really positive attitude in very challenging circumstances.’ Following the work experience, the candidate was offered a role.
Greg Mangham, Founder of Only a Pavement Away, said, ‘Not only are we looking to get vulnerable groups into employment, more importantly, the ONLY A PAVEMENT AWAY Life Skills Hub will allow participants to adopt crucial life skills such as budgeting and interview preparation, that they would otherwise not have the opportunity to develop. We want to give homeless people more than a way out of homelessness, but a way into long-term, progressive careers, ensuring they can re-gain stability without falling back into homelessness. It’s vital that we continue to remember that hospitality is the community.’
To find out more about this charity and the incredible support it provides, please visit https://onlyapavementaway.co.uk/
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 47 January 2022 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 47 here.