Paula Smith, Head of Marketing, and Carolyn Jenkinson, Head of Charity Services at the Licensed Trade Charity
The importance of listening and staying agile as a charity
The Licensed Trade Charity (LTC) has been supporting people who work, or used to work, in the licensed drinks trade since 1793. In that time the help our customers (beneficiaries) need has changed many times. The most recent during COVID-19, a clear example of that, fast-paced, changing need.
COVID-19’s impact on hospitality was well documented in the media. Our sector was hit hard, the first into lockdown and the last to re-open. Since the start of COVID-19 the Licensed Trade Charity is proud to have helped over 120,000 people and given over £3.3million in grants and services.
We have built good relationships with operators opening channels of communication that give our industry insight to shape our services, and in return sharing our own intel to support staff welfare planning within those organisations.
When COVID-19 hit, we listened and adapted, and made sure our services were relevant to the situation as it changed. So when the Government said that hospitality needed to close its doors, individuals working in the sector had no idea how they were going to pay their bills and lockdown started for many with immediate money worries. Our response was speedy.
What we did:
- We adapted our application process to ensure grants could be paid more quickly and launched a digital process to support that.
- We focused on short term hardship grants, given as digital shopping vouchers to enable people to buy food and necessities, and use their own money for rent and utility bills.
- We spoke to operators and offered our services to deliver their team member support funds and five took us up on the offer.
- We recruited colleagues who were furloughed in our schools to upscale the department and, in those first few months of lockdown, we processed almost 4,000 applications. This was a considerable uplift as prior to COVID-19 we processed an average of around 50 applications each month.
After the Government announced its plans for furlough and some level of financial stability was re-established for many, their focus changed to job security. Many worried about losing their job, especially as at that time no-one knew how long it would be before hospitality would reopen. Again, our response was speedy.
We partnered with several organisations – Hospitality Jobs UK (HJUK), CPL and Renovo – to deliver employment support services
In collaboration with Hospitality Jobs UK we created webinars that offered advice on CV writing, interview skills and job search. With CPL we offered training packages to update skills, and with HJUK and Renovo we provided intensive job search support for those who lost their job and needed help securing another.
Promoting mental well-being
As the sector moved into 2021 and settled into the next lockdown we saw an increase in calls for help with mental well-being.
Prior to the pandemic, 40% of calls to our helpline were for emotional support with 60% for practical guidance. In 2021, we reported a massive shift with almost 70% of calls for emotional help and access to our counselling services.
We have offered in the moment emotional support through our helpline for a long time and, if needed, subsequent telephone face to face counselling.
In this third wave of changing needs, we saw couples, families and housemates spending more time together than ever before during lockdown, putting a strain on many relationships.
In response to feedback we introduced couples and children’s counselling through our partnership with Relate and the demand for those services has been greater than expected.
Since 2019 we have been delivering mental health training for licensed drinks trade managers, supervisors and team leaders. These were delivered, free of charge, as one day, in person sessions to give those leaders the confidence to support their teams. We adapted those to run (still free of charge) as 2-hour online sessions that focus on first the most common mental health issues and second, practical hints and tips on managing conversations about mental wellbeing with staff and where to signpost.
Launching our app
We also launched the licensed trade charity app. Free to download, it has recognised that people who work in hospitality are busy, and for many supporting their own financial, physical and emotional well-being is low on their list of priorities
The app gives users direct access to our support, in their pocket, at a time that suits them. With one touch they can access our helpline and speak directly to an information specialist or a counsellor.
Speaking and listening to operators and individuals gives us a unique and valuable insight into the challenges people in this sector face.
We are passionate about what we do. Our first and most important objective is always to reach more people that could benefit from our help. We are honest. If we do not have a service or we cannot help an individual we will say so, but you can bet we will do everything we can to find a way to help and we are proud of the relationships we have built and the work that we do.
We are #ProudToBeLicensedTradeCharity
Written by Paula Smith, Head of Marketing