‘Only A Pavement Away’ is helping the homeless into hospitality jobs

The newly-formed charity is targeting getting 500 homeless people, ex-military personnel and people with convictions into bar and restaurant work in its first year

A charity officially launched on World Homeless Day is aiming to reduce both homelessness and problems in the hospitality sector at the same time.

Only A Pavement Away (OAPA), founded by hospitality stalwart Greg Mangham, has been designed to help homeless people, ex-military personnel and people with convictions into work – while plugging a gap in the staffing crisis currently faced by bars and restaurants across the UK.

Homelessness charity Crisis worked closely with OAPA to advise on the process participants would be led through and to help ensure that they would receive all the care and support they need.

People are referred to OAPA via other charities and partnerships before they receive an initial assessment. They are then placed on the relevant training courses to qualify them for work in hospitality, and finally given comprehensive support with interview preparation by industry professionals.

Each person’s skills are matched to vacancies by charity staff and the client will receive another 12 months of support from OAPA and partners.

The charity said: “It seemed only sensible to look to resolve both problems through one overarching approach, whilst reducing the ever-increasing strain on government funding required to support those who find themselves in such extreme and vulnerable circumstances.

“Jobs in the hospitality industry help those affected to be integrated into communities and positively rebuild their lives and careers.”

Companies which have linked up with the charity in order to provide industry training, relationships and employment include Pub Love, Young’s Pubs, Beds and Bars, Stonegate Pub Company, McMullen and Glendola Leisure.

A partnership has also been arranged with the High Sheriff of Suffolk to help those leaving prison into a job in hospitality.

Mangham, also OAPA’s chief executive, said: “Our mission is to help reintegrate people back into society through employment, giving individuals a fresh start, whether homeless, ex-military personnel or ex-offenders.

“We have an opportunity to nurture a partnership between those charities who help the vulnerable, with an industry that is looking to fill a wealth of roles and opportunities with people from all walks of life.

Programme trials have been running since April, but the charity was officially launched ahead of the pilot findings being taken in front of MPs in the House of Commons.

OAPA aims to have up to 500 disadvantaged people in jobs within the first year.

Those behind the charity met with the Ministry of Justice’s offender employment team plus social justice charity Nacro and the Corbett Network (which links dozens of rehabilitation project heads) in order to develop their strategy.

“Through the support of many other passionate people in the sector the project has been brought to life and now we are working to ensure our partnerships, processes and support package has the solid foundation from which to grow the charity,” added Greg.

Image: OAPA