Greg Mangham, Only A Pavement Away: ‘What I soon came to learn is that there is a big distinction between ‘do gooders’ and doing good’

The  Staff Canteen

Greg Mangham, founder and CEO of Only A Pavement Away believes that his charity is going to help people get their lives back on track, all the while supporting the hospitality sector

Only A Pavement Away (OAPA) is a non-profit organisation set up by Greg and Gill Mangham in 2018 that helps reinsert ex-prisoners, homeless people and army veterans into society by training them up as hospitality professionals.

As well as accompanying them into work, OAPA supports people into independent living and gives them financial support for rent or utility bills.  

As of the time of writing, OAPA has helped 170 people get into work and these people have then contributed £4 million to the UK economy through taxation, as Greg explained in an interview with The Staff Canteen, “if a person reoffends, that cost the taxpayer £48,000.” 

On the flip side, he added, “if they get a job, by the time they’ve paid tax, national insurance, their rent, utilities, maybe bought a new pair of trainers, then that adds probably another £9,000 that they wouldn’t have spent.” 

The cafés 

This year, OAPA is embarking on a new mission, with plans to open 10 cafés across the UK to support more people into hospitality work, providing them with “a safe haven” to train and work in an environment almost entirely staffed by OAPA members.

Greg hopes that this will not only help the charity grow but also give people the chance to get discovered and hired.  

He said: “If we can get one in every city, it will allow the public to see that people who have turned left instead of turning right are just the same as you and me. It will change perceptions.” 

He hopes that the programme will give people stability through employment, tending to their most basic needs and allowing them to build a better life than they have lived so far. 

After all, Greg remarked, it’s hard for many of us to contemplate a life of precarity, imprisonment or homelessness: “Imagine being given a flat, taken out of your environment and everything you knew and understood to just sit staring at four walls. It’s probably going to take you back out onto the streets, or back into crime, or make any mental health conditions worse.” 

The Staffing Crisis 

With tackling the staffing crisis at the forefront of many people’s minds within the industry, the question of whether OAPA will be a solution is an obvious one.  

But, Greg said, “what I came soon to learn is there’s a big distinction between ‘do gooders’ and doing good, and that’s why the premise of everything we do has a commercial aspect. Are we going to solve the recruitment crisis in hospitality? No.” But, he said, they are going to help keep people in work, and feed into a job market in dire need of skilled staff.  

“If we had 10 cafés produce 10 people a year, that’s 100 people going into hospitality,” he explained, and with the programme's high retention rates, having instilled a great work ethic and calibre into their teams, that has exponential long-term value. 

“We have a guy who’s a chef de partie in a west end restaurant. He didn’t cost that employer anything. To get that chef de partie now, in a West End restaurant, would probably cost you £8,000 or £9,000.”  

The cafés will employ between 250-300 people a year, a majority of which Greg hopes will stay in the same role.

However successful it may be, Greg was very clear that Only A Pavement Away will never have a board of directors on large salaries, and that the money donated will always go towards helping as many people as possible.

“Hospitality isn’t in your community, hospitality is your community,” he said. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 21st January 2022

Greg Mangham, Only A Pavement Away: ‘What I soon came to learn is that there is a big distinction between ‘do gooders’ and doing good’