'I wanted to try and support a charity, and this one really struck home'

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th October 2020

'The c-word', as many will come to know Covid by, felt as good a reason as any for Tom Aikens to hold a guest chef series at Muse.

 

The award-winning chef's latest venture received beaming reviews all round in the short period after it opened in early 2020, but as every other restaurant up and down the country, was forced to close shortly thereafter. 

And so, as a special treat for his team and guests and to acknowledge the hardships many have endured this year, the series of guest chef appearances included Robin Gill, who kicked it off, with Alex Dilling and more to follow. 

All of the proceeds for the events are going to Only a Pavement Away (OAPA), a charity which helps homeless people including veterans and ex-offenders to find work in hospitality,

Founded by Greg and Gill Mangham, who packed in their day jobs to dedicate themselves to the cause, OAPA has predictably seen a high rise in demand for its services since the onset of the pandemic.

Tom began supporting the charity during lockdown, with enough time on his hands to put them to good use. 

"I wanted to try and support a charity, and this one really struck home." he said

"It's helping homeless people and others who - through Covid - have lost their jobs or can't support themselves anymore."

"What they're doing sounded amazing to me so I got in touch with them and asked what I could do to help." 

His social media accounts were soon flooded with five minute Charity Cookery Challenge videos, whereby he asked fellow chefs to cook a meal in five minutes, donate £5 to the Hospitality Against Homelessness campaign and nominate five friends to pass on the challenge. 

"It was quite hilarious - what was pulled off and what wasn't pulled off," he laughed. 

"Covid has been a learning experience for all of us - in terms of business, but also to have time to reflect, to see family, and have a bit of normality - if there can be such a word in the crazy time that we're in." 

The OAPA has support from charities Crisis, St Mungos for the Homeless, Centrepoint and The Big Issue Foundation, and hospitality providers Byron, De Vere Hotels, Fuller’s, Greene King, Gaucho, MacDonald Hotels & Resorts, Topgolf and Youngs.

It has since partnered with software company Polaris Elements to create a jobs board and employment portal to connect applicants and employers.

Furthermore, a cookbook featuring almost 200 recipes created during the Charity Cookery Challenge will be available from November 2020, with all proceeds going towards supporting both Only A Pavement Away members and non-members get back into work. 

For more information about OAPA and how you can lend your support, visit https://onlyapavementaway.co.uk/

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 25th October 2020

'I wanted to try and support a charity, and this one really struck home'