VIDEO: 'There are thousands of people out there for whom this small amount of money is a real life-line'

The Staff Canteen

hospitality professionals have called on each other and those who love the industry to donate and raise awareness of Hospitality Action's Covid19 Hospitality Fund.

it has so far reached £260k as people continue to donate including The Savoy Educational Trust which donated a whopping £50,000. 

Despite this generous donations, more must be raised to help those who will need financial aid - in the form of one-off £250 grants.

Mark Lewis from Hospitality Action told The Staff Canteen: "There are thousands of people out there for whom this small amount of money is a real life-line."

When the crisis began, chef Tom Brown, owner of Cornerstone restaurant in Hackney Wick, called on everyone to support Hospitality Action’s Covid19 Emergency Appeal to raise money for anyone in the industry who will need help in the coming months.The charitiable organisation is offering one-off £250 grant packages, starting on March 27th until funds are exhausted, for which you can apply here.

Two weeks ago, Tom believed it would all blow over and everything would be fine.

Now, after the government’s announcement advising people not to go to restaurants and bars - culminating in their closure on Friday - he realises the effect is going to be massive. Though he feels more positive after the UK's chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced an unprecedented financial scheme to support jobs in the industry, he feels that there is still more that can be done.

click to donate: Please give whatever you can today and leave a note in the descriptionthat it is for the covid19 Hospitality fund

Though it is now closed, the chef said he kept Cornerstone open for as long as he could, warning his staff that they could find themselves out of a job if it ended up closing.  


Yesterday I had to have a talk with my @cornerstonehackney family that no chef ever wants to have with their team; I had to tell them that very soon I won’t be able to pay them and they might not have a job anymore. My team, just like millions of hospitality workers out there, can’t simply work from home. I refuse to sit back and watch them be overlooked. The government needs to do more, but until they do, I have decided to support @hospitalityaction and the great work they are doing on the ground to help people in our industry pay their bills in these scary times. My team spend their days and nights looking after others, it’s time they were looked after now. Please donate generously where possible 🙏🏻❤️💥 link in bio #wevegotyou

A post shared by Tom Brown (@cheftombrown) on


“It is one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had to have. I was really emotional and upset and the response the staff met me with was ‘chef it isn’t your fault’ and ‘we’ll make it work, when it’s over we’ll all bounce back together’.

“That is something which is so typical of the hospitality industry – that resilience, that camaraderie and that brotherhood. I don’t think I’ve ever been so touched by something.

“After I spoke to all of my staff, I thought it is such a shit situation for them to be in. I’m probably going to be all right, I’m not worried about my business, but all of the staff have their rent to pay and bills and they are suddenly going to have no way of doing that.

“I felt a bit helpless that there was nothing I could do for them but it’s not just them it’s across the whole industry.”

Covid19 Emergency Appeal

In a bid to make sure teams like his can continue to get by despite the crisis, Tom, along with Hospitality Action, is asking people to support the indsutry.

People can do this, he explained, by donating a small amount of money which they would have spent if they were going out, to the charity’s Covid19 Emergency Appeal.

“I spoke to Hospitality Action and decided to jump on it and get all of my celebrity friends, other chefs and people who love restaurants to try and help raise awareness about this because it’s a really damaging time for this industry.”

Tom has already posted a video with actor Stephen Graham who is playing a chef in a new film called Boiling Point. Tom has been advising the actors and the team on their roles and asked Stephen for his support – he is the first of many with chefs like Gareth Ward and James Cochran following suit.

"Please donate but if you can't help raise awareness and post your own video, use #wevegotyou and tag @hospitalityaction and myself @cheftombrown."

How much money will it take to make a difference?

“Honestly, I don’t know," explained Tom. "There is no telling really because we don’t know how many people will lose their jobs, how much support people will need and ultimately nobody knows how long this will go on for.

“The more that gets raised the better.”

He added: “I totally appreciate that everyone is having a hard time right now and it’s not just our industry which has been hit, it’s everyone’s, all that is being asked is that if you were going to go out this weekend and have a Guinness for St Patrick's Day or you were going to go out for Mother’s Day and you would have left a tip – please donate that little amount and it will go a long way.

“Everyone wants restaurants to bounce back, so the more you reach out to people and they reach out to other people – everyone seems very keen to get on it and help everyone.”

Hospitality Action

HA urgently need to build up funds so they are able to make one-off awards to eligible workers facing hardship.

Mark Lewis, Hospitality Action Chief Executive, said: “To be effective in meeting the anticipated demand we need to secure funds before we open the scheme for grant applicants so we urgently need the industry to mobilise. We won’t be able to help everybody who applies, but with your support we will reach as many people as the fund allows.”

Eligibility terms for the grant

To be eligible for the £250 grand, applicants must currently be working within the UK hospitality industry or have worked in the industry within the last month; have savings of less than £1,000 per person or £2,000 for a family or couple (including rolling bank balance), not accounting for any state benefit income.

How to apply 

To apply, professionals must complete this application form, providing us with evidence of current or most recent employment within the hospitality industry by sending a copy of a full month’s bank statement for the previous month, including salary and name of employer.

To this must be attached a recent statement for all accounts (bank, building society, post office) and written evidence from your employer testifying of a redundancy or pay reduction as a direct result of the coronavirus.

Applications can be considered as of today (23rd March 2020) until the fund is exhausted. Applications are limited to one per household.

click to donate: Please give whatever you can today and leave a note in the description specifying that it is for the covid19 Hospitality fund

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 6th April 2020

VIDEO: 'There are thousands of people out there for whom this small amount of money is a real life-line'