Only A Pavement Away event with Tom Aikens raises over £21k

Industry charity Only A Pavement Away and a cast of many top hospitality folk – including celebrated chef Tom Aikens, UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls, BBPA CEO Emma McClarkin and BII CEO Steve Alton – are lifting a glass after its annual Cook and Dine event yesterday raised more than £21k.

The event, held in central London, saw close to 300 people gather to enjoy a delicious 3-course lunch prepared by Aikens (pictured), and served by hospitality leaders at the stunning Grade II-listed Freemasons Hall in Covent Garden.

The amount raised, which is still rising, was the combination of table ticket sales, a charity auction and also a raffle with companies from across the industry donating prizes and auction lots.

Cook and Dine is the brainchild of Only A Pavement Away’s Founder & CEO, Greg Mangham. The premise of the unique fundraising event is simple; to bring everyone who works in the hospitality industry together, no matter their background, experience or seniority and raise funds to help support people facing homelessness find and forge new careers in hospitality.

Commenting on the success of the industry gathering, Mangham said: “We are delighted to have raised such a fantastic amount, all of which will go to help us strengthen our team ensuring we can connect with more employers, charities and candidates in finding work and stability through a career in hospitality.

“There are so many people to thank for their generosity – from the Freemasons organisation that let us have the venue for absolutely zero cost, the Strand Palace Hotel for providing their kitchen as a holding kitchen, to all of our amazing sponsors including Asahi, Caterer.com and The Pepper Collective through to Tom who prepared such a fabulous meal and the army of people that served and waited tables.

'The success of Cook and Dine just underscores what a brilliant, inclusive, caring and supportive industry we are all a part of. We’re still collecting donations from yesterday, which is amazing, and are already planning next year’s event, which we want to make even bigger and better.”

Highlights from the event included an auction lot which will see the winning bidder join UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholls for the day to visit the Houses of Parliament and enjoy lunch with an MP, plus a food study tour in Scotland with Mapal Group’s CMO James Hacon plus a 10-person dinner prepared and cooked by top chef Ben Purton.

The money raised will help dozens of Only A Pavement Away members who typically have spent time living homelessly, prison leavers or who those who have left the armed forces. The charity aims to support a further 250 people facing homelessness into jobs within hospitality over the next 12 months.

In addition to the hospitality industry’s leading trade associations, companies that were involved in supporting yesterday’s event included Event Supporters; Liberty Wines, Hildon Water, Feel Good Drinks, Pub Love, Paddy & Scott’s, TipJar, Firebird Events, Dennys Brands and Inspirational Events and Event Food suppliers; Smith & Brock, Lake District Farmers, Nurtured in Norfolk and Woods Foodservice.

Businesses who supported the event by purchasing a table included, Zonal, Fleet Street Communications, Wireless Social, Thomas Franks, Hospitality Jobs UK, Appetite 4 Recruitment, Greene King, Leisure Jobs, SRSL, Red Beetle, Licenced Trade Charity, Harri on-Trade Consultancy and MUM.

OAPA currently works alongside 87 hospitality employers and 85 charity partners, and hospitality businesses to offer employment to those facing homelessness, prison leavers and veterans. In addition, the charity also has over 200 work-ready candidates listed on its Candidate Profile Page (CPP) jobs board which is designed to support individuals who are looking to start new careers within hospitality.

The charity is also seeking funding from industry backers to enable it to reach its goal of placing 700 members into employment over the next 3 years.

Mangham added, “By 2026, it is estimated that there will be another 1.3 million vacancies in the hospitality industry. At the same time the number of rough sleepers is on the increase. By joining forces with us you can help someone get their life back on track and help fill the industry with hard-working, committed staff.”