For just a small fee, any hospitality worker experiencing difficulties can find a friendly voice at the end of the line, says Peter Hancock
If you are among those who have cycled, climbed, sky-dived or run for charity, then I salute you. Our industry seems to be full of people who are willing to do dangerous and exhausting things to help others. To my shame, occasionally getting out a credit card is the usual limit of my
endeavours although, to be fair, there would be no point in all that effort without the thousands of passive sponsors like me.
On one occasion I was caught stuffing my face with scones and jam during a group visit to a stately home, and when challenged as to what I was doing by a leading hotelier who happened to be there, I replied quite truthfully that I was "helping others".
One organisation that seems to have particularly galvanised the hoteliers I mix with of late is Hospitality Action, the charity that helps those from our trade who find themselves in crisis. A very useful element of its work is the Employee Assistance Programme which, for a tiny cost per head, provides 24-hour help over the phone, whatever the emergency.
As one would expect, drink and drug issues feature heavily among the helpline calls, but I was interested to learn that bullying in the workplace is a frequent problem, and often a very tricky one for managers to deal with.
The Employee Assistance Programme costs just £5 per member of staff per year (with a minimum fee of £250) and over 70,000 employees are already enrolled, giving them free access to legal support, advice over the phone, personal counselling, critical incident and trauma support,
as well as confidential whistle-blowing.
We all remember the fictional waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers who got poked in the eye whenever he made a mistake. However, his employer also suffered at the hands of an unsympathetic wife. When Sybil asked Basil why he was whistling on one occasion (actually because he'd secretly put a bet on a horse), he replied: "Just my way of getting through the day, dearâ¦ the Samaritans were engaged". Well, now we have our very own.
Peter Hancock is chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels