Hospitality leaders call for action against ‘physical and mental abuse’ in industry

Leaders of the region’s hospitality industry have called for more action to be taken to support workers in the sector suffering with mental health problems.

The catering and hospitality industry has “massive problems” with talking about mental illness, said award-winning chef Charlie Hodson.

He said: “It’s still a somewhat macho industry and people will just tell you to get on with it.”

Mr Hodson, owner of Charlie’s Food Heroes, was hosting a panel at the Local Flavours food and drink exhibition at the Norfolk Showground yesterday.

The panel’s topic was Hospitality Action, which is a charity that provides support – be it for personal or professional issues – to people working in the hospitality industry.

The charity launched a regional branch in April: Hospitality Action East Anglia.

Steve Thorpe, former head of City College Norwich’s hotel, hair and beauty school, said: “There is no industry where it’s good enough to tell someone to ‘man up’. It’s a slippery slope for someone working 17-hour days, seven days a week, to go from having a few Red Bulls a day to a few an hour, to a beer an hour to a bottle of spirit.”

Mr Thorpe, who now sits on the board of Hospitality Action East Anglia, continued: “Very often people feel like they can’t talk to their boss about personal issues, and that’s not right.”

The panel was one of many at the Local Flavours event, which saw 1500 attendees turn out to develop partnerships and meet with potential suppliers.

The event, sponsored by Birketts, also saw the launch of the New Anglia LEP Skills agenda for hospitality, leisure and tourism.

“I think it’s really important to talk about this because I believe that this country at the moment is at the forefront of the industry,” said Daniel Frear, head chef at Strattons House Hotel.

“We’re leading the way in some ways, but the way kitchens are run in this country is ten years behind other countries. It’s not good enough to get out of bed and not want to go to work for fear of being physically or mentally abused.”

The 23-year-old chef continued: “I hope that my staff would always feel like they can come and talk to me about anything – that’s the sort of example I want to set.”

Courtesy of The EDP– 30/09/2019

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