Strengthening Communities: The role of Hospitality in tough times
As economic uncertainties persist, Andrea Rasca, CEO of Mercato Metropolitano, highlights the crucial role of the hospitality sector as community hubs.
In the face of challenges like Brexit and the cost-of-living crisis, Rasca emphasises the industry’s potential to be a transformative force. This article explores how collaboration, sustainability, and strategic partnerships can make hospitality businesses agents of positive change in tough times.
Community resurgence: Hospitality’s response to economic uncertainties
Beyond places to socialise, hospitality businesses are essential hubs, providing a vital community space for friends, families, and vulnerable people during trying times. As winter exacerbates the struggles of the most vulnerable, there is an opportunity for the hospitality sector to make a meaningful impact on the lives of those who need them most.
In yet another challenging year, the hospitality sector has been hard hit by a cost-of-living crisis that shows no signs of going away as per recent statistics.
Right now, both people and businesses are tackling the challenges brought about by Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis, and global economic uncertainty. Over the past year, a quarter of working families in London have struggled to feed their families on multiple occasions while 14 percent say they have had to turn to a food support service for the first time, according to the Felix Project.
While it might be tempting for any business in tough times to focus solely on self-preservation, the reality is that firms in the hospitality sector not only play an integral role in communities, but their fortunes are symbiotically linked with them.
Beyond building goodwill, this interdependence is why it is crucial for hospitality businesses to support their local communities. With the announcement of new more stringent immigration policies in the Autumn Statement, there is an even greater need to reach out to local communities with offers of jobs and training. Programmes, for instance, that equip people with hospitality skills not only increase the pool of new recruits but contribute to the development, economic resilience and confidence of communities.
Beyond employment, hospitality businesses can offer assistance to people through working with them, promoting sustainable practices, and partnering with local charities to address specific needs within the community. By aligning with organisations dedicated to social welfare, businesses can effectively channel resources and support to those who need it most. Finally, by adopting environmentally friendly practices, such as reducing waste and sourcing local, businesses can contribute to the broader goal of building more sustainable communities.
The UK government also plays a pivotal role in building a positive environment for hospitality businesses and their communities. Existing policies only scratch the surface. What the sector needs, now more than ever, is tangible solutions. Increasing the National Living Wage to £11.44 an hour is a positive step. But it has been accompanied by an immigration strategy that will deny the industry access to valuable employees. Policies and strategies need to not only be cohesive but also informed by an understanding of the challenges faced by the industry. Doing so will ensure they are equipped with the support they need to help their communities.
Leading the Way
Over Christmas, Mercato Metropolitano, and its broader purpose Movimento Metropolitano, launched a festive campaign to help 1,190 families and vulnerable people in hard-to-reach communities. The holiday initiative brought people together through a Santa’s Grotto, free of charge to SEN children and those at Evelina Hospital, a soup kitchen event with entertainment and music on Christmas Eve, and a free Christmas Lunch on Christmas Day available to everyone in the community. This campaign, showcasing the power of local businesses in leading the way in social impact, is a part of Movimento Metropolitano’s wider ambition to support 65,000 families, vulnerable adults and people in local communities across London over the next five years. With many people in the UK struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, now is the time to open hearts and spaces to tackle the issues faced by those most vulnerable.
With the economic challenges facing the UK, it is vital that hospitality businesses recognise their unique potential to act as agents of change. Communities need the hospitality sector to transcend the role of service provider and become a pillar of support. By taking action, launching community initiatives, building strategic partnerships, and championing sustainability, the hospitality sector can become a powerful force for good and embody the transformative potential of business to shape the lives of people and communities across the UK.