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Only A Pavement Away has joined forces with Johnny Mercer, former MP Minister for Veterans Affairs and Scotty Mills, former Royal Marine’s Officer to promote this untapped talent pool and help get more veterans into the hospitality workforce.
This exciting new OAPA partnership brings a government focus, and military know-how, to the challenge of helping veterans who are facing homelessness back into mainstream employment.
Greg Mangham, CEO of Only A Pavement Away, is passionate about getting people back into work and OAPA has placed nearly 80 into new roles in hospitality, adding £2.5 million to the UK economy. The aim now is to get a further 250 into employment.
Speaking about the new partnership, Greg was keen to highlight the commitment and skills both Johnny and Scotty bring to the challenge of getting veterans back into work and providing them with a pathway to a new career.
Johnny Mercer commented, ‘I’m delighted to be working with OAPA. It’s heartening to see the hospitality sector go the extra mile to really understand and try and get under the lid of employing veterans.’
‘Hospitality has a really good record of intervening, particularly in people's lives that are extremely complex and who could be vulnerable for any number of reasons. When I heard OAPA worked specifically for veterans, I was delighted to get involved and I'll do anything I can to help and make it a success.
Johnny continued, ‘We all know that there has been a challenge for some time around homeless veterans. We need to understand why it’s a challenge, and ask those difficult questions, for example, why do vulnerable people start in a new job then leave, what are the various experiences of veterans and how can we improve their lives? Having a job is by some distance the number one factor in improving the life chances are those who served.’
Scotty hopes his skills and knowledge of military life will help to answer and ultimately support veterans facing homelessness on the path back to stable employment and a brighter future.
‘I grew up in Peckham and joining the Marines opened my eyes to the fact people are using words like humility, integrity, understated excellent, and I realised there's so much diversity, knowledge and experience within the forces. These are skills that can benefit employers.’
Scotty sees the link between the services and the charity community as key in helping OAPA move forward. ‘It's really important to try to link with other charities to talk about early intervention so that we can reduce the likelihood of someone falling into even harder times, and also interact at the earliest possible stage to give people employment opportunities.’
It's really important for veterans who are no longer in the service to share their skills with their colleagues who have fallen on hard times. By offering mentoring, guidance and support it could lead to job opportunities for our veterans and those that are struggling on hard times, and an opportunity for the vulnerable to be able to thrive and demonstrate their potential.’
And businesses do seem to be taking notice. Greg continued, ‘Employers have approached us, asking how they can recruit veterans and we are acting as that conduit to match our members with those employers. OAPA is keen to be recognised as the charity supporting people facing homelessness, prison leavers and veterans into careers within hospitality.’
‘A lot of hospitality people are now destitute and rough sleeping/sofa surfing, and we want to help those people back into work. As the only free hospitality jobs board, we need businesses to let us know when they have vacancies coming up. We want the hospitality sector to get 100% behind OAPA and help us to help anyone facing homelessness back into work.