By 2022, the government hope to have homelessness halved. To help reduce the ever-increasing strain on government funding required to support those who find themselves in such extreme and vulnerable circumstances, Only A Pavement Away was founded. The charity was created by representatives from the hospitality industry to help homeless, ex-offenders and ex-service personnel get back into the community, find accommodation and seek a fresh start. The group specifically focus on finding work within the hospitality, pub and restaurant industry.

The charity aims to help those who have been made homeless or are in danger of homelessness, for example people who are sofa hopping. Ex-offenders & ex-service personnel who are returning to the community, in need of employment, accommodation and a fresh start, will also be represented by OAPA. They will also be working with End Youth Homelessness and Youth Support Trust to help leavers start their career.

Only A Pavement Away will create a collaborative approach between the applicant and the employer, by acting as the middle man between the charities/ associations and the hospitality industry. They will help ease the transition into work for those involved in the project and facilitate a route into work which was previously seen as prohibitive. 

Rough sleep numbers in England rose this year for the seventh year running, with an estimated 4,751 people bedding down outside overnight in 2017 which was a 15% increase from the previous year. That number has already increased again with September 2018 figures recording that 8108 people were sleeping rough for at least one night. Of those sleeping rough 33% are ex-offenders and 7% are ex-personnel. 

With the prison population on the continued rise, a population of 83673 was estimated in May 2018, the pressure to keep reoffending down is massive. Reoffending by all recent ex-prisoners costs the economy between £9.5 and £13 billion annually. Around a third of people about to leave prison said that they had nowhere to stay. 

Only A Pavement Away, which relies heavily on funding, aims to see up to 500 disadvantaged people employed within the trade in its first year, and be a nationwide campaign by January 2019.  

OAPA founder and chief executive Greg Mangham, a hospitality stalwart said: “Our mission is to help reintegrate people back into society through employment, giving individuals a fresh start, whether homeless, ex-military personnel or ex-offenders. We have an opportunity to nurture a partnership between those charities that manage and assist the vulnerable, with an industry that is looking to fill a wealth of roles and opportunities with people from all walks of life.”

Homelessness charity Crisis worked closely with OAPA to advise on the process participants would be led through and to help ensure that they would receive all the care and support they need.

Companies which have linked up with the charity in order to provide industry training, relationships and employment include Pub Love, Young’s Pubs, Beds and Bars, Stonegate Pub Company, McMullen and Glendola Leisure. Pubcos, Brewhouse & Kitchen and Youngs, were also part of the pilot schemes runs, the resulted in encouraging outcomes. 

As an industry built on people, Only A Pavement Away believe that it is the sector that allows people the most opportunity and a chance to forge a career, after a few step backs. 

“Through the support of many other passionate people in the sector the project has been brought to life and now we are working to ensure our partnerships, processes and support package has the solid foundation from which to grow the charity,” added Greg.

In conjunction with Barclays and Think Hostility, OAPA are holding a conference in February and a fundraiser in May to gain nationwide involvement.