I’m constantly on the lookout for ways in which travel companies or their clients can give back to the destinations they frequent. Organizations that promote conservation tourism, or service-oriented travel, are dear to my heart, including Rebecca Recommends’ Design for Life, which through the production and sales of Pashmina shawls, linen and wool scarves and other ethically designed items, joins local Nepalese charitable foundations to touch the lives of earthquake survivors and children in that region.
You can imagine my joy, then, in discovering The Goring Hotel’s collaboration with The Passage Homeless Resource Centre in London. The two are neighbors in Belgravia, and now a force for good in the creation of Hotel School, a forward-thinking collaboration between homeless charities and the hospitality industry. The School was founded in 2017 and is intended to inspire vulnerable and homeless persons in our world to take an interest in hospitality; they are taught the basics in an interactive manner, then progressed into full-time work with a close mentorship. The School partners with most of London’s major homeless charities – and a few farther afield – as well as major hotels, including The Ritz, Red Carnation and Park Plaza groups.
Rising stars of the hotel industry, Michelin-starred chefs and award-winning baristas teach masterclasses, host Q&A sessions and offer their engaging insights as part of a curriculum designed by leading education expert Geoff Booth. Our dear friend Jeremy Goring, co-founder of the School – says, “Hotels and restaurants are packed with witty, entertaining, genuinely interesting people, so when we designed this program, we called around to see who might put their hand up to come and volunteer. Everybody we called, whether Michelin-star chef, hipster barista, hotel managing director or master cocktail mixologist, said yes without any hesitation.”
A singular enterprise in the hospitality industry, Hotel School is already yielding impressive results. At any given time, there is an average of 12 students, 11 of which are completing the 12-week program, with 8 or 9 finding sustained, full-time employment in partner businesses. This means that some who may not have worked for 30 or more years, have found employment – and therefore, housing – through the program. Lives are being changed on a daily basis. Mick Clarke, the CEO of Passage and co-founder of Hotel School, remarks, “The Passage is all about ending homelessness. Hotel School gives homeless people the opportunity to access real employment in one of the most exciting and rewarding sectors to work in.”
Part of Hotel School’s appeal is the uniquely engaging manner in which it introduces one to the industry. Jeremy believes students stick with the program because there are such gifted teachers teaching core skills, but also because it’s fun. Famous personalities, such as John Williams, The Ritz’s Michelin-star chef, Chris Galvin, and the famous “headmistress,” Veronique, who worked as head of training for Gordon Ramsay, bring an all-star appeal to the School. Will Greenwood OBE, rugby world cup winner and Sky Sports presenter, is one of a growing team of volunteer mentors, trainers, chefs and inspirational speakers. He brings his focus on fitness and a healthy lifestyle to those for whom physical health is a barrier to entering the workforce.
To learn more about this incredible effort, visit Hotel School. For more information about the founders, please visit The Goring Hotel and The Passage Homeless Resource Centre. You may also follow Hotel School’s new social channels via @hotelschoollondon.