Mental health in Hospitality is a hot topic on everyone’s mind. Two years today, the Coronavirus pandemic not only shook the hospitality industry to its core but it joined forces with Brexit and the industry lost many of its workers.

Despite its setbacks, the UK Hospitality and Tourism industry still plays a crucial part in the UK economy employing 4.49 million workers as of April 2021. Whilst an important industry, it is unfortunately known for its levels of poor mental health.

8 out of 10 hospitality professionals report having experienced at least one mental health issue during their career.

Those working within the hospitality industry have seen first-hand the after-effects of long hours, tough environmental conditions, slim margins, and pressures to perform.

Mental Health in hospitality - The Burnt Chef Project

Mental Health & The Burnt Chef Project

Luckily, help is at hand. The Burnt Chef Project, a non-profit social enterprise, are fully committed to making the hospitality profession healthier and more sustainable. Through offering tools, services, and training, The Burnt Chef Project is building the capability of owners, line managers and employees. As a result, they are enhancing the awareness of mental health and the importance of having open conversations. 

Kris Hall, Founder of The Burnt Chef project says:

“I’ve been working closely within the hospitality industry for around 9 years and have seen first hand the struggles of mental health issues within the trade with both clients and friends. Margins are slim and with an increased focus on saving money both employers and employees feel the effect of this on their mental health.

Jo Kernan – Burnt Chef Project Ambassador

Platinum’s Joanne Kernan, Assistant Team Manager for the Regional Department, was asked to become an Ambassador for The Burnt Chef Project.

It’s a perfect alignment for Jo who, after years of working in the hospitality industry, has witnessed how poor management and stigma have impacted the Chefs she now works with. In her own words, Jo tells us of her personal experiences with mental health in hospitality, and how she’s proud to be a spokesperson for an organisation that’s having a positive impact on the industry she loves.

Mental health in hospitality - Joanne Kernan ambassador

Hello! My name’s Jo Kernan, Senior Recruiter in the Regional Division at Platinum Recruitment. I have two grown-up sons, whom I adore and who keep me in check! We are big Marvel fans in our household, and spend a considerable amount of time watching the films (Thor being a personal favourite!)

How did you first get involved in hospitality?

I have been working in the hospitality sector since 2005, where I started out in the supply of fresh produce. Working directly with chefs in many of the South Coast’s best hotels and restaurants afforded me the opportunity to now work with Platinum Recruitments Regional division. I still supply many of those same establishments, but instead of fresh produce, I offer them quality Chefs and Kitchen staff to help support their brigades.

How have you noticed the hospitality industry change in recent years?

The hospitality industry has always been a hot, pressurized arena however, the last few years seem to have made it a whole lot worse! Of course, the pandemic has not helped and staff retention has been a big part of it. Lockdown hit our industry hard and in its darkest hour, we lost some of our greatest Chefs to mental health problems. 

Joanne Kernan wearing her Burnt Chef Project Hoodie

When did you first hear about The Burnt Chef Project?

I have known about the Burnt Chef Project since its inception in 2019. To be asked to be an Ambassador for them is a personal achievement of mine. I am extremely honoured and proud to be a part of their mission.

You can visit the full list of The Burnt Chef UK Ambassadors here.

What do you love about The Burnt Chef Project?

I like the fact that The Burnt Chef Project is tailored specifically for the hospitality industry. The focus is on the welfare of staff over and above profit. The organisation is actively making a difference with the education and re-education of hospitality establishments.

Understanding that staff members are human beings with lives, families, and bills to pay makes a difference. Hospitality staff are not just a commodity to make money off the back of. The Burnt Chef Project is highlighting this by offering resources and training to businesses and managers in need.

The future of hospitality

What do you hope to achieve by being an Ambassador?

I hope to make a difference in the industry. To improve working conditions and pay rates for all those in Hospitality, specifically for the hundreds of chefs I work with daily. I hope they know that I try my best every day to look after them. 

I fight their corner and make sure they have what they need.  Make sure they have the time off to decompress, and someone to talk to at the end of a phone. They know I don’t judge and am happy to listen. 

Sometimes life can hit us hard and we all need to recognise that no one person is immune. If we all make small changes for the better of our colleagues, the hospitality industry will only bloom.

If people could do just one thing to help…

Walk a day, a week in the shoes of anyone who works in hospitality. Be a human being. Low pay rates, long hours, verbal abuse – this is not okay. If you are in a position of power, management or leadership, ask questions.

“Would I want my teenager/partner/relative treated or spoken to like this?” If the answer is no; do better.

If you would like to find out more about the great work of The Burnt Chef Project, please visit their website here. To see how Jo Kernan can help you with staffing solutions or your job search, visit her Profile.

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