Hospitality is an industry that runs on tough conditions, highly pressurised work environments, long hours, and slim margins. Add a pandemic into the mix and you’re left with thousands of workers facing even longer hours, increased stress, their restaurants at risk of collapse, and the very real physical threat of coronavirus. In fact, it was reported last week by the Office of National Statistics that chefs and hospitality workers are some of the occupations with the highest risk of dying from coronavirus, with a crushing 103 deaths per 100,000 male chefs.
It’s for that reason that the Burnt Chef Project’s new anonymous text support service couldn’t have come at a better time. Their support service launched on Monday and is entirely confidential, available 24/7, and - good news - completely free. Manned by a team of dedicated, trained volunteers, and overseen by clinical professionals, anyone in the hospitality industry can use the service, including owners, chefs, wait staff, and suppliers. For support all you have to do is text BURNTCHEF to 85258 and a volunteer will aim to respond to you within five minutes.
The Burnt Chef Project raised almost £3000 for the support service over the past few months with their Get Active campaign, encouraging participants to complete an incredible 3458km ‘virtual tour’ across many of the UK’s most famous restaurants, from the Isle of Skye down to Cornwall over just eight weeks. Full disclosure, that’s more exercise than we’ve completed in the last two decades.
The non-profit organisation was founded back in May 2019 by Kris Hall, having witnessed the mental health struggles of both clients and friends in the hospitality industry. One of their recent surveys showed that 8 out of 10 respondents had struggled with their mental health during their career and 46% would not feel comfortable talking about their concerns to their colleagues. The helpline aims to assist hospitality workers in coping with feelings of isolation, grief, suicidal thinking, substance misuse, eating disorders, abuse, concerns about sexual identity, and workplace bullying.
If you’re looking for ways to support the project, you can donate here or hit up their excellent online shop. Seriously they’ve got everything from branded chef tweezer kits, to a cookbook including recipes from some of London’s top chefs, to reusable drink bottles. We’ve got our eye on their great range of ‘f**ck stigma’ t-shirts and hoodies. You can also follow them on Instagram to keep up to date with all of their upcoming projects, podcast episodes, and new merch. Here’s to the Burnt Chef Project.
For help outside of the hospitality industry, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. And for more information and resources, see this list of helplines and listening services.