While it may be the story dominating the news and carry huge significance for the world, you may well be asking yourself what the migrant crisis has to do with you, working in hospitality in the UK.
Well, Alastair Choat, landlord of London’s only vegetarian pub, Norman’s Coach and Horses, believes it’s got everything to do with him and indeed everyone in hospitality.
When David Cameron responded to the endless stream of people trying any means possible to make their way from Calais to the White Cliffs with a shipment of barbed wire, Alastair decided to act by launching a pop-up with a difference across the Channel. Read to the bottom for more information about how you can get involved.
“The government response was outrageous and my regulars and I decided that we should engage the great values of the British pub and try and do something positive,” says Alastair.
He posted some provocative messages on his sandwich boards outside the Soho establishment and set about putting in place a plan to give the thousands of people camped in Calais a taste of British hospitality.
“Pubs have been battered in recent years and their ability to be the centre of any community diminished. But if we can do something, and as the pub’s owner it’s easier for me, we absolutely should.”
So, Alastair, his daughter Hollie and a number of engaged regulars set about raising money to provide tasty, nutritious food to those in need. They launched a justgiving page with a target sum of £5,000. They’ve smashed that, raising more than £13,000 – a phenomenal response as Alastair says.
After a recce to Calais this week, 25 volunteers will be heading off nest Wednesday evening for four days, during which time they’ll serve 12,000 meals, hand out 1,000 goody bags, facilitate musical entertainment and show a number of films.
The camp residents can look forward to vegetable curry, lentil soup and apple crumble. Some of the pub’s suppliers have generously donated or discounted a huge amount of the ingredients and Alastair is particularly grateful to Bidvest and Suma.
How can you help? Well, Alastair is still keen to hear from anyone who could offer their services from 17-20th September – particularly chefs. And he’s looking for a large marquee. If you can help or would like to lend your support please get in touch on Pubgrub4calais@gmail.com
Pubs have always been centre of the British community, the town’s front room. Whenever someone comes in my pub whether they are an A-list celb or street cleaner, they all equal once they come through the door, because a pub is about hospitality, humanity and equality. And that’s what we hope to take to Calais.
Follow the action on @pubgrub4calais