After 18 months of closures and confusion, many of our favourite cafes, restaurants and pubs are feeling the pinch.

The coronavirus has had devastating consequences on our high streets, with some big names and old haunts disappearing from north-west Essex altogether.

Surviving businesses have stepped up to overcome lockdowns, a national recruitment crisis and supply chain problems.

There is good news, though. You can help to celebrate and support these small businesses!

Saturday, September 18 is National Hospitality Day - a national initiative put together by Hospitality Action, The Drinks Trust, Springboard and Licensed Trade Charity.

Saffron Walden Reporter: The hospitality industry has been impacted by restrictions, but organisations throughout the country have been helping to keep them afloatThe hospitality industry has been impacted by restrictions, but organisations throughout the country have been helping to keep them afloat (Image: Archant)

The four charities are urging customers to leave no business behind this autumn.

That includes fantastic hotels that looked after us on our summer staycation, and the family-friendly pubs that welcomed us, our brood and the family dog for drinks and Sunday lunch when restrictions lifted.

National Hospitality Day is a chance for businesses to shout out proudly about what they do, and to encourage guests to donate to the four industry charities which have been making a real difference to hospitality since the pandemic began.

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Why has National Hospitality Day been created?

National Hospitality Day organisers have described Covid-19 as a "hammer blow" to small businesses.

They said: "Restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and venues have all grappled with an existential threat this past year, as have the farmers, brewers, manufacturers and distributors that supply them.

"Despite this, operators and their suppliers have demonstrated huge resilience.

"They’ve worked tirelessly to fuel the workers in the frontline of the fight against Covid.

"They’ve kept hospital patients, care home residents and schoolchildren fed.

"Hospitality can be a challenging industry to work in. Many factors – long hours, low pay, the adrenaline of service – can conspire to raise stress levels.

"And hospitality workers are of course prone to all the challenges – physical, mental, financial – that affect the human condition.”

Chef Tom Kerridge said: “All our biggest moments go on in hospitality venues, from first dates to weddings, and baby showers to wakes, they’re where the moments that make life worth living take place.

"That morning chat with your friendly barista, a cheeky pint after work with mates, Saturday morning soaks in a hotel pool, or Sunday roast with the family.

"We all took these experiences for granted.

"National Hospitality Day is a chance for customers to say 'welcome back, we’ve missed you - and thanks for everything you’ve been doing' to their favourite venues.

"Restaurants, pubs and hotels up and down the country will be pulling out the stops to give customers a great day out, on September 18 - are you in?"

Saffron Walden Reporter: Businesses are back in action in Great Dunmow, but they still need your supportBusinesses are back in action in Great Dunmow, but they still need your support (Image: Saffron Photo 2021)

How does the day work?

Customers - Pick up your phone and book a table at your favourite bar, bistro or brasserie for September 18.

Tell all your friends and create a chain of action, and don't let your love for hospitality end with the summer.

If you can't get out and about, consider donating to one of the four charities supporting our hospitality industry this year on the National Hospitality Day website:

Businesses - National Hospitality Day has a raft of promotional material to promote September 18 - from banners to beer mats, including that vital QR code, enabling guests to give what they can.

Organisers suggest bringing dance or live music into your venue, or pub quizzes, a Q&A with a local celebrity... Could your chef come up with a special, one-time-only NHD dish?

The National Hospitality Day charities

1. Hospitality Action

For more than 180 years Hospitality Action has been there for chefs, waiters, housekeepers, managers, receptionists, porters - anyone and everyone working in the sector.

It's very often a first port of call for these people when times are hard, supporting them with everything from physical illness and mental health issues, to financial difficulties and addiction.

In 2020 the charity spent £1.36m and awarded 4,698 grants – a 106% increase in households supported.

It evolved its Employee Assistance Programme, providing counselling and advice, reaching an incredible 150,000 people in 2020.

It took more than 6,000 calls through its helpline (compared to 500 in 2019).

Additionally, during the period of lockdowns, Hospitality Action put more focus on its Golden Friends scheme, to help keep loneliness and isolation at bay for industry retirees.

To donate, visit:

2. Springboard

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, hospitality (especially in rural areas) was struggling to meet its staffing needs.

Today, recruitment has become an even bigger problem.

Even renowned restaurateurs such as Raymond Blanc are worried about how they’re going to serve their customers in the future.

And charity Springboard is going to be intrinsic in the rebuilding of this sector.

Springboard promotes the industry (alongside leisure and tourism) as a great place to work, through award-winning programmes in education settings.

The charity nurtures young people into careers by giving them the knowledge, skills and guidance they need, and provides tailored support and aftercare to ensure a job in all three of these areas is sustainable.

To donate, visit:

3. Licensed Trade Charity (LTC)

The LTC is a lifeline for those working in hospitality, offering practical services and points of contact that can make a real impact.

These include guidance and emotional support with trained counsellors, financial grants for anything from utility bills to decorating costs and disability aids, short-term hardship payments, respite breaks for carers, education grants, and telephone friendship.

To donate, visit:

4. The Drinks Trust

Formerly known as The Benevolent, The Drinks Trust has supported those working in the drinks industry since 1886, providing holistic advice and care that enables people to thrive and succeed in their profession.

Services range from a 24/7 wellbeing and support helpline, to talking and sleep therapies, and a partnership with The Burnt Chef, with access to 30 cognitive behavioural therapy courses, mediation, legal advice, life and career coaching, financial advice and more.

To donate, visit: