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New beginnings

Lorraine Dale, national chair of the UKHA has a message for our readers:

Lorraine Dale

What a difference a year makes! As a hardworking passionate housekeeper with a vested interest in the industry my heart goes out to all of our members throughout the pandemic. Once again we rose to the challenge, adapted our cleaning processes, rallied our teams and charged forward – I was so proud to be in the industry and to be a housekeeper.

This year has held different challenges to every one of us – The UKHA added extra value when we worked together to produce the Covid Secure Housekeeping Standards and then we subsequently reformatted our monthly meetings. We have held a variety of fun evenings through zoom, keeping our membership alive and on subject, engaging our associate members and enticing our housekeepers with a variety of offers and support. New beginnings are a chance to put things right and make them better. Heading back to work may feel like chaos but try not to look at it that way. You have the advantage of having taken a step back, so now approach your work with a fresh and energised perspective. Look at this as an opportunity to improve systems and processes and build an even stronger team.

We all look forward to a brighter and more exciting 2021. Stay safe and well.

Warm words and hopes for the future

Gordon McIntyre, founder of Hospitality Heath

UKHA members have joined in two highly entertaining national Zoom meetings since our last issue – each lifting spirits as well as providing a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues from the housekeeping community. The first was hosted by the UKHA Scotland region with guest Gordon McIntyre, founder trustee of charity Hospitality Health and associate dean for hospitality and tourism at City of Glasgow College. He was welcomed by Jo Simovic from Umbrella Training and Scotland UKHA Chair Jo Wilby.

Serving Scotland, the charity was launched in 2018 in response to a growing mental health ‘epidemic’, helping those in need within our industry. As McIntyre pointed out, recent times had made this even more vital, with increased levels of anxiety, debt and other issues, including substance abuse and addictions such as gambling. “It’s not limited purely to chefs, it’s not limited to front of house, it’s not limited to housekeeping. It’s across, I feel the whole sector, from general managers to area managers, owners, down to back of house.”

He spoke of the need to improve the industry’s reputation in that although ‘a family’, it was often thought of as a place for long hours and low pay and some employers still failed to recognise that staff were their greatest asset. Although the charity operates in Scotland, its website offers support signposts, self-help guides and videos accessed from around the world. They also support The Hoteliers Charter for those who make it a happier and more welcoming place to work by changing the culture within their organisation. Hospitality Health is promoting mental health first aiders across hospitality, raising funds for staff to go on two-day courses.

Peter Banks, managing director at Rudding Park Hotel

The next Zoom was hosted by UKHA Yorkshire & NE, led by chairperson Kerry Adams and deputy chair Liz Smith-Mills, welcoming Lisa Williams, executive housekeeper at The Grand, York, to the committee. Peter Banks, managing director of the award-winning Rudding Park Hotel, Harrogate, shared some amazing personal insights to how his hotel had coped during the pandemic’s first year. He spoke of the ‘creeping sense of doom’ as Covid-19 spread northwards and said that Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme had rescued his business, although it should have come three weeks earlier for many. All staff took pay cuts and eventually there were just seven redundancies.

The experience had led to positive reviews of operating practice, systems and rotas across the hotel’s departments. Banks understood that for all the PPE and safety procedures, there was a sense of nervousness in housekeeping staff in the early days, simply because so little was known about how the virus spread. He praised head housekeeper Rachael Park for her leadership.

Now, the big thing was visible cleaning. Guests who had barely acknowledged housekeeping staff in the past were delighted to see them, not the ‘Flash Harrys’ of management and front of house.

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