Guinness pitches in for pub owners, staff and families

Guinness pitches in for pub owners, staff and families
Mark Mulholland, Diageo NI (left) is pictured with Paul O’Hare, General Manager and Director of the Duke of York in Belfast.

Guinness has announced that is setting up a new helpline for pub owners, their staff and immediate families affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The Raising the Bar Helpline will be available from tomorrow (Friday) and is being financed as part of the €14m Raising the Bar fund established by Guinness in the summer.

The helpline will be staffed by a team of counsellors and local finance experts, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. To ensure that calls continue to be answered, even out of hours, there are counsellors available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All contact details for the helpline are available now on www.MyDiageo.com

The financial impact of Covid-19 pub closures has been very significant, with wet-led pubs in Northern Ireland allowed to open for only four out of the last 35 weeks after enduring several delays to reopening over the course of the summer. With around 1,200 pubs located across NI, all were forced to close again on October 16 and will remain closed until at least November 13.

Pre Covid-19 crisis, the hospitality sectors in Northern Ireland sustained 65,435 jobs and provided £899m in wages. Hospitality Ulster research indicates that total job losses within the hospitality industry at the ‘four-week point’ since closure is in the region of 15,000, accounting for an estimated loss in wages to the Northern Irish economy of £211m.

However, the true cost of this crisis cannot be measured in financial terms alone, and many in the pub trade have spoken openly of the heartbreak and pressure they have faced not only because of the closures but also the prolonged period of loneliness that comes from being out of work and away from the customers they interact with on a daily basis.

Liam Reid, Corporate Relations Director of Diageo Ireland says that in difficult times such as these, publicans and staff will be anxious and in need of practical measures: ‘Guinness is committed to working with our partners in Hospitality Ulster,  LVA and VFI to identify key areas where we can support all those in the sector who continue to be hardest hit as an industry by the effects of the COVID-19 crisis,’ he added. ‘The hospitality industry plays an essential role in both economies and the impact of Covid-19 is putting a staggering 114,000 jobs at risk in the sector, equalling a massive 7.6 per cent of Ireland’s total workforce.’

Colin Neill of Hospitality Ulster says that publicans and their families are under ‘enormoous pressure’: ‘We have sought support from both our suppliers and government and we welcome the further invaluable, practical measures that Guinness are announcing today as part of their Raising the Bar platform,’ he added. ‘The Raising the Bar Helpline will be an invaluable resource for our members as they deal with the untold burdens being placed on them due to the disproportionate financial, mental and emotional effects that this crisis has had on those in the pub sector.’

Almost 5000 outlets across the island of Ireland have already registered and availed of supports from the Guinness Raising the Bar fund since its launch  in June 2020 including over 3000 outlets who have received reopening essentials kits, with upwards of 87,500 litres of hand sanitiser and 30,000 staff uniforms. The fund has also provided 700 outlets with items to create safe, weather-proof, outdoor spaces and sponsored mandatory compliance training for over 11,000 bar staff.

Guinness Raising the Bar is a two-year programme that has been available since June 2020 and publicans across the Island of Ireland can still register to receive supports by logging on to www.mydiageo.com. All the information on the Raising the Bar Helpline, including the phone numbers, is available via www.mydiageo.com