The service is available from today and is to be financed via the €14 million ‘Raising The Bar’ recovery fund established by Guinness this Summer for pubs affected by the Covid-19 pandemic across the Island of Ireland.
It will be staffed by a team of counsellors as well as finance experts in Ireland, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. To ensure that calls continue to be answered, even out of hours, counsellors are available to take calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ensuring that contact can be made at any time and any relevant follow-up scheduled.
All contact details for the helpline are available now on www.MyDiageo.com. Over 5,000 outlets across Ireland have already received support through the Raising the Bar fund and registration remains open.
One-third of pubs in Dublin alone have been closed continuously for the last eight months now and 50% of pubs throughout Ireland were allowed to open for only three out of the last 35 weeks after enduring at least four delays to reopening over the course of the Summer as part of the most severe hospitality lockdown in Europe.
“However the true cost of this crisis cannot be measured in financial terms alone” points out Guinness, “and our partners in the pub trade have spoken openly of the heartbreak and pressure they’ve faced not only due to the stop-start nature of closures, but also the prolonged period of loneliness they’ve faced being out of work and away from the customers they interact with on a daily basis.”
These sentiments have been echoed by the general public with 78% of consumers in a recent survey concerned about the loss of jobs in their local community and 50% saying that pub closures have led to a decrease in community spirit and morale.
“During this difficult time we know that publicans and their staff are worried, anxious and in need of practical measures to help them emerge from the longest hospitality lockdown in Europe,” said Liam Reid, Corporate Relations Director at Diageo Ireland, “Guinness is committed to working with our partners in the LVA, VFI and Hospitality Ulster 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. The hospitality industry plays an essential role in the Irish economy and the impact of Covid-19 is putting a staggering 114,000 jobs at risk in the sector, equalling a massive 7.6% of Ireland’s total workforce.”
The initiative forms part of Diageo’s $100 million global programme to support pubs and bars and provide them with targeted support to ensure they can eventually re-open and welcome back customers safely.
The initiative was welcomed by LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe who stated, “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”.
And Vintners Federation of Ireland Chief Executive Padraig Cribben stated, “We firmly believe that 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. We welcome the support from our partners at Guinness who are standing by the pub trade at this incredibly difficult time”.
Since the launch of the two-year Raising the Bar scheme last June over 3,000 outlets 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, weatherproof, outdoor spaces and sponsored mandatory compliance training for over 11,000 bar-staff across Ireland.