Beds and Bars launches a COVID-19 relief scheme offering its employees a place to live
02 Apr 2020
When the pandemic hit and businesses had to shut up shop for the foreseeable future, Beds and Bars’ directors immediately developed the LifeHouse scheme to ensure every team member felt safe & supported through the different stages of the pandemic.
Back in March 2020, Covid-19 hit the travel and hospitality industry at full force, with very little warning as to the severity and length of the crisis. Not only was the outlook devastating for the sector as a whole, but its effect was similarly stressful for the individual employees who came from abroad seeking an unforgettable experience of working within the vibrant industry.
At Beds and Bars, we have around 800 team members of over 50 nationalities who make up the heart and soul of the company’s brands: St Christopher’s Inns, Belushi’s, the Flying Pig and the Bauhaus. A significant proportion of these incredible young people will have flown all the way over from Australia and New Zealand to experience working for our hostels and bars while fully immersing themselves in European culture.
When the business had no choice but to shut up shop for the foreseeable future, it left many of our team members in a confusing and unpredictable position with the chances of returning to their home countries growing slim, and their financial situations uncertain.
Immediately, directors at Beds and Bars made it the highest priority to ensure team members felt safe and supported as we moved through the different stages of the pandemic, leading to the development of the LifeHouse scheme.
WHAT IS LIFEHOUSE?
The LifeHouse scheme was developed to offer team members across the company a place to live in our hostels throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic, until we were able to return to some kind of stability and normality. With nearly 95% of employees on local government furlough schemes, and the majority paying rent in a city away from home, we wanted to ensure that, at the very least, they felt financially secure throughout the whirlwind that was 2020.
While the scheme was set up with the initial intention of providing a safe, comfortable place for team members to stay, it also came with the added bonus of bringing a sense of community during a really tough time for everyone. This added a significant level of emotional support to individuals who otherwise might have suffered significantly far away from personal support structures.
Team members across the company took up the offer to move into a St Christopher’s Inns hostel to save money, live with their work friends or get away from shared accommodation during lockdown. While the properties were closed to the public, all of our hostels were available for the LifeHouse scheme, so each individual was given the choice as to which one they wanted to stay in.
Daily dinners and the shared unusual circumstances contributed to the majority of these team members reflecting on Europe’s lockdowns in an incredibly positive light, mitigating what could have been devastatingly difficult circumstances for many individuals, and for some, actually proving to be hugely positive, formative experiences.
The community spirit and positive attitudes of our team members throughout a year like 2020 has been inspiring.
WHAT DID OUR TEAM MEMBERS THINK?
Carlotta, Hostel Receptionist at St Christopher’s Inns Greenwich, is from Italy. She has stayed in the Greenwich hostel over the last 11 months with seven other team members.
“I don’t know where I could have gone if there hadn’t been the scheme. Probably back to Italy at the risk of losing my job. But this was absolutely the best way to get through this unprecedented situation, and the rent costing us each the bare minimum meant we were actually able to live and thrive during this time.
“I must say that Hamish (General Manager at Greenwich) took care of us all over the 11 months. He cooked for everyone very often and has been there as a reliable figure for each one of us. Absolutely well-deserved shoutout to him.
“He also organised group barbecues, movie nights at Belushi’s, quiz nights etc.
“Living in a pandemic is not easy, but if you get to spend it with a beautiful group of people then you’re one of the lucky ones. I definitely am.”
Quentin, Hostel Manager at St Christopher’s at the Inn in London Bridge, is from France. He stayed at the Inn and St Christopher’s Inns Newquay throughout the pandemic.
“I initially applied for the scheme to stay at the Inn where I would normally work. Then, in the summer, I was called to work at our Newquay bar and hostel.
“I’ve been really happy with the scheme over the past year. I was able to use the site kitchens, and was given my own room alongside some of my coworkers so we could all spend the lockdowns together rather than alone. It really helped take away some worries for a lot of people.
“Over the three lockdowns I’ve turned vegan, learned how to play poker through the Beds and Bars poker club, and surfed a lot down in Newquay with some of the guys there.”
Raegan, Hostel Receptionist at St Christopher’s Inns Berlin Alexanderplatz, is from New Zealand. He stayed in the apartment at our Alexanderplatz site with one other team member.
“Over the past year, many landlords in Berlin were using the Coronavirus to their advantage by preying on people who were in desperate need of accommodation and putting their prices up by a lot.
“The LifeHouse scheme really helped me as I was in between flats at the time, so would have had to pay that premium price for a place on my own. Living in the apartment at Alexanderplatz with my colleague Jess was the best thing that could’ve happened.”