Charity work can help hospitality workers personally and professionally - interview with Bob Cotton OBE

Guest editor Bob Cotton OBE believes that hospitality workers can enhance their personal development, and therefore the business, by getting involved in projects outside work - and in some cases outside the industry.

Here, Tom Vaughan, Chris Druce and Joanna Wood profile an industry professional who has given up his time to help a Trade charity.  

Founded in the 1940s, the PM Trust was originally called the PM Club and offered a place for employees working split shifts in hotels and restaurants to meet and relax in the afternoon (hence PM). The club began, over time, to offer residential accommodation as well as career guidance to young members of the hospitality industry. Although the club closed in 2002, its objectives live on in the newly formed charity, the PM Trust, which aims to assist young people embarking on a career in hospitality by providing financial assistance for college fees and equipment.

Bob Cotton answers some questions on his support of the charity.

Why are you involved with the PM Trust? There's nothing more important than encouraging young people to gain qualifications in the industry. The help that we can give can tip the balance between someone taking a course and someone not taking a course.

Who does it help? Is it targeted at specific individuals? We help both individuals and colleges - but only in the London area, as the PM Club was originally a London-based organisation. Our main purpose is to help students who need assistance in buying knives, books and uniform. These can be quite expensive, so the funding we provide can be really useful. Students need to apply to us - preferably via their college. I wish colleges in the London area were more aware of our existence. Last year we held an event for the colleges. We invited 30, 22 accepted and only three turned up, which is strange when we have money we can distribute to their students. At the moment, we're helping students at Thames Valley University, Westminster Kingsway, the College of North West London and Lakefield in Hampstead - a kind of hostel training school. We also give bursaries. At the moment, we're helping students through a BA honours course in hospitality management at Thames Valley University. We're paying their fees. It's a very simple process. Applicants omega replica watcheshave to make a submission and the trustees take up references and make all the necessary checks. We've got six trustees, under the chairmanship of Douglas Oram, who are all very knowledgeable about the hospitality industry.

Is there enough emphasis put on helping people get on the first rung of the ladder in the hospitality industry? The emphasis should be on helping youngsters to complete their training, which would enable them to climb the ladder quicker. That's what we aim to do.

What deters young people from hospitality, and do you think the PM Trust can help solve some of these issues? There are plenty of reasons why young people are deterred, but there shouldn't be, because the industry offers the most fantastic opportunities. The trust can help them to get good qualifications, which is the key to success.

How does the charity operate? How is it funded? Hospitality Action sold the freehold of the PM Club buildings in Eccleston Square in 2002 and all our income is derived from the endowment on the moneys invested. We've given away about £100,000 since then - about £20,000 a year.

It's quite a newly formed charity, what does the future hold for it? The real challenge is that the demands on its funds will eventually rise faster than the income that is being generated. Without raising more money we will have to cap expenditure, though we haven't got to that stage yet.

How can others get involved and help? By colleges getting to know what the PM Trust is all about and by helping to raise money. Also through donations, through bvlgari replica watchesbequests. It's such a huge industry - I'm sure there are many more people who would like to help youngsters coming into hospitality. They can help them through the trust. After all, these young people are our future.

Anyone who wants to help - or who wants more information on the trust and what it can do - should  

Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper