My Working Life: Camilla Woods of Hospitality Action

The employee assistance programme manager talks about providing help and advice - every day

Camilla Woods
Camilla Woods

The employee assistance programme is a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year service, providing support and assistance to those working in the hospitality industry whose companies have subscribed to it. People contact us initially on a helpline, then we work with them to find a solution to problems they might be facing at home or at work.

I do the day-to-day management - that could mean anything from going out to meet potential clients and talk to them about benefits of the programme, to presenting to a new client's staff about what sort of help they can access, or to being responsible for the sales and marketing and reporting back to clients on use of the programme's services.

I am also involved in the development of the service, looking at different ways we can help people in the industry - for example, we introduced a parenting helpline after we realised that one thing people really seemed to need was advice on maintaining a work-life balance.

I also work with our grants team to see if anyone who has called the helpline might be eligible to benefit from financial help.

My favourite bit of the job is raising awareness of the charity and seeing the positive outcomes we achieve for callers to the helpline.

It's really satisfying to present to people who've never heard about Hospitality Action when I visit their companies, and then find they make use of our services and we're able to, say, help them to get a grant or gain access to counselling to deal with a personal difficulty.

The most challenging part of the job is when you look at just how vast the industry is - we have three million people working in hospitality, which makes it the fourth-largest industry in the UK. So the task is getting out to as many people as possible to let them know we're here and what support we can offer.

I'd like to get a good few hundred companies signed up so we can support even more people.

Hospitality Action is the trade charity for the hospitality industry, offering assistance to those who work or used to work in the industry and who find themselves in crisis

Camilla Woods is employee assistance programme manager at Hospitality Action.

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