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This is a letter sent with love

On Wednesday I was listed in the top 100 women in Hospitality in Scotland. Voted by industry peers it meant even more to be included with so many inspiring and passionate people. So when you get something unexpected I always think it’s good to give something unexpected back.

This is a letter sent with love.

A letter to anyone struggling and confused with the situation they find themselves in. It’s a letter to all my team and colleagues in hospitality, who in my opinion, are in the most unfair Covid storm. It’s also a letter for anyone who is just too overwhelmed with life.

Mental health has different meanings for all of us. For me it’s never far away. I carry it from time to time. As I get older the weight has become lighter. At the moment when it could be the greatest of my life I’ve learned how to manage it.

Restaurants rely on night time dining and alcohol sales to make them function. Remove both of these elements and some will cease to exist. The Scottish Cafe has had a little renaissance due to the restrictions placed on our sector. We’ve found new friends and I hope we’ll continue to see you all. We’ll be opening back at George Street on Monday. We’ll be adding a few new tweaks to try and make a 10am to 6pm day sustainable. Contini Shop UK is live from Monday 2nd November. We have no time to stop. We can’t. We won’t.

Doing what fellow chef/restaurateurs, entrepreneurs for want of a better word, do takes courage and risk. It’s a personal journey. Financially and emotionally. Add the thought of any bad review, has left many of us at the edge. Most have no idea how personal a journey it is. Ari said Mummy I always thought your life was stressful but this takes this biscuit. Out of the mouths of babes!

Our journey since March has been a personal test beyond measure. Having to close The Scottish Cafe yesterday because there was no access due to high winds was heartbreaking, you really can’t make it up! The next months will test us further than we feared. Everyone has a line that can’t be crossed. The financial pressures will present a line for many that will be the end of the road. The mental pressures heading to that point and reaching that point for some may be an even harder road that any have ever had to travel.

These weekly letters have been my salvation in articulating and sharing the turmoil our sector has found ourselves in. I still see a road ahead. It’s bumpy. It will leave us shaken and a little stirred. I hope in your worlds you can see a path too.

For my mental health, being able to share these feelings has kept me mentally safe. Thank you most sincerely.

Writing has been a healing tool for me for years. How I express myself in written words is often more balanced and considered than how I come across in person. I get to apply a filter in text that I don’t in my black and white full on life. A filter is a very good tool!

The fear of letting people down, of not being able to help, of not being good enough, is the anxiety many feel during normal life. I’m the youngest of eight from an immigrant Catholic family, and a girl. My interpretation may be unique but I imagine these are challenges life brings for all of us who are passionate, who care and want to do their best. This anxiety, under Covid, is amplified. Talking about any problem is part of the solution. Whether it’s a conversation with friends, family, suppliers, landlords, banks, team, customers. These conversations are vital for business but for you as a person who are you talking too, who are you sharing your journey with?

Victor is my hero. He’s my safe harbour in stormy waters. My children are the lighthouse that never lets me forget where I need to be. We take one day at a time. We’re creative. That’s what we’re good at. If it doesn’t work. We do something else. Tweak. I hope (that word again) all us honest hard working people who have had good strong businesses with loyal customers will find that business safe harbour.

The government can’t devolve this pain we are carrying. It has to reach their consciousness at some point.

Our team has access to an Employee Assistance Programme through Hospitality Action. Emma in HR is also a mental health first aider. Help is often not far away but wherever you are on the ladder some just find it too hard to ask when mental support is needed.

Andy MacCarthur is a pal. His company is called Beautiful Mind www.andymacarthur.com
He’s helped dozens of people I know and love from all walks of life. He listens. I’ve only had to speak to him professionally twice when I’ve been at a point that has been too low for me to function. It was a couple of years ago but I know where he is and a text will be answered in seconds. If you need someone to talk to. Someone to share, don’t leave it too long. There will be an answer. There will be solutions.

I’m sharing this in a support space for anyone who may need it. The door is open if anyone needs help from us. I’m here because of the wonderful people in my life. As Nonna G says. “This will pass.”

Thank you for keeping my mental health in good health throughout this time. I so very much appreciate it. I hope all of you are as strong, particularly all those in hospitality who are top in my list and there are many many more than 100!

Keep well and keep safe.

With love.


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