Hospitality duo, Anna Sebastian and Sam Ayling, in partnership with No.3 London Dry Gin and Seedlip, has launched Skywalker – a fundraising cocktail initiative that aims to raise awareness of the growing number of people sleeping rough in London as a result of COVID-19, with many newly homeless people in the capital having recently been hospitality workers.
The Distressing Reality
COVID-19 has been disastrous for the hospitality industry in the UK. Whilst some bars and restaurants that have been able to rise to the many new challenges and organise local deliveries of pre-batched cocktails and meal kits, most have not had the chance. This has resulted in the permanent closure of numerous independent venues, the furloughing of 80% of the hospitality workforce and the estimated loss of 68% of jobs within the food, drink and hotel sectors.
With workplaces closed for the foreseeable future or only able to operate a very reduced service, a huge surge of unemployment and jobs at risk (estimated at 7.6 million), and many zero-hour-contract workers and overseas professionals falling through the gaps in the government’s grant schemes, homelessness has spiked. Coupled with the government’s premature eviction of homeless people from emergency accommodation and hotels, the result is not ours being “the generation that ends rough sleeping” as Sadiq Khan had hoped, but rather a worrying vision of rough sleepers returning in increasing droves to the streets.
Here to Help
There has been a number of phenomenal grass-roots organisations that have been tirelessly striving to feed those who have remained sleeping on stoops throughout lockdown and beyond. One such is Under One Sky – a non-profit organisation providing food each day to those living on the streets in central London. It was here that the furloughed duo of Artesian’s much-loved bar manager, Anna Sebastian, and Metropolitan Pub GM Sam Ayling, began volunteering. Moved by the dramatic rise in ex-hospitality workers they encountered whilst out, the friends decided to put their skills to good use to help those in need and raise awareness of the reality of homelessness within their industry.
The result? A range of pre-mixed cocktails using No.3 London Dry Gin and Seedlip that sees 100% of proceeds donated to Under One Sky, to support its ongoing work and outreach. Alongside offering essential supplies, Under One Sky’s mission is to meet homeless people with a spirit of compassion, and a genuine desire to connect and create a feeling of belonging in our world today. The organisation has served over 20,000 meals in Central London since starting emergency efforts on 2nd April.
Of the fundraising initiative, Anna says,
“Over the last couple of months, we noticed more and more new faces on our walks each day. Many of those we met were hospitality workers who had lost their jobs via redundancy, not been put onto furlough and subsequently unable to afford rent. With no real support network, many found themselves on the streets. We wanted to use our platform and experience in hospitality to help our homeless friends and shine a light on the under-reported current situation – showing that this is a close reality for us all.”
The “Skywalker” Cocktails
The name Skywalker is a nod to the volunteers at Under One Sky, whilst the cocktails themselves are named after two of its founding principles. Skywalker Love features No.3 Gin, Lustau Blanco Vermut, Monin Pineapple & Mint Syrup, Suze and citric acid, whilst the non-alcoholic version, Skywalker Compassion, includes Seedlip Spice and Æcorn Dry. The fruity and accessible flavours create perfect easy-to-drink options when poured over ice.
Mikkel Juel Iversen, Founder of Under One Sky adds,
“We are delighted that Anna and Sam felt called to create and launch this initiative, using their talents to honour our homeless friends. We’re proud to have them as members of the Under One Sky family.”
Buy the Cocktails
Skywalker Love and Skywalker Compassion come in single serve 110ml pouches and are available to purchase online at skywalkercocktail.co.uk for £10 including P&P, with 100% of proceeds donated to Under One Sky.
Want to help more?
Visit www.underonesky.cc to donate or volunteer.
To learn about other noteworthy pandemic-support initiatives by the hospitality sector, check out our articles: