Saira Hospitality, a non-profit transforming the way hotels connect with local communities through education, and The Hotels with Heart Foundation are partnering to offer hospitality training for 20 rough sleepers whilst they are being temporarily housed inside St Giles Hotel in Bloomsbury, London.

The innovative partnership centres around a four-week hospitality school inside St Giles Hotel, who launched The Hotels with Heart Foundation in 2023 to give back to the communities sustaining the hotels. Between 8th April and 3rd May, 20 candidates will be trained on-site, enrolling in Saira Hospitality's life-skills-focused curriculum that teaches communication, leadership, emotional intelligence and other essential hospitality-focused life skills.

New research from the homeless charity Shelter shows at least 271,000 people are recorded as homeless in England, including 123,000 children. This figure means one in 208 people in England are without a home, and 2,400 people are sleeping rough on any given night.

The Academy marks another step forward for Saira Hospitality, who migrated their pop-up hospitality school concept to London in 2022 following seven years of operating in global destinations such as Namibia, Mexico, The BVI and the US. It also marks the first time that Saira has partnered directly with another non-profit organisation in the UK.

Hotels with Heart are sponsoring the entire cost of the programme via funds generated from their Regenerative Hospitality Campaign, which pledges to raise £1 million benefiting local communities. The Academy combines classroom-based learning with experiential work placements inside a group of leading hospitality employers in London, who have pledged to support the initiative with workplace mentoring and guaranteed job interviews for candidates after the programme ends.

These businesses include Z hotels, Marriott, and Accor, to name a few. Saira Hospitality and Hotels with Heart are actively looking for additional hospitality partners who wish to support The Academy, whether that's by offering work experience, job interviews or memorable experiences for candidates during the programme.

The programme also blends hospitality integration opportunities for its learners, many of whom have never stepped inside London's leading hospitality businesses. These integration experiences include a private dining experience hosted by Kerth Gumbs inside his restaurant Fenchurch at Skygarden. 

Students will also take a walking tour of Saira Hospitality's London hotel partners, visiting various properties and experiencing different styles of guest service. The Academy also utilises Saira Hospitality's global partnership with eCornell, the online learning platform of internationally renowned hotel school Cornell University, to provide certified credentials to all learners.

Saira Hospitality's partnership with Vizzy, an online CV-alternative platform, also helps learners illustrate their personalities and experiences outside of the traditional CV format. Saira Hospitality believe that the traditional CV format can be disheartening for candidates from overlooked backgrounds, who may lack typical experience or access to education.

Greg Früchtenicht, COO at Saira Hospitality, believes the partnership can be scaled up to provide maximum impact: “When reading the list of partners who are supporting this initiative, it's impossible to not be inspired by the generosity on show. From individual hospitality legends like Kerth Gumbs, to multinational hotel brands and of course St Giles Hotels, without whom this programme wouldn't be possible.

“We believe the greatest atrocities must be met with creative partnerships, and we're proud to be launching this programme, an initiative that we hope will be repeated in years to come.” Abigail Tan, CEO of St Giles UK, Europe and America, cited Saira running these academies as fundamental to their success: “At St Giles Hotels, we are committed not just to giving back, but more importantly to devote our time, passion, and resources to play our part in improving the communities and ecosystems which sustain and support our hotels and our St Giles Family.

“Tackling the challenges surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping has been at the core of our purpose, and we are immensely proud and honoured to be launching the St Giles Hospitality Academy in partnership with Saira Hospitality, to play our part in helping get people back into meaningful work and fulfilling a goal of making a positive impact on society and especially the individuals we help.”