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  3. Recently, I had a notification from Linkedin telling me that’s someone wished to be included in my professional network, nothing new it happens every day. As you process that notification a panel appears that allows you to connect with likeminded professional’s and as being a chef, the algorithm’s set be Linkedin give me a huge selection, hundreds if not thousands of other chefs, and so you begin to connect with those you wish in your network. I tend to pick professionals who are clearly in the UK,and who I can then share and spread the word about our amazing Union.After picking about 20-
  4. On the eve of an historical meeting between representatives of the industry and Government officials, it is good for everyone to know just exactly why we need our own Hospitality Minister and just why we seek to get closer access to the corridors of power. Much has been said but we think it is time to set out just what we aim to achieve when we do get our own Ministerial Official. Ministers work between Government and the elected bodies and representatives of an industry. They consult and formulate and implement plans and legislation on behalf of that industry, liaise with and consult with
  5. Scottish and International Masterchef Shona Sutherland talks about sexism in our industry and just how important it can be that male chefs nurture and support talent of both sexes. Firstly, I want to stress that while dominance, bullying, harassment, sexism, intimidation and abuse I know is not confined to being directed only at women by men and can affect and be instigated by all demographic groups, since I am a chef and a female, I speak from this perspective. We can’t deny that it is an issue that still blights workplace mental and physical health, motivation, performance, passion, emp
  6. Some reading this will be wondering just why we need to push this subject so hard, after all aren’t there supposed to be equality laws in place? That’s true, there are, however much of that legislation is still governed and policed by men, and mostly men who have been brought up in a sexist environment which often effects their passive view attitude to women in kitchens. I too, was brought up in this macho, male dominated atmosphere, although I was grateful that my main teachers in cookery were all women and I benefited from their wisdom and care. Those early years working with women
  7. Hospitality Action was established in 1837 and has since offered vital assistance to all who work, or have worked within hospitality in the UK and are the largest UK Hospitality Charity. They are there for the chefs, waiters, housekeepers and managers. They are there for the concierges, receptionists and kitchen porters. And they are there for every sommelier, bartender, catering assistant and cook across the UK. Whether you work in hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars or cafes, schools, hospitals or event venues, They are there to give you the help, advice and support you need whenever t
  8. Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. We've already reached millions of people and begun to improve attitudes and behaviour. In 2018 Unichef took the Pledge to support TTC and became the first Union in the UK to actively support Mental Health in the work place. Read all about the way TTC is changing the way we all thing about MHI Click Here To Visit Website
  9. Shout is a 24/7 UK crisis text service available for times when people feel they need immediate support. By texting ‘SHOUT’ to ‘85258’ a Texter will be put in touch with a trained Crisis Volunteer (CV) who will chat to them using trained techniques via text. The service is designed to help individuals to think more clearly and to take their next steps to feeling better. Shout was publicly launched in May 2019, after a year long pilot phase. It is based on the successful US model Crisis Text Line. Shout is part of Mental Health innovations (MHI), which was founded in November 2017. MH
  10. Brian

    Mind

    MIND are the foremost Mental Health Charity in Britain.They provide free support and care for thousands of people experiencing all forms of Mental Health. They campaign to improve services,raise awareness and promote understanding.For more than 70 years MIND have been committed to making sure that everyone experiencing MHI has the support and care they need. Now Mind has teamed up with National Chefs Union in supporting chefs across the UK.You can find out all about MIND and the fantastic work the do... Click Here To Visit Website
  11. How would you like your lifestyle to look? Now could be your time to think about it. During the days I was working every hour in the day all I could think about was what I could do if only I had more time. I would read novels, go out to dinner with my friends, go for a pint with a mate, start cycling etc etc etc. Ring any bells? So, now we are in strange times and you have been handed on a plate that time you craved, but… you have huge restrictions as to how you can use it?! For example, looking back at my list, the novels are all I could really start doing. However, th
  12. The topic of nutrition, the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for growth, is a contentious one but the old mantra of 'you are what you eat' does still hold some wisdom. Our food nourishes our body and brain, so the quality and quantity of what we eat matters. Needless to say, everyone's diet has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with food shortages and delivery delays, an over-reliance on take-aways, and boredom eating habits setting in. What we eat directly affects the bacteria in our gut, and our gut relays signals to our brain. This directly affects our hormone
  13. How is your balance? April 2020. What a time to write about Work/Life balance. The kitchens are closed. We are at home. We are out of balance. Balance to me is the most important concept to consider when trying to improve wellbeing. It's human nature to require balance. Traditionally bad balance. Before these unprecedented times we all at one time or another experienced a lifestyle out of balance the other way. Not all of us, I have read remarkable stories about kitchens that are finding ways to find better work/life balance, but it is still the case across the world th
  14. Brian of The National Chefs Union asked me to talk about the ongoing risk of depression in the kitchen. I drafted articles about the state of the industry and how it compares to what I wrote about mental health in the kitchen in 2017 but then realised that what was going on in my own head was very different. The uncertainty of the future. It made me wonder if this is what is going through anyone else’s mind? There is a real uncertainly in our future and that’s what I want to talk about. How do we manage that in term of our mental health? In the present we can only be our best se
  15. What the hell does that mean? How do I write this inclusively of all? I’m not sure I can. I’m writing it as me. An approaching Middle-Aged man who has been a chef and now a yoga teacher. I’ve never been overly physically strong; I’ve suffered mental health issues and I’ve run a marathon and I love a nice hot bubble bath. Am I manly? Am a masculine? I’ve had days when be felt really unmanly, girly, feminine, to then voice that to someone and hear them respond with “but I see you as very manly”, not “it’s ok to not be manly you know” which was what I expected. Why does it eve
  16. Living with those thoughts.... I, like many others, have truly little to be unhappy about. I am truly fortunate and lucky to have an amazing group of supportive family and friends, I know many don't, and this only adds to my feeling of helplessness and despair. My anger is sometimes uncontrollable, I lose control and so far fortunately for me, I have an amazing wife who keeps me in check. For how long I don't know, what I do know is it can't continue, I feel like a dog who should be put out of its misery, it would be the kindest thing to do. Being honest like this is somewhat of a relief
  17. Emotional and physical wellbeing? What is it? Ok, so what is this golden question, which has so many answers? A quick search online will undoubtedly, give you many results, teetering on a million, but not all those answers are easy to find, amongst the conflicting advice, there is a lack of compassion and everything can seem so sterile, impersonal, and redundant when it doesn't fit "YOU"! That's right, I said "YOU"! Everyone has their own issues, and for whatever reason, we don't always fit one particular mold, and for one, I think that's fantastic as it shows us that we are all indi
  18. Wellbeing could mean safety. It could mean calm. It could mean community. It could be internal to you. It could be in the environment. In my first post I wanted to put that thought out there and to talk about what it means to me and what its meant to me in the past. When do you feel well? For me, in the kitchen, a feeling of wellbeing is there when I feel like I am being my best self. When I feel safe in myself and safe in the environment that I am in. For some I know it is in the midst of service. When adrenaline is flowing and they feel part of the team. The brigade.
  19. When I say your voice, I mean a lot more than the words you say. Your voice is your connection to your true self. A term I really like. That state where you are being true to yourself at its core and you are not being directed by external stresses. Yoga philosophy sees our voice being affected by the fifth chakra. The throat chakra, the Vishuddha. A blue energy. We are looking to have each chakra in balance. In particular to us chefs I am interested in how this means we communicate. Balancing your voice Deficient- timid, not sticking up for yourself, leads to be being wa
  20. For #mentalhealthawarenessweek this year I’m thinking about Yoga and how my yoga practice has helped me bring awareness to my own mental health. So, a bit of a spin but stay with me. I believe that I can use my yoga practice to bring awareness to my own mental health. For example, I may feel anxious as I practice certain poses or get angry and frustrated during poses I struggle with on certain days but on others could feel calm with the difficulty. Some more examples: If you can’t sit quietly in meditation, then perhaps your mind is racing during day-to-day life at th
  21. How can yoga help wellbeing? Yoga is a science which came from India and is a union of the body, mind, and true self. A Holistic approach to wellbeing from how we behave, breathe, move and be still. “Yoga is a search of the self, based on an inner practice and detachment”- Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre Physically stretching the body. Asana practice can help balance posture issues that cause neck and back pain as well as ease the pain of repetitive actions and helps the effects of being on your feet for long hours. Simply great physical exercise for strength, mobilit
  22. Let’s face it, the way we feed our kids at school is nothing short of a national disgrace! My work with local schools has brought me into daily contact and I have been traumatised by the poor standard of cooking and the planning of school meals.Food has often become a revenue earner in many schools and food is often created that is a “seller” regardless of it lack of nutrition. Hi Carb and hi sugar is the order of the day with many children now reaching their recommended intakes by early morning. Pizza, cheese on toast, cakes paninis, cakes, sticky buns, all on sale by 11.00am.
  23. Announcing our new initiative for 2020, the Unichef Food4kids programme. This programme will study how Children in UK schools are currently being fed and how we can bring together experts in all fields to bring about the changes in the overconsumption of Carbohydrates and Sugar. The programme will involve itself in how school meals are often very poorly designed and constructed, from the menu and recipe design through to costings and searching for cost-effective replacements for many of the favourite "fill up "foods that kids crave for. Food4kids will work closely with schools and co
  24. For the last 3 years Unichef has been quietly working away at a subject that affects every chef in the UK. It's something that most are not even aware of and some even question its existence, yet Heat Stress is now a major topic of discussion and is now being recognised as a serious workplace issue. For too many years chefs had had to endure the heat and pressures that modern kitchens create believing that this was normal and that there was little answer to the problem, we just “suck it up “ To look at the causes we need to go back to when UK kitchens were not as they are now. A t
  25. During a lecture for my degree in addictions therapy the tutor said that there were certain professions that have a higher rate of addiction than others, chefs were mentioned as one of those. No surprise then that in a class of twelve students, two of us had been chefs for over 20 years and had our own past substance misuse issues. Following that, during my experience working in residential rehabs I noticed quite a few clients were or had been chefs in the past. This got me thinking, I knew why I used to drink when I was a private chef, the pressure, the control, performance anxiety and n
  26. For too many years now our Industry has been plagued by the crazy notion that some sort of recreational drug or liquid crutch will get chefs “through the day” and that they “need” those items in place to be the chef that they are or want to become ?? Yet repeatedly our Union sees the massive result in the scrapheap of chefs who thought that drugs, alcohol and even Caffeine drinks were the answer to their pressures and workload. There are so many that contact us who “used” to be a chef, with the same story. We even encounter Ex-offenders who once again tell us how the pressures of the jo
  27. Almost since the very early days of our Union, have we been warning of that the days of chefs being able to dominate, bully, harass and do as they please were numbered. Few have heard of the term, Vicarious Liability, but along with chefs now having to be Pharmacists, Scientists and Mathematicians, you will now need to be Lawyers and be very much aware of the pitfalls of this often used but seldom explained rule of law. Vicarious Liability is one of the two Laws of Civil Liability. The other, Direct Liability, is more often understood by chefs who understand that employers could be sued
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