Birmingham: hospitality to health

(2020 – 2021)

“Hospitality to health” was a local employment initiative that was launched through the Birmingham Anchor Network – applying the principles of community wealth building to address the impact of Covid-19 on the Birmingham economy. 


  • Pioneer Housing Group – members of the Birmingham Anchor Network – were concerned about the number of their residents at risk of redundancy from the hospitality sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
  • Birmingham University Hospital Trust – also members of the Network – needed to recruit significant numbers of staff at entry level positions as a result of increased pressures due to Covid-19. 
  • Through the Anchor Network the members were able to identify the match in these needs and work together to develop a programme to address them jointly. 
  • The project also addressed a need on behalf of the Anchor Network, who had recognised that in order to progress its ambition of delivering employment opportunities at scale, they needed a better understanding of the potential barriers to this goal and evidence of success in overcoming those barriers. To this end, “hospitality to health” functioned as a pilot project that demonstrated the potential for future schemes to operate at scale, offering with real career opportunities to unemployed Birmingham residents. 

How it worked 

The Hospital Trust recognised that former hospitality employees may have exactly the skill set to make great NHS employees but the Trust’s employment team had little experience of recruiting from other sectors or in delivering targeted recruitment at a neighbourhood level. Similarly, Pioneer had a local employment team but little experience in helping people access careers in the NHS. The two institutions worked together in a way that combined their different strengths to successfully attract Pioneer residents onto a pre-employment course delivered locally by the Hospital Trust. 


In total, the “hospitality to health” programme received 60 enquiries from one neighbourhood, 31 residents were supported and 24 went on to access pre-employment training with the Hospital Trust. 

But, perhaps more importantly, the pilot identified many issues with the Trust’s recruitment process that were an obstacle to people wishing to switch careers into an NHS job. This included a general lack of awareness of the types of NHS career on offer (it’s not all doctors and nurses!), over complicated job descriptions, 17-page application forms and the need to demonstrate previous NHS experience. The Trust took this feedback on-board and, with the support of Birmingham & Solihull ICB, went on to launch I Can which has delivered on the principals developed by ‘Hospitality to Health’ but at a scale which means hundreds of unemployed Birmingham residents are now being helped each year. You can find out more about I Can in our case study.