‘Pub work can take a toll on you’: The Star by Hackney Downs worker set to be trained in mental health first aid

Lucia Reyes-Woodward f

Lucia Reyes-Woodward f - Credit: Lucia Reyes-Woodward

A pub worker from The Star by Hackney Downs will be trained in mental health first aid in a London-wide project.

Lucia Reyes-Woodward from the pub in Queensdown Road, Lower Clapton, is one of seven people who has signed up to the Compass Project, which will see her attending a two-day course to learn how to spot the signs of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, and drug and alcohol misuse, and how to support someone going through a mental health crisis.

Her fellow pub worker David Paulin came up with the idea, and he's set out to recruit 16 people from all over the capital to join him on the course run by Kellys Cause Foundation. The charity was founded by chef Tobie-Anna Durk to promote the mental health of employees in the hospitality industry, after her colleague took her own life.

"Mental health is prevalent for everyone, and sometimes you have people coming in to the pub seeking help, and the help they've found is alcohol," said David.

"You find yourself taking on the role of counsellor at certain times, so I thought 'Why not train people up in some way'.

"Also the pub industry itself is a stressful and demanding job with long hours, but there is no support for mental health so I thought I'd try to change that."

David has visited pubs all over London to search for 16 people to take part, but it has been harder than he imagined.

Most Read

"In theory we are progressive in the way we think of our mental health, but not in terms of creating practical solutions to the mental health crisis," he said.

Lucia was immediately up for joining in when he approached her however.

"Maybe because I already feel I am doing this role and to be trained on it would be amazing," she said.

"Especially working in bars and pubs, you can be treated badly from customers as they drink more, becoming more demanding and using manners less, and it can take a toll on you personally."

She added: "This training will be great for the staff members but I think it could also help with the conversations with customers. Working in a pub, or any alcohol filled place is bound to bring in people on their bad days."

Half the project's target of £1,000 has already been raised, and David hopes to secure the rest at a fund raising night on January 26 at the Queens Arms in Walthamstow where he works.