2020: Scarf and COVID-19 Thursday 16 July 2020 Scarf started the year (our tenth year!) with high hopes, huge goals, and big appetites. Our plans for 2020 were pretty serious - we were going to have our busiest and most impactful year yet, with 56 new trainee positions on offer, up from 40 positions per year for the past four years. We planned to run three x 10-week Seasonal 'Scarf Dinners' programs and two x Tasting Plate programs (with support from Melbourne Women's Fund and Inner North Community Foundation). We also planned a super-fun Scarf Turns 10! party to provide paid event experience to a bunch of Scarf graduates. We're so glad we ran this in February before the world turned upside down! You can check out some photos here. Oh, and of course we thought we'd be running our fifth annual fundraising dinner, Do More Than Dine, in June at Cumulus Inc with hosting from legendary Scarf ambassador Matt Preston. This obviously wasn't possible, but we were able to run a successful mid-year fundraising campaign instead. Thanks to those who donated! If you're interested, you can check out Scarf's original 2020 Operational Plan here. But alas, COVID-19 had other ideas. When our Autumn Scarf Dinners (slated to kick off at Stomping Ground Beer Hall in late March) were postponed, we began providing online training and job-readiness support to our new trainees. And we immediately started reaching out to Scarf graduates, who we knew would be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. So, we're adjusting, adapting, and dare we say it, kind of pivoting (apologies for using a buzz word! We promise we won't say unprecedented!) to ensure we can keep achieving our strategic goals, even while we're not able to run hands-on training and Scarf Dinners in Melbourne restaurants. If you're interested to know where Scarf's focus is at the moment, read on. . Since mid-March, the Scarf team* has been: staying in touch with our community of trainees and graduates and providing trauma-informed, culturally sensitive wellbeing and job-readiness support broadening our regular support to provide critical information and resources, and help trainees and graduates access rent relief, welfare payments, visa information, food packages, nutritious take-home meals, multilingual health resources and mental health support services, and providing referrals to other services when required connecting new trainees and graduates to employment opportunities at FareShare (with great success!) getting ready to run 'Tasting Plate for Women' with support from Melbourne Women's Fund launching Stay Home with Scarf, to celebrate community, culture and connection, and highlight the incredible resilience and achievements of our graduates while encouraging regular Scarf diners to support local restaurants undertaking an exciting new role as the auspice organisation for CoVid-19 Employee Assistance Directive, a not-for-profit helping feed hospitality workers who've lost their jobs during the pandemic connecting graduates with DivTal, an awesome new diversity-focused recruitment startup providing trainees, graduates and mentors with free ongoing access to 700+ videos which include training courses, lessons and mentor sessions, thanks to our partnership with Typsy sharing training and employment opportunities in industries other than hospitality helping graduates update resumes and apply for jobs, prioritising those who've lost employment due to COVID continuing to reach out to the hospitality and wider employment industries to develop and maintain relationships and create new job pathways (a key focus over the next nine months will be on establishing paid work placements for Scarf graduates in various industries thanks to a grant from Bank Australia) creating and sharing graduate Q & A/Cases Studies (like Rawan's) and continuing to advocate for fairer and more inclusive hiring practices remaining connected to the community sector, in particular with organisations supporting people from asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant backgrounds, so that we're part of a sector-wide approach to advocating for and supporting participants into meaningful employment getting our mugs on the telly thanks to an interview on tickertv's Bread and Butter . *Side note; the Scarf team is smaller than ever at the moment - it's just me (Hannah), and our Wellbeing and Job Readiness Worker Neil running the show with help from our ace long-term volunteer Mel. So we're busy! If you've read this far, you obviously like what we do! If you're keen to support Scarf in any way and help us continue supporting our trainees and graduates, please reach out - [email protected]. . Cover Image: Autumn Scarf '19 team outside The Rochey. Photo: Linsey Rendell.