Mercat Tours’ Contribution to the Community11th Nov 2020
We’ve always believed in serving the community that we’re members of - it’s the Deal. Naturally, any business that is passionate about showing visitors the best of our great city should be just as passionate about preserving it, right?
Ever since Des Brogan and a few of his fellow history teachers decided to fill Edinburgh’s urgent need for guided walking tours in the mid-eighties, Mercat has always placed a strong emphasis on supporting the organisations that work hard to uphold Edinburgh’s high quality of living and healthy tourist appeal.
From raising funds for local charitable organisations, to providing students with an unparalleled educational experience of the WWI battlefields, as well as being proud Living Wage Employers, Mercat Tours prides itself on being a valuable contributor to the Edinburgh community.
Here are just a few of the initiatives Mercat Tours has developed as a means to make a real difference.
Sharing the stories and lessons of WWI with Dunbar Grammar School students
Over the last 17 years, Mercat Tours International has taken thousands of students from Dunbar Grammar School to the WWI battlefields in Belgium and France, literally walking the trenches where countless brave young men fought for their countries.
Below, Dunbar Grammar School Deputy Head Ed Offer kindly acknowledges the commitment Mercat makes to providing students with a fully immersive educational experience that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
As Mr Offer puts it, “Mercat always works closely with us, and adapts to our needs. They show huge commitment to creating the very best learning experience for all and always deliver it. Students leaving DGS frequently tell us their best memory at school was the Mercat Battlefields experience. There is no greater praise.”
Helping Grassmarket Community Project assist the city’s homeless and vulnerably housed
Mercat has a longstanding friendship with the Grassmarket Community Project, which has been providing homeless people with access to various aid and helpful services since 1982 (in fact, the Grassmarket Mission, which developed this project, has been helping Edinburgh’s homeless community since the 1890’s!).
With the ongoing and long-term impact of COVID-19, the need for these kinds of partnerships between local organisations has never been more important.
Grassmarket Community Project CEO Jonny Kinross said that the charity (though successful) has been hit hard by this pandemic, yet they have always felt stronger and more resilient knowing that Mercat is here.
“Mercat co-sponsors our annual Burns supper; helping us raise over £10,000 a year, which enables us to provide 6500 free two-course healthy meals to the homeless community and people who are vulnerably housed,” Mr Kinross added.
“Mercat also provides our beneficiaries, our community, with luxurious self-catering accommodation three times a year. This gives people a much-needed break from their often stressful living situations and provides them with a supportive community wherein they can reconnect with themselves, their community and wider society.”
“Our members frequently emerge from Mercat House, Birnam near Dunkeld, renewed and able to face life’s challenges once more.”
We are a Living Wage Accredited Employer
In recognition that young people face the same living costs as everybody else, Mercat Tours is proud to be an accredited Living Wage Employer. Earning this accreditation is a voluntary step that UK businesses can take in order to demonstrate their commitment to improving the lifestyles of perhaps the most crucial component of any business – their team.
At Mercat, we recognise that no business can thrive or, in fact, even function on a basic level, without the hard work of a dedicated and passionate team. To us, paying the Scottish Living Wage is a no-brainer.
“Mercat Tours were one of the earliest hospitality employers to become an accredited Living Wage employer, and we are very proud to have them as part of our network of employers,” says Living Wage Scotland Manager Jack Evans.
“The hospitality industry in Scotland is vital and has been massively impacted by COVID-19; the industry’s recovery will require other businesses to follow the lead of Mercat Tours and put their team at the heart of their business and recovery.”
Expanding awareness of Scottish tourism careers
In addition to ensuring our team enjoys a good quality of life by paying the Living Wage, Mercat Tours is also enthusiastic about informing young people of the job opportunities that await them in the tourism sector.
This is why we shaped and lead Edinburgh’s DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) “Day in Edinburgh” programme, which offers students an insight into what it’s like to pursue a career in Scotland’s tourism industry.
“The pioneering ‘Day in Edinburgh’ programme has brought tourism and hospitality providers across the region together, to provide a meaningful, informative and inspiring experience for S2 pupils,” says DYW Edinburgh, Midlothian & East Lothian Programme Director Michelle Fenwick, adding that the programme highlights the variety and diversity of roles within tourism.
Providing assistance to Macmillan Cancer Support
It is Mercat Tours’ great pleasure to assist Macmillan Cancer Support in their tireless efforts to provide support to those affected by cancer.
We provide this assistance in a number of ways, spanning both financial and practical support for people with mental illness, neurological disorders, homelessness, rough-sleeping, people with disabilities and terminal illness.
We also volunteer our Mercat House as a tranquil retreat for support workers, so they can rest, and ‘hit the reset button’ before continuing their amazing work.