Island Quarter puts spotlight on mental health with new HR appointment

Emma Pearson

An experienced HR professional has been appointed to develop the recruitment and retention strategy for Nottingham’s £1.5bn Island Quarter regeneration scheme – with emphasis set to be placed on hospitality workers’ mental health.

Emma Pearson will join the Island Quarter as it looks to bring in more than 80 staff to work across its two new venues, Binks Yard and Cleaver and Wake.

Pearson, who began her career at Whitbread before moving to Wildwood restaurants, says her experience as a mental health first aider will inform The Island Quarter’s approach to staff wellbeing.

She said: “Coming in at such a pivotal point in the project – with the two new venues opening later this summer – I’ve been blessed with the chance to take initiative and really shape our HR policy, creating amazing opportunities for new staff.

“Coming from a hospitality background, I know how important it is to offer staff benefits that bring real value to their overall wellbeing, as well as perks that are bespoke to our employees. Mental health is so important in the fast-paced restaurant environment, so we’ll be working hard to ensure that everyone feels supported, with someone to talk to about issues in their personal or professional life.”

The scheme’s second phase, which will see site owner Conygar move forward with plans to build two hotels, a co-working space, 247 build to rent apartments and an “extensive” food and beverage offering, was given the green light earlier this year.

Pearson added: “This is such an exciting time for Nottingham, with so many new jobs being created at every phase of the development. Restaurant staff will be mentored by award-winning chef Laurence Henry and have the opportunity to work closely with him so we might even create some future Masterchef winners in our kitchens.

“As more phases open, there will be opportunities for staff to develop and diversify, working in different areas of the scheme, like the new hotel.”

Bistrot Pierre co-founder John Whitehead was recently appointed food, beverage, and events project director for the huge mixed-use scheme.

He said: “Emma’s experience encapsulates both HR and operations, rooted in a deep understanding of the hospitality industry, so we’re suitably excited to have her on the team.

“We’ve already filled many of the roles in the venues with amazing staff and Emma’s expertise will help us continue to attract and retain incredible talent from across the East Midlands. After the huge hit that hospitality has taken over the past two years, we’re incredibly proud to be creating new jobs and offering meaningful benefits to staff.”