Business owner has ‘soul-destroying task’ of letting staff go in lockdown

Sara Ford of FRESH in Ely talks Covid-19 and the impact it's had on her business.

Sara Ford of FRESH in Ely talks Covid-19 and the impact it's had on her business. - Credit: Facebook/FRESH 

A devastated start-up business owner held back their tears as she revealed the impact ‘Lockdown 3’ was having on her company in an emotional video.  

Sara Ford, co-owner of FRESH fitness centre in Ely, says she had the recent “soul-destroying” task of telling her staff they won’t be receiving any Government support.  

Sara, who co-founded the business with Alice Loombe, explained her situation in a four-minute video posted to their social media accounts.  

The pair are now encouraging people to sign a petition to extend the furlough scheme to new hires after all of their staff started work in December.  

Alice Loombe and Sara Ford at the FRESH studio in Ely.

Alice Loombe and Sara Ford at the FRESH studio in Ely. - Credit: Supplied/Archant

Sara said: “The furlough guidelines mean anyone starting a job after October 30 does not qualify. 


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“Our staff were interviewed and offered jobs in October but we're not on the payroll until we were able to open in December so none of them are able to access the support from the government. 

“In a time of uncertainty and mass unemployment we were able to create and offer seven roles. 

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“Now that we've been forced to shut, these jobs have become obsolete and we are forced to lay off all of our hardworking, legendary team. 

“This means anyone in any industry that started work in November and beyond are at risk of losing their jobs and receiving nothing.” 

The video has been shared all over social media and has been ‘liked’ almost 100 times, but Sara still hopes more sign the petition which needs 10,000 signatures.  

The petition has already had 880 signatures. 

The petition has already had 880 signatures. - Credit: Online

She added: “As a start-up, we are in the unfortunate position that we have nothing to support staff. 

“Neither of us have taken our salary for six months because every last penny is put straight back into the business paying bills, contractors, teachers, staff and rent. 

“We have also reached out to the local council who have agreed to help with rallying support so any additional contact with them will be an incredible help. 

“The more people to shout about this problem the more chance we have to make a difference. And not just for our staff, but for so many people facing hardship around the country. 

“Thank you so much for your support. We appreciate anything you can do and any information you're able to share. 

“Sending you all healthy vibes and virtual high fives.” 

To sign the petition, visit: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/564785  

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