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Advice about COVID-19

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Bouncing back through and after Covid

Lisa lives with her family in PenyGraig in the Rhondda Valley; she had a ‘normal’ family life with her husband, 4 children and a steady work life, until her youngest son developed a brain tumour. Time spent by her son’s bedside while he fought his condition and multiple trips to hospital through a roller coaster of recovery and relapse put the family under immense strain. Lisa couldn’t work and after a time, also due to needing time off to be with his son, her husband too lost his job. Reduced to living on benefits caused a downward spiral for the family finances.

Eventually Lisa’s son recovered enough to go back to school, although he was not tumour free. Spurred on by her son’s determination and his belief that everything we face makes us stronger, Lisa decided the time was right to realise a long held ambition to open her own cake business. Lisa’s cake making skills have always been in demand by family and friends, so she decided the time was right to turn it into a business she could grow for her and her son’s future.

Ideal premises came up on PenyGraig High Street, however, due to the family’s recent financial struggles there was no spare money for business equipment or shop fittings. Poor credit scores meant Lisa was struggling to get financial support from anywhere. However, Purple Shoots, partly financed by Duport Associates, provided the loan required to get Cake Station open. All the cakes in the shop were handmade by Lisa and her reputation grew so she would sell out most days. A visit from a well-known Welsh chef who described her cakes as ‘the best he’s ever had’. At the time Lisa was living her dream – “My life has changed so much – I am enjoying every minute of being my own boss.”

However, during the Covid crisis Lisa was forced to close the shop and was limited to what she was able to do for the business because her son was classed as highly vulnerable. Lisa hadn’t been self-employed long enough to qualify for government help, her rateable value was too low for a business grant and as Lisa didn’t employ anyone she wasn’t eligible for a Welsh Government Resilience Fund. Unlikely to qualify for a loan Lisa had to resort to Universal Credit – but this did not cover her business costs. Even every reason to despair Lisa’s posts on Facebook were determined:

“Head in the game, there will be HUGE things to come from my shop when we re-open. Over the next few weeks while we are on lockdown I will be planning a new extending menu. Chelsea and myself are going to be doing samples at home to show you what’s to come. We are in for a ride BUT we can do this…” and another:

“I have been thinking of the way forward for Lisa’s Cake Station. My passion is higher than ever, my passion is my beautiful, loyal customers who are now friends. After learning yesterday that I am not entitled to any help via my business I need to make it work on my own. This will be a challenge BUT a challenge I will BEAT.”

Lisa launched a delivery service and was constantly posting on Facebook pictures of new cakes and recipes. However, the longer lockdown continued the worse the prospect was for Lisa’s dream business. Financial hardship for the family meant saving her business was looking less likely.

 

Lisa’s resilience is awesome, the struggle kept getting worse and she continued to get no Government help. Her landlord would not reduce the shop rent so in the end she relinquished the shop and continued with home baking and deliveries, however Lisa’s son was relapsing and this limited the amount of time she was able to spend on the business. Recognising her determination, Purple Shoots have loaned Lisa the funds to open new premises. Daffodil Tea Rooms has launched, still with Lisa’s famous cakes but also offering afternoon teas, lunches and deliveries. Lisa is overwhelmed by the community support she has received so far.