Priyanka Mehta & Rupanjana Dutta Tuesday 21st July 2020 15:23 EDT
Paid employment in Britain has plunged by almost 650,000 employees since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, official figures show, as growing numbers of companies cut jobs. According to the Office for National Statistics the number of payroll employees fell by 2.2%, or 649,000, from March to June. And Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in the UK economically as well.
The latest annual report by the Social Metrics Commission found that BAME families as a whole were between two and three times as likely to be in persistent poverty than white households. While research from University of Essex has pointed that 31% of BAME workers who have experienced a drop in their working hours have been furloughed. More than 20% have lost their jobs.
Tajinder Dhillon-Kochar used to work as a Travel Manager at Sirio UK. She lost her job due to the impact of coronavirus on the travel industry and ever since has been actively looking for employment across industries on LinkedIn. Tajinder is not the only woman. Rachana Vitankar also completed her stint as a Senior Business Analyst at Virgin Media in March. BAME workers make a disproportionately large number of staff in locked-down industries such as travel and hospitality. Sectors that have been shut have 15% BAME workers- 3% higher than in other sectors. However, it said the rate of decline in employment slowed in June compared with May. While no one knows when this doom and gloom will end, there are companies that are creating jobs, as demands in certain industries surge. Many have come forward to feed the needy as well as create jobs.
In her 50s now, Raj Kumari-Byford founded 1TCA (One Thought Changes All), on the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic felt a moral obligation to help feed the thousands of vulnerable residents who were struggling to cope. Within 100 days she had fed thousands of families and set about to provide families with affordable, sustainable protective masks and snoods.
Feeding the vulnerable
With roots in Punjab, Raj from Wolverhampton, was born and raised in the UK. Speaking to Asian Voice exclusively, she said, “For the past 16 years, I’ve been a mum. I have 2 children, my son is 15 and is my biological child, and my daughter is 4 and we adopted her from Ethiopia. Before I focused on my family I worked in finance.
“As a family, it is within our DNA to help and when the virus hit, it was a reflex action to do something for the community. We decided to help 20 local families via the local charity Oasis in Cobham. However, those 20 families soon became over 200 families needing food support. The initial reflex was to buy the whole of the local coffee shop as they had unlimited eggs, bread, toilet rolls, pasta, and tinned tomatoes.
“By day three, we had found online warehouses, which had no limit the basics we could buy, things such as pasta, rice, baked beans, and crisps. We challenged the system and bought as many as we could, and we accidentally purchased a lorry load. Lockdown was announced overnight. The lorry was then stuck in Daventry whilst we were in Surrey.
“We then came across the amazing charity Action for Children, and between the food banks and crisis centre we were able to get them this shipment. We then quickly realised that the food banks and crisis centres needed access to more long-life food, as well as fresh produce.
“We then became the foodbank to food banks where we negotiated prices on their behalf as well as buying fresh fruit and veg along with cupboard basics.”
Raj, with her friends Goodie Kalsi, Laura Wiggins, Bryan Valencia and her two nieces Sonia Rattu and Sanita Mehta, along with Sharon Bowen worked tirelessly to enable access to food. Everyone donated their time generously and also motivated and shared what they were doing with their family and friends around the globe from Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico and India.
Speaking about 1TCA and opportunities it has created, a passionate Raj added, “1TCA is 3 mums who within 3 months have decided to make a difference and the face coverings are a revolutionary bi-product that we saw as a game-changer to reduce cross-contamination from the virus. Developed and manufactured in the UK by Project Plan B as a sustainable, 1TCA masks and snoods for both adults and children are recyclable alternative to disposable masks ending up in our oceans and powered by HeiQ Viroblock technology. The technology is proven effective against Covid-19 as 99.99%.
“We’re working with ethical factories within the UK who make our masks and look after their people. Our mask and snood collection are keeping people safe with their unique anti-viral fabric. The pace at which we had to move meant we’ve had no time to count number of employees. But what we do know is, we’ve enabled people to continue to work due to our initiatives.”
Parcel delivery firm Hermes is also creating more than 10,000 jobs as it gears up to cope with the shift to home shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. The company reportedly says it wants 9,000 more couriers, most of whom are classed as self-employed and so not guaranteed the legal minimum wage, full sick pay or holiday benefits. It will also hire 1,500 full-time staff, including some roles at its head office in Yorkshire as well as created opportunities. It currently employs 4,515 staff and 20,000 couriers.
Dr Rakish Rana, 48, is an Executive Life Coach and founder of The Clear Coach, London. Speaking to Asian Voice about why have people tuned to entrepreneurship during the pandemic, he added, “Some of it is desperation, some of it is spotting an opportunity. Some of the biggest companies in the world right now were formed in the last recession; AirBnB, Uber, Groupon. The fact that so many people are online, there’s a captivated audience to sell to. With so many people sitting at home – they now actually have time to do something, no excuse.
“A client of mine who I mentor was struggling before Covid-19 to get a niche business off the ground, but the lockdown afforded him the opportunity to pivot and get into PPE. Because of his connections to the Asian market, he was able to use his influence to really grow a business.”
Another report has also highlighted how the last recession hit BAME workers the hardest with the rate of joblessness peaking at 14.7% for these minorities. Many economists have warned that coronavirus would lead to a fate worse than that of the financial crisis. But a crash in the job market has resulted in a surge in start-ups and DIY businesses.
Online mortgage tutorials and international customers
Jay was working at a UK bank as a mortgage advisor and then moved departments to a fraud investigation team working alongside 40 colleagues. Speaking to Asian Voice, he said, “In January 2020 (before the crisis) we were told by our employers that our contracts would be extended, and our jobs were safe for at least a few years.
“Even with the pandemic we were again reassured that our jobs were safe. The UK was then placed in a lockdown and in the first two weeks we were told that we were all let gone and we had lost our jobs.
Jay talks about having to pay a mortgage and supporting a family. With the country in lockdown, he knew that it was virtually impossible for him to get through other jobs. He therefore set up his own business, uAcademy, which offers online courses for aspiring mortgage advisers. He said, “I decided to put my mortgage advisor skills to use and create a website to teach students. During the next three weeks I taught myself how to create a website and made an online learning course for people that are looking to change careers. Business has been growing steady with mostly Indian customers wanting to learn about the property and mortgage market in the UK. I have added Free Life in the UK Practice tests as a result for my international clients and plan to hire two more employees to help me with the expansion.”
He financed his business by investing his savings and started the company with less than £300 in software and hosting. His business is monetised through the revenue he makes on the sale of his mortgage courses. He said, “The more established businesses sell mortgage advisor courses for £600 or more whereas I sell it at for £198. The sales help fund the growth of the business and I hope to add more international customers.
“I normally use YouTube tutorials for learning new process and upgrading my website. For payments, I use WooCommerce and if I have any problems with payments then I would join the WooCommerce Facebook Group and ask a question. The groups are friendly and everyone usually helps each other out.”
You can visit his business here :http://uAcademy.co.uk
Instagram vloggers, bloggers and influencers
In the meantime, there has been a considerable surge of using social media to access target audience for their business especially among the creative millennials and Generation Z. ‘SprinkledbyHannah’ is a personal blog on Instagram started by Humairah in East London in May this year in the wake of the pandemic. A professional analyst her posts range from baking cakes to decorating them. Now, Humairah has been successful in garnering hundreds of followers in just two months’ time.
Other such influencers include Anj & Pri, dentists by profession but running wedding and lifestyle blog with 20k followers across social media platforms. Such platforms not only help them in gaining business through customised orders but they can also monetise their posts through paid partnerships almost like celebrities do, provided they have a considerable following.
It appears that the creative minds would be the first ones to survive and strengthen in a post-pandemic world.