'My strange gratitude for Covid job change'

time:2023-06-04 08:18:44source:CBS News author:Press center 1

The pandemic forced many people across the country to rethink their job and how they worked.

People have been speaking to BBC Radio Gloucestershire about how Covid prompted a career change they were "strangely" grateful for.

Rachael Willoughby, George Hill and Pete George all started their own business.

Ms Willoughby started a pizza business with her partner.

Mr Hill went from working in a gym to creating an online fitness business and Mr George fast-tracked his axe throwing business to run it full time.

Former gym worker, George Hill from Cheltenham, took his business online as a result of restrictions and "never looked back".

Mr Hill set up C&G fitness with his friend Callum Stewart and said they "basically had to make the best of a bad situation at the time".

"When Covid came around, lockdown happened and no one had a clue how long it would last.

"I was lucky as living at my parents I didn't have too many overheads."

The pair worked out a plan for an online business as "pretty much everything had moved online" and focussed their ideas on helping busy women get fit and healthy.

"We've been doing it for about two-and-a-half years and it's just grown and grown and grown."

He said the online approach is "much more beneficial for the client" as it offers more flexibility around a busy life and the pair are able to a wider "holistic" service including nutrition and support.

It has also allowed geographic flexibility with Mr Hill moving to London and Mr Stewart to Australia while growing their business.

Mr Hill said: "The lockdown and the Covid side was really rubbish but for me personally, what we've been able to create off the back of it, there's a lot of positives as well."

"Without the lockdown… I don't think online coaching would have been as popular... so I have a strange gratitude for it," he added.

Pete George, from Cheltenham, was working as an IT consultant when the pandemic hit.

He began setting up escape rooms in 2018 and ran it as a company in 2019 after it began doing well.

He added axe throwing as part of that, having learned a few years before but said it all "shut overnight" in 2020.

Mr George said originally the "idea of chucking in my relatively well paid IT job and the business I've been running for 20 years never really occurred to me.

"But I suppose Covid just said 'well you can just chuck everything to start again overnight so why not?," he added.

He now runs the axe throwing business Eat Sleep Axe and escape rooms full time.

Rachael Willoughby and Elliot Richmond from Cleeve, Tewkesbury, started making and delivering pizzas in lockdown.

"Elliot has been making pizza for years for friends and family and they've always said you should sell it," said Ms Willoughby.

The pair ran a software development company and were discussing how businesses would have to pivot during the pandemic.

Then they lost "almost 50% of our work through contract work".

Mr Richmond made a comment about how takeaways would "really boom" in the climate of lockdowns and they decided to give their pizza plan a go. CassaGee's pizza was born.

"In the early days it was literally six pizzas and now there are 17 pizzas and about 28 toppings..."

However, Mr Elliot said "we don't put pineapple on our pizzas".

Ms Willoughby said they have regular Italian customers who tell them "it's the best pizza outside of Italy".

Now they have it running "like clockwork", Ms Willoughby said they have decided to franchise the business.

"We've got this system we've honed down.. and in this climate it feels like a good idea to help people and show them how they can make dough from making dough," she added.

Rachel Clark, from Longlevens, started teaching just before the pandemic so her training was broken up by the lockdown.

She said: "When I took my first [teaching] job it was the first September back after Covid so it was very stressful."

She started doing nails as an "escape" from her day job and said it was her son that made a permanent change more important.

"Before I had Teddy, I was very career focused or goal oriented and I'd do what it took to get there.

"But when we had the enforced lockdown I didn't have anything to do - I wasn't teaching online…"

She said it was "much slower and more relaxed" and she had the time to spend reading and crafting with her son.

"Before I always knew he'd be in nursery full time as I was working full time and so he'd probably say his first word or walk the first time at nursery.

However, lockdown made her realise she did not want to miss those parts of his development and she decided to make her nail hobby into a business and Beauty Scape by Rachel was born.

She said her clients are often "busy mums", so much of her work is evenings and weekends and she does not need to work during school holidays.

"Having the freedom is worth it," she added.

She said: "I think lockdown changed a lot of peoples perspective about what was necessary and… a lot of peoples outlook on how life has to be.

"I think just work out what it is you want and try and work out a plan to get that…" she said.

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