Running a small business can be really difficult.
Running a small business with a pandemic is something else altogether.
We had classes almost every evening, it was a beautiful vibe with BSL Level 1 courses being taught and learned by many students. Early reports of the Covid-19 virus was still background news with life and business going on as normal. As the days and weeks went on, the seriousness of the virus was becoming more apparent, our classes were decreasing in size with some students opting not to turn up to class. Who would’ve imagined what was to come next…?
The cases in the UK were rising every day with whispers of an imminent lockdown to be enforced – leaving people and businesses feeling lost and apprehensive. By now, we had already communicated with our students and the vast majority were not comfortable attending classes (understandably), so we decided to pause the classes.
Hurdles for help
One of our busiest periods of the year was coming up just before we went into lockdown, so it dawned on us quickly that we were in for a financial hit. But we persevered and looked towards all the options offered by the government, which proved to be very difficult in some cases. Six months on we still have an on-going issue with Tower Hamlets council who expect us to give them 6 years’ proof for rent payments, utility bills and in their own words “any other proof”. All this to receive the government Covid-19 grant which we are entitled to. Their reason for questioning us? We changed our limited company name at some point and they did not get updates, although the company number remained the same; Tower Hamlets want proof that we exist at the location.
We waited for the grant but, finally ended up having to leave our location. To our surprise, the Tower Hamlets Business Rates team (who wanted evidence of our existence) decided to send us a bill for our temporary office we moved to, so it turns out they do know we exist!
Adapting to the recent changes has been a challenge for every business, but it has been an adaptation that was needed in order to keep going and teaching BSL. We were so used to teaching in person, having that interaction with people, sadly we haven’t been able to teach in that manner for half a year now. “Have to move forward”, this was stressed among the team, as we were brainstorming what to do.
We kept our chins up and got cracking with our first move – conducting all of our classes via live webinar. Students were happy, we were happy – it was nice to just get back to some teaching! Secondly, we decided to record the whole BSL Level 1 course and upload it onto our website with fun quizzes after each lesson. This was a mixture of fun, and very edit heavy for our designer – but the quality is important, has to be top for our amazing students.
Thirdly, in our quest to highlight and make people more deaf aware, we have introduced our deaf awareness training course for both individuals and organisations – let’s push together to break the communication barriers!
Fourthly (this list is not in chronological order sorry), we have moved office! The amazing memories gained, and great students taught, we will not be forgetting in our old office! But, onwards and upwards, our new place is easy to access and great space available for students – we can’t wait to welcome you guys back!
This whole experience has been strange, scary and at times left many with a feeling of loss, but at the same time, it has shown how great people can be. We want to thank you all for your continued support, for your passion for BSL, for your kind words of encouragement – all of these things have helped us and we hope we can help you all and continue to help the deaf community at large, by spreading more awareness.