Hollie: I was doing promotional and brand work for lots of different companies as well as working as a waitress and just getting into acting tutoring. These were my solid jobs with enough stability as well as flexibility for me to be free for auditions. I'd just booked flights to America for a friend’s wedding, so I was already pretty skint. Then with all the work I had booked being cancelled I had no way of making that money back as planned.
At the beginning of March I started losing all my work, so on the lead up to Lockdown I signed up to Universal Credit as well as walking to every supermarket within an hour and a half’s walking distance from my house, frantically handing out CVs. Thankfully the Sainsbury's closest to me were in need of extra staff for the lockdown period and I've been working there on the check out, self-scan and on the doors monitoring the numbers.
It was a really scary time losing all work and any source of income. But I managed to refocus and find work quickly really because I had no other choice. So many people have had to move out of their homes and I'm extremely thankful I managed to find work during this time otherwise I would have found myself in that position.
I've found it challenging sometimes dealing with customers who don't want to stick to the social distancing rules, but difficult customers can come with any job. Some days have been quite hard on my mental health, the uncertainty; not necessarily knowing when auditions will pick up again. It is such a daunting time for our industry.
Tanya: I was working as a teaching assistant before lockdown. I had started in January after working in a pub. I wanted a job that was during the day as I was tired of evening shifts, plus my partner has a normal 9-5 as a physio for the NHS and I was hardly seeing him. When lockdown began work was immediately cancelled and there was also no knowing if I would be furloughed as I work through an agency. It was pretty scary to be honest, I had just about gotten out of my student overdraft and was super proud of that.
After getting work at Tesco I signed a 15 hour contract on the Friday and started on the Monday.
My section was “Morning Goods” so I basically stacked bread, cakes, scones, croissants and that kind of thing. I would make the bread neat and then customers would come and mess it up which is really annoying; why do people look at products and then not put them back in the correct place? One shift I got to work in the bakery which was fun and probably a highlight as it got me out of stacking bread. The bread section was also next to eggs and flour so at the beginning of lockdown I kept having customers ask me why I personally didn’t order more flour…
I had been working for three months when I was told I would be kept on. Then two weeks later they told me they were letting me go. They said that due to government guidelines they were now able to take back staff that had been furloughed due to shielding.
It’s really challenging knowing that not everyone in our industry had to go out and get emergency jobs like I did. It was also challenging knowing that there was a lot of opportunities going round for people who now had time on their hands but for working class people it was business as usual because I can’t just depend on family to pay my rent. I think from my drama school class of 28 there were probably only three or four of us who had to get key worker roles. But it’s all character building I suppose