Travel Stop agency owner Bridget Keevil is offering free desk space at her shops to anyone who is struggling and needs a professional environment to work from.
Keevil, who owns three travel agencies in Suffolk and one in Hertfordshire, said she was not asking for money or commitment from anyone interested in using the desks in her shops to work from.
The desks could be of use for those who have had to give up their business premises due to the current pandemic or have been finding it hard to work from home.
She said: “This is for anybody, it doesn’t have to be someone working in travel. I just thought it’s such a waste of space. We have all these desks not being used. If anyone still wants to see clients in a professional environment, there is no charge.”
In a post on Twitter, Keevil said: “If you are struggling after having to give up your office or shop, we have a desk with your name on it.”
Keevil said most of her staff remained on furlough until November but said she had been forced to let some go as a result of the pandemic.
The four branches, in Elmswell, Hadleigh, Claydon and Buntingford, are currently being manned by one or two members of staff part-time, with two of the shops opening shorter hours. I
In total the company now employs 12 staff, not including Keevil, down from 20 pre-March. Some have taken sabbaticals or unpaid leave and plan to return to the business once sales pick up.
“It’s the first time in 30 years that I have had to let people go. Every year since we have been trading, each year has been better than the one before – except for this year,” said Keevil, who is confident her own business will survive the pandemic.
She believes the government should take a different approach to lockdown to allow people to take individual responsibility for how they live under the virus, similar to the approach in Sweden and advocated by a group of Conservative lords, to allow the economy to survive.
“It’s going to be our children and grandchildren who are paying for this for years to come and the quicker we can come out of it, the better,” she added.
Keevil also recently launched a three-tier scheme called Inspirational Travel Specialists for travel professionals whose careers have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and who are interested in becoming homeworkers. Travel Stop already has four homeworkers its books.
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