The coronavirus has devastated the livelihoods of many in horticulture. For Colin, who runs an award-winning fuchsia nursery in North Wales, 2020 was like no other.
“Overnight our family business for over 40 years was decimated. I had spent a lot of money growing the plants over the winter and with all the major flower shows such as Chelsea abandoned, we were left with no regular income and bills to pay. I didn’t know how I was going to get out of it and with a young family to support I knew I needed help.”
Colin turned to Perennial having previously met some of the team at flower shows. The sudden loss of income meant that the family were unable to pay for the basics. Perennial supported them with vouchers for food as well as helping towards electricity and gas for the first month of lockdown.
“Receiving the crisis support from Perennial was a huge boost. It took the pressure off when I was feeling overwhelmed. With food on the table and a warm home, I had time to think and explore ways to keep the family business afloat.”
The team at Perennial spent time with Colin to find out about the difficulties he and his family were facing. They helped him to review his money and understand the options available to him to repay his rising bills and manage his costs.
“Getting help from the professionals at Perennial was an absolute godsend. Nothing was too much trouble. They asked me lots of questions to get to know my situation and gave me advice on how to improve things for me and my family.”
And there was more. With schools closed during lockdown, Colin’s six-year-old daughter, Amy*, needed to be home-schooled and with much of the schoolwork now online, the family was struggling with a lack of IT equipment.
“We only had one computer in the house which we needed to fulfil orders for our new mail-order business. Simon, our Perennial money adviser, stepped in. With his experience he knew exactly what to do and managed to get us a laptop through Children in Need so that Amy could keep up with her education.”
A few months later with schools returning for the autumn term, Colin was faced with the expense of school uniforms. With his financial situation still challenging he found he was eligible to receive ‘Back to School’ help from Perennial to pay for uniform, shoes and stationery.
“Having not been at school for six months, the children had outgrown everything. The ‘Back to School’ support we received was a huge help.”
Over the Christmas period Colin and his family suffered another setback. His oven broke leaving them with just a hob to cook on. With the business still suffering from the effects of the coronavirus, affording a replacement was impossible. Perennial supported, providing a grant to replace the oven.
“Living without an oven, particularly at Christmas, was going to be difficult. But Perennial didn’t hesitate to help. Simon arranged a replacement oven which was delivered within a couple of weeks so I could give my family the Christmas they deserved with roast turkey and all the trimmings.”
Colin, like so many nurserymen, has relied on the garden shows to sell and promote his plants. The pandemic has changed all that, but through the support of Perennial and his caseworker, he found himself better able to cope with all the changes and hopeful for the future for his family and his business.
“The support from Perennial during the coronavirus pandemic has been invaluable. It really helps just knowing that there is always someone at the end of the phone to talk things over. My Perennial caseworker, Simon, has been a great mentor.”
If you, or someone you know needs help, find out more about Perennial’s free and confidential services for anyone who has worked, or works in the horticulture sector in the UK. This includes gardeners, nursery owners and workers, garden designers, landscapers, arborists, foresters, garden centre staff, commercial growers, turf maintenance specialists and many more.
Call us free in confidence on 0800 093 8543 or complete our contact form for help.