Search

‘Praying I’m not the 5pc’ - Self-employed dance teacher fears she won’t receive government support

PUBLISHED: 11:55 27 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 27 March 2020

Ashley Smith has started her very own dance school at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Ashley Dance Company offers dance classes for children and adults in ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, musical theatre and contemporary. Photo: Emily Thomson

Ashley Smith has started her very own dance school at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Ashley Dance Company offers dance classes for children and adults in ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, musical theatre and contemporary. Photo: Emily Thomson

Emily Thomson

A dance teacher from Norfolk is one of thousands of self-employed business owners who have been forced to close during the coronavirus crisis.

Students of Ashley Dance Company, taking dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley SmithStudents of Ashley Dance Company, taking dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley Smith

But as the government has announced that pay outs for self-employed workers could be introduced in June, there are still a number of independent businesses wondering if that will apply to them.

Ashley Smith started the Ashley Dance Company (ADC), at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre, in Thetford, nearly a year ago and now she is concerned she may be in the small percent of those who will not receive financial aid.

Ms Smith said: “Leading up to our closure, I couldn’t eat or sleep because I was so worried.

“Unfortunately, it’s still unclear where I fit in for support due to the length of time I have been self-employed. I haven’t got three years of tax returns.

The Ashley Dance Company, school of dance in Thetford, classes held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Emily ThomsonThe Ashley Dance Company, school of dance in Thetford, classes held at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre. Photo: Emily Thomson

“So, I think I am in a bit of a grey area. I just pray I don’t fall into the 5% who won’t get help.

You may also want to watch:

“But the most stressful part is the unknown and how long will this go on for. If it’s a month or two it’s not the end of the world but if it goes on longer for than that it is a worry.”

MORE:‘I thought I had lost everything’: dancer who thought it was the end of her career starts her own school

But despite the these uncertain, Ms Smith says she is keeping positive and has been offering free online classes for her 200 pupils and anyone who wants to get involved.

Students of Ashley Dance Company, taking dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley SmithStudents of Ashley Dance Company, taking dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley Smith

Ms Smith added: “I have switched some classes to online and I had about 30 kids on a video call the other day doing warm ups and stretches.

“And now I have made it so anyone can join in on the classes on Facebook, to keep the morale and positivity going, and kids engaged.”

“It’s devastating in regards to all of the work we have put in, especially because we have had to postpone our show and we are coming up to our one-year anniversary. It’s sad we can’t celebrate that with the kids.

“But I am staying positive. I am lucky I have amazing family who are supporting me.

Ashley Smith, owner of Ashley Dance Company,  teaching dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley SmithAshley Smith, owner of Ashley Dance Company, teaching dance classes at the Abbey Neighbourhood Centre in Thetford. Photo: Ashley Smith

“I miss everyone and can’t wait to get back and if anyone needs anything get in touch. We are all here to support each other.”


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Thetford and Brandon Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Most Read

$render.recurse($ctx, '$content.code.value')

Most Read

Latest from the Thetford and Brandon Times