.

Stoke-on-Trent dance school owner says they feel have been forgotten by the Government

The owner of a Stoke-on-Trent dance studio is angry they have received no guidance from the Government on when they can reopen.

Katie Tonkin-Beardmore started SCDC Dance School nine years ago, and recently invested in larger premises in Longton to accommodate their 300 members.

Like other non-essential businesses, they closed their doors in March at the start of lockdown.

Gyms, leisure centres and dance schools have not been told when they can open their doors again.

Katie says the announcement that pubs, cinemas and hairdresser can open at the weekend left her furious.

She said: "I'm really mad, I'm really really mad.

"I'm not happy with what is being opened as a priority, its all for money.

"I don't understand when you would open that first when health is a big issue, fitness is a big issue, mental health is an issue.

"It has just been forgotten about, we have been forgotten about.

"The dance industry, and sports in general, we have been forgotten about."

Katie says while she has had some financial support in grants, it is not enough to sustain the business if they can't have students back again.

She has told Signal that she has spent £1,000 on safety measures to ensure the business is covid-19 secure, and feels that they are ready to reopen now.

Katie says staying closed is having a big impact on a lot of people.

She said: "It is just not affecting my mental health, my business is what provides for my family and I've got no income.

"It has never been about the money for me as a teacher anyway, I just love teaching and working with children.

"I don't just have members who come to dance, I have adult members who don't have anybody - no family or friends.

"I have got a lot of children who are really struggling.

"I've got a lot of friends who are dance teachers and a lot of friends who run gyms, and they have a lot of clients and members who are struggling with their weight, really depressed, and just don't know what to do with themselves."

Petitions have been set up, calling on the Government to act.

One on the Parliament website has been signed by more than 100,000 people, meaning it will be considered for debate.

Katie says they have to take it seriously.

She said: "If they don't, then as a dance industry we are going to go to Downing Street to protest. 

"I'm sure that the gyms and sports will follow as well, because we just feel forgotten about.

"We can't last any longer."

Listeners have been sharing their thoughts about the situation on our Facebook page.

Natalia Sieniawska wrote: "I’m an owner too and totally agree!!! Is really easy to keep distance/ clean regular properly, also we provide “healthy life” plus give a good mood 😉 what I think during lockdown is important for people.

"Can’t understand why pubs can be allowed and we not."

Kerry Jayne Pemberton posted: "My daughter is a dancer and can’t wait to get back to train. It just isn’t safe yet."

 

Carly Ball said: "As an owner of a boxing club who does mainly non contact classes I completely agree with you. Get them open soon."

Jennifer Hancok wrote: "Dance, unfortunately, is classified as fitness and fitness comes under the same umbrella as gyms even though there are several variations.

"I’m a freelance instructor teaching low impact classes which were suspended in March and no clue when we can start again, no classes, zero income."

You can share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

More from Local

Cover art for Take A Chance On Me

On Air

Andy Crane playing Abba - Take A Chance On Me