Debbie Burrows was landlady of the Lake Road Inn in Keswick, Cumbria, for more than two decades and brought up her children in the family pub. The leukemia mum recently retired but is now back at work because she can’t find enough staff following Brexit and the easing of Covid restrictions.
And with Brexit and the cost of living crisis, the family is struggling to find staff and make ends meet, reports Lancs Live.
Debbie said: “We have no EU students or workers, we are family run and can’t keep up with the big chains.
“I only have four staff from Keswick, five from out of town and one of them is traveling from Egremont.
“My family had to resettle, my daughter is a teacher and during the summer holidays she comes and works here, my other children also help and make changes where they can.
“I don’t know if it’s the hours and people don’t want to keep them or if it’s because employees left the industry during the lockdown. It was so hard.
“I’m at high risk because I have leukemia and I had to come out of retirement, but Covid is still lurking and it’s worrying.
“My husband has had to get a job at Sellafield because we can’t afford to take two salaries from the pub.”
Speaking about the change, she explained that the hospitality industry was a place where you could have a job for life.
She said: “I used to train people to bartend and tell them if you can do it, you can always find a job.
“But now we’re understaffed, I’m more and more behind the bar, which I don’t mind, but it puts me at risk. My husband worries about me.
“When we were doing table service, it almost killed us when it was so difficult.
“We’re busy, and usually we can make enough in the summer to get us through the winter, but we have to work harder because we don’t have anyone else.”
When you enter the bar there is a sign apologizing for the lack of staff and they go out of their way to explain to customers how long it will take for the food to arrive, which can sometimes be up to an hour.
She admits it’s not ideal, but 99 percent of customers don’t mind as long as the staff waits honestly and informs them of their order.
Debbie’s situation is not a one-off.
A short walk around Keswick and most shops or cafes have job adverts in their windows, but they say there aren’t enough people in Keswick to fill those jobs.
Debbie said: “The Coffee Lounge has good hours, 9am to 4pm, but we have to close two days a week because we’re understaffed and I can’t do everything.”
“It’s the same here [the bar]when the food runs out, when there are no customers or it’s very quiet, we have to close.
“The cost of heating and electricity has gone up so much and with all our other bills we just can’t afford to be open all the time.”
The Shaff shortage is not just an isolated incident in Keswick, which has businesses across the UK fighting find employees as a result of Brexit.