WHEN front of house staff from Newcastle’s business village were furloughed in mid-March they were determined to use their enforced lay-off usefully.

So when they realised furloughed staff could still undergo training, the Hoults Yard team signed up for courses at Newcastle College.

And what better courses in the wake of a global pandemic than ‘Infection Control and Prevention?’

“What our team learn on the course will help us prepare for operating our facilities safely after lockdown,” said Laura Goldston, Manager of HyHubs’ sites Hoults Yard and Hypoint.

“We know how worried and wary some people may feel about returning to their offices and studios after lockdown and we hope this training will give our tenants confidence and reassurance,” she added.

HyHubs’ six-person front of house team – Jess Arkless, Lucy Davenport, Hannah Leach, Bernie Whitfield, Leanne Bone and Kath Stavers – signed up for the four-week course and were then joined by Zoe Simpson and Kerris (correct) Gibson from Hoults Yard café.

HyHubs marketing manager Louise White and cleaning supervisor Yolandi Mario have also signed up for Newcastle College courses.

“When the COVID-19 lockdown began our sites understandably went very quiet, very quickly. We had no choice but to furlough our front of house team who were eager to do something beneficial with their time away from work,” explained Laura.

“The furlough scheme allows employees to train so they started looking for courses that sounded interesting and worthwhile, and Newcastle College’s infection prevention course certainly did.”

The free, online Level 2 Infection Control and Prevention course is designed for those looking to improve their understanding of infection prevention measures, or for those interested in a career in the health and social care industry. The course has a focus on COVID-19 and consists of ten hours a week for four weeks.

Tony Lewin, Principal of Newcastle College, said: “In this unprecedented time, we feel it is important we continue to offer support to businesses and individuals in the North East, so that we can help them overcome the challenges of Covid-19.

“Our range of free courses is here to help people and businesses within our community, whether they’re looking to develop a new skill or look after their health and wellbeing.

“HyHubs offers places for local businesses to thrive and it’s fantastic that we can help them to empower their colleagues and prepare for a safe return to the workplace.”

The Government’s COVID-19 job retention allows employers to claim for 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ usual monthly wages, up to £2,500 a month, plus their associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions.

Furloughed employees cannot undertake any work for the company; however, they are able to train while furloughed.