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Workers' lives 'put on hold' and savings 'obliterated' as coronavirus job losses take toll across Northern Ireland


Stevie Maginn from Belfast who lost his job with a travel agent last week

Stevie Maginn from Belfast who lost his job with a travel agent last week

Stevie Maginn from Belfast who lost his job with a travel agent last week

Two workers in Northern Ireland have spoken about how their lives have been placed on hold after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Stevie Maginn (27), from Belfast, lost his job with a travel agent last week just when the company was about to celebrate 25 years in business.

He said his savings will now be "obliterated" and plans to buy a house with his partner will have to wait.

Jack Hagans (20), from Dunmurry, was working at events after training with the Prince's Trust, but was sent into a panic after being told suddenly he has no shifts.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Maginn said: "I'm applying for jobs but I can't imagine anybody will be actively recruiting at the moment, hopefully they will bookmark them for the future.

"I'm fortunate enough that I have some savings and a good support network around me, but I'll probably have to obliterate my savings."

He said it has been especially difficult for his other colleagues who did not have any savings.

"My partner Dylan and I had been saving up for a house for quite a while. I can't see it happening at the moment, God knows how it's going to affect the housing market," he said.

Two of his friends were also among the 800 staff to be temporarily laid off by the Beannchor group.

"A lot of people will have dependants living in the household, others are living together and sharing rent," he added.

"People in hospitality are often on minimum wage and working on zero hour contracts. They have quiet periods after Christmas but they usually plan for that.

"But no-one expects that to go on after March. Those people definitely don't have the savings to see this out."

Mr Hagan's mother Christine Boyd (44) said her son felt panicked over the sudden loss of his job.

"He's lost everything, he's literally no money to pay for his car insurance or phone bill. All he got was a call to say 'sorry there's no work'," she said.

"It was a big deal for Jack to get this job. He has ADD and Tourette's Syndrome so he has a lot of issues with socialising.

"Now it's been taken away and it's set him back again.

"He's had to go to the jobs and benefits office to get Universal Credit which for him is about £200 a month.

"He's panicking now because he doesn't know where he's going to get the money from, I'm going to have to try and help him out.

"He has been quite down and even I'm quite anxious worrying about him. I spent about three hours on Friday on the phone and filling out forms for Universal Credit.

"So that's been stressful and I needed to take time off work to help him."

She also called for measures to help the economy currently being used in Italy and the Republic of Ireland.

"I've got rent to pay and if my younger son comes home from nursery, will I have to keep paying for it?" she said.

"If I knew those bills were frozen it would make a big difference to me. At the minute I'm not sleeping very well because of this stress.

"The government need to be clearer about what they're doing to help everyday people."

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Hospitality Ulster Colin Neill has said that Northern Ireland is now facing a "tsunami of job losses".

Speaking to the Stormont Assembly Economy Committee, he said: "We now have a disaster on our hands. This is an emergency situation.

"Overnight thousands of jobs went to the wall and we are expecting thousands to go by the end of the day - this is real and the government are watching this happen as time ticks away."

Belfast Telegraph