A former factory employee who struggled to find work during the pandemic says his life has changed for the better after becoming a Newcastle taxi driver.
According to ChronicleLive, Simon Goodfellow has recently qualified as a driver for Budget Taxis after becoming fed up with zero-hour and temporary contract work in factories.
The 47-year-old joined the firm based on Hadrian Road, Newcastle, just before Christmas after reading about the recruitment appeal on ChronicleLive.
"With Covid, I didn't work for about eight or nine months," Simon said.
"I was doing factory work, which was often temporary, but it was hard during the Covid pandemic as I have been in and out of work.
"So this job has been good for me really."
It's the first time that Simon has worked as a taxi driver and before heading out on the road, he underwent a week's training course at the firm's Newcastle office and sat a locality test.
Budget Taxis says that drivers, like Simon, are provided with a new car and said the firm pays for expenses including the insurance, repairs and taxi registration plates issued by the council.
The company also covers training and medical costs and organises DBS checks.
Simon, from Ponteland, pays £190 a week for his vehicle and says he can earn big money compared to his previous jobs.
"The money you can make is very good, especially over the Christmas period, but I have found that [the work still] hasn't died off," he said.
"Over the Christmas period, I made about £2,000 in one week, but you have to take into consideration I did work Christmas Day and other bits and pieces."
For Simon, the job has been life-changing and he says he doesn't regret taking the plunge in applying.
He continued: "It's definitely changed my life. Being your own boss, you can't beat it.
"If you want a day off, you can have a day off. You can just work a few extra hours to make it up.
"There is plenty of work and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. If you are a friendly enough person and like driving you should have no problems."
David Singh, customer care manager at Budget Taxis, said that the firm has taken on around 120 drivers since launching its recruitment drive in September last year.
"We are really pleased with the response from the campaign," David said.
"Some of our drivers have worked in warehouses or retailers that have closed down and some of them that have worked for energy companies that have struggled, so they have come from all different walks of life."
However, the firm is still looking to hire around 500 more drivers to keep up with the demand from customers.
David said the firm is keen to employ female taxi drivers and stressed that all taxis are fitted with a panic alarm button in case of emergencies.
David continued: "Customers are still being let down because of the lack of drivers but we are doing our best to get the jobs out on time."
Anyone wanting to apply to be a Budget Taxi driver should contact David Singh with their name and contact number on 07566 741675 or email email@example.com.