AN entrepreneur who dedicated his time to help others find employment during the first lockdown has been humbled by the results he is now seeing.

Alongside his wife Rosie, Gerard Francis, who grew up in Harwich, founded recruitment firm Lighthouse Personnel in 2017, starting it up in their 18-month-old daughter’s bedroom.

However, it soon fell on tough times as the business was left crippled by Brexit – before the pandemic had even hit.

Now based in Langham, Mr Francis, 32, said: “We had been really ambitious with our growth and were reinvesting every penny, but then the pandemic hit and we were down to about £1,000 in the company’s bank account, and this was just at the start. We were on our knees.

“We had done a good job in getting people jobs but if a company makes them redundant within three months then we have to pay money back to them. As covid began, a lot of companies were sacking a lot of people.

“Thankfully, we were given a lifesaving grant which helped us stay afloat but not everyone had been so lucky. I decided to do something that would help others during what was a really terrible, uncertain time.”

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The 32-year-old began to dedicate 40 hours a week – unpaid – to create CVs for people who had lost their jobs.

And when all the redundancies came through following the collapse of Debenhams and Arcadia, he hosted free support alongside Colchester BID to help those affected get back on their feet.

“I just thought ‘how rubbish is all of this?’, it was so terrible,” he added.

“The people who were hit worst were those who had handed in their resignation to start a new job, then had their new job offer retracted and therefore couldn’t claim furlough pay from their old role.

“That period of mass redundancies was just terrible, it really was awful what was happening.

“It was so full on, I was working 40 hour weeks for free and spending an average of two hours on each CV.

“Now, however, I’m getting so many touching recommendations from people I wrote CVs for, it makes it all worth it to see I helped people during such a tough time.”

You can access free job hunting tips via Lighthouse Personnel Ltd on YouTube.