Struggles of the local economy – Liège in mourning
The Covid-19 crisis and the restrictions that resulted from it, have greatly disrupted the local economy for almost a year now and the latest lockdown regulations have had catastrophic consequences for a many in la Cité Ardent.
In Liège small businesses have had to keep their doors closed for weeks and many of them cried out in dismay after a young entrepreneur ended her life as a response to her dire financial situation. Alysson Jadin, a 24 year old business woman opened her hair salon Hooter's Cutting on rue Saint Gilles in central Liège at the beginning of August this year. However, the second wave of Covid-19 infections and the announcement of another national closure of 'non-essential' businesses was a big blow to the hairstylist, whose start-up was not eligible for government financial assistance. In the weekend of 15 November she tragically decided to take her own life. A week later, on Sunday 22 November, hundreds of people paid tribute to Alysson on rue Saint Gille. Like her, many small business owners are struggling to make ends meet and Alysson’s tragic act has become the symbol of the distress that independent business owners are facing due to the pandemic.
Photo: Mural of Liégeoise Alysson Jadin who tragically took her own life in the face of financial difficulties © Juliette Reip 2020
According to Jean-Luc Vasseur, president of the non-profit organisation, Commerce Liègeois,
"all entrepreneurs are in difficulty".
In Liège, it has already been predicted that one in ten small businesses will go out of business by the end of the pandemic and that one fifth more will have to endure difficulties for the next two to three years. Vasseur calls on citizens and residents to provide support to their local traders. He concludes by reaching out to the struggling entrepreneurs:
"Your trade may be your dream and when you have to close the door on your dream, it is very difficult, but be careful, protect yourself, because your life is much more important than that."
Since 16 November, Wallonia has arranged financial support for the businesses that cannot open their doors anymore. Companies with a 60% decrease in their quarterly turnover (Q3 2020 compared to Q3 2019) benefit from a 'droit passerelle' which provides them with income. The amount of aid will varies depending on turnover and number of employees.
For freelancers who need administrative help or financial aid the telephone lines 1718 (Wallonia) and 1819 (Brussels) can be called for guidance and support.
In case of distress, whether you are a small trader or not, help is available. Talk to those around you or to professionals who will be able to listen to you without judging and find possible solutions.
The Centre de Prévention du suicide in Liège can be reached 24 hours a day on 0800 321 23.