A family behind a dry cleaners in Bexleyheath have spoken out about being "hung out to dry" by a lack of Government support during the pandemic, putting their long-standing business at risk of closure.

Sav Savvides runs a small local dry cleaners on The Broadway called Immaculate Dry Cleaners, but says after 15 years of business he's now been left the prospect of a career change.

His wife, Helena Savvides, runs a Bexley beauty salon, meaning their family has had absolutely no income since December.

And Helena says it is a lack of Government support has left the parents of two, and the entire dry cleaning industry, "on their knees."

She told The News Shopper that the industry "completely forgotten about" and are currently "not making a penny."

Helena Savvides, who runs a beauty business in Bexley

Helena Savvides, who runs a beauty business in Bexley

"My husband's business is currently classed as an emergency business, and what that means is effectively no funding from government right now.

"And this is ridiculous. On a good day the business might manage 5% of what we would typically make, but the truth is there are so few customers that when Sav opens, he is actually losing money."

Helena continued: "Last month we saw restaurants, bars and pubs, most of whom are still bringing in some income through takeaways, all offered top up grants just to keep them afloat until the summer.

"What I don't understand is why we have got nothing, zilch from the Government. They're forcing us to open as essential, but we're not making a penny. What are they expecting?

News Shopper:

"Dry cleaners should be getting the exact same funding as those businesses, we have children, a mortgage and bills to pay."

She said that the Government had been "completely ignoring them," and the last 12 months have now left Sav possibly needing to close his business.

"It's devastating. He's 41, and he's just suddenly been faced with a career change, saying goodbye to a business he's run successfully for 15 years.

"I think when it comes to dry cleaners," Helena said, "most people just assume they are getting help like most other businesses, but in reality we've been completely forgotten about.

"Grants from government could have given us a lifeline, but instead we've just been hung out to dry."

Sav is now planning on gathering signatures from other dry cleaners in the area with the aim of getting support from local MPs, but faces a tough choice whether or not to continue the business.

Helena Savvides, who runs a beauty business in Bexley

Helena Savvides, who runs a beauty business in Bexley

Helena's beauty business has had slightly more luck, with self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) grants on their way, although even these have now been delayed until May, after the salons reopen.

"At least I know that when I go back to work, it'll be busy, people will flood back and business will hopefully start making up for lost time.

"But dry cleaners, I don't think many will be able to come back from this. We know several other dry cleaners who are already on their knees. People aren't immediately going to flood back to offices and events, so they'll just go out of business."

Helena said it had been a "horrendous year" for the family after Sav sadly lost his father to Covid-19 in March 2020.

"Luckily we have a good supportive family around us. But you never think you'd be in that situation.

"It is a money driven issue, but it's more, it's our livelihoods on the line."