With help from the Four Sixes taxi group, Amy Hodkinson has set up her own female-only cab firm after a post-maternity leave career change.
She has gone from swimming teacher to entrepreneur, and while the Covid pandemic has seen a rise in people driven away from the job, Amy has found a different direction.
She is now one of only a few women in the industry, with research from Bloomberg showing that in 2020, only two per cent of England's black cab and private hire drivers were female.
Amy said: "I started driving private hire in December 2014, after maternity leave with my son. I tried going back into my job as a swimming teacher but childcare just didn't allow for it.
"So when someone told me a local firm were taking on drivers and I was offered the opportunity to go on board, I didn't need long to think about it because of the flexibility and the fact I'd be getting paid to drive. I love driving, so it was a no brainer."
However, Amy's passion for the job began to fizzle out because of office politics and feeling like the 'odd one out', and she she took the chance to join an airport transfer specialist. But when lockdowns hit in 2020, she was forced to find alternative work at Morrisons and then as a delivery driver.
Thinking she would never go back into private hire, her luck changed when Four Sixes offered her some weekend work, and she struck up a conversation with managing director Shaz Malik.
Keen to empower women and to better serve customers who feel more comfortable with female drivers, Mr Malik offered Amy the chance to run one of the sister companies of Four Sixes, C&S Travel, which is known for airport specialists.
She said: "Shaz did this just because I had told him the struggles I've had with driving taxis for other companies being a woman.
"I've now been back in the private hire world full time since November 2021, and I've well and truly fallen back in love with the job.”
Amy said that now word is spreading that she is a female driver, there has been a noteable uplift in requests for her services at weekends.
She says she’s often asked if she’s scared being a lone female driver on a Friday and Saturday night, but the answer is always no.
She said: “We're all fully tracked the entire time we're on shift, we have a way of raising attention to any potential problems with the panic feature on our PDA (personal digital assistant), but most importantly, I know I have a whole family of drivers who would be there in a heartbeat should I need them!"
She added: "Shaz Malik has shown massive support to me over the last few months, he really has gone above and beyond. He is clearly motivated by seeing other people happy and achieving, and will stop at nothing to help those achievements happen."
Mr Malik said: “Women in the taxi industry should definitely get more recognition. Operators across the country should be supporting women and there should be a special day given to the women taxi drivers around the world."