Well in the two weeks since I wrote my last musings here the world has tilted on its axis a little.
by Darren Caveney
Well it’s fair to say that a global pandemic is bringing out the best and worst in people. From panic shopping and shelf-stripping at supermarkets, to oblivious drinkers still turning up at their locals. But I do sleep easy at night in the knowledge that there are more good people out there than rotten.
Here are three things (actually more) which I have learned this week…
1. The good and bad of coronavirus-hit Britain
It’s seems churlish to write a list of pros and cons of our current shared crisis. But I always try to look for the positives and opportunities in any situation, no matter how extreme. So here goes…
Exercise. At a time when my calorific intake could hit a peak high I am getting out for a run and a walk every day. Solo, at quiet times and carefully avoiding all human contact, obvs. Man that fresh air feels good, even in suburban Birmingham.
Upskilling. This is a good time for me to upskill. I’m putting into practice all the things I have learned during recent powered-up podcasts training workshops. And I am trying out lots of new tech I had wanted to assess. Hands up if you opened a Zoom account this week?
Getting around to the things I have put off doing. Reading more, drawing, decorating the hall and stairs (well, maybe I’ll still find a reason not to do that)
Keeping in touch. I’ve had more calls and messages from friends and colleagues this week than any other week I can recall. Good people looking out for each other. If you are feeling isolated do shout.
Volunteering. I received a leaflet from a local volunteer group asking if I needed help with shopping. I almost asked them for some spare loo rolls! But joking apart I decided to join the volunteers group instead and stand ready to help with shopping and errands. What’s interesting is that I have got to know my, still relatively new, neighbours far more through the dedicated WhatsApp group, than I had in real life. Funny innit.
Beard. I always wondered what I would look like with a beard. Well here’s my chance. I’m on day seven and if I’m honest I am worried that a.) I’ll look like Roy Keane did (Google Roy Keane beard) and b.) it will make me look older. If I have a video call with you in the coming weeks do give me some ‘honest’ feedback.
Online dating. Yes, I really have sunk to an all-time low and this year tried online dating. It’s fair to say it has even exceeded my own very, very low expectations. But now I can blame my lack of success on a global pandemic! Hurrah.
Business. Well not to put too fine a point on it my packed diary of training and consultancy for March and April has mostly been postponed. I’m lucky that I have some projects I can work on remotely, and that the postponed work will still go ahead at a later date, but nonetheless it is a worrying time for everyone, whatever your work status.
On that, do spare a thought and think of the agencies, consultants, interims, consultants and freelancers you work with. Whether it’s paying an invoice on time or asking them to help reduce your huge work pressures right now. They really could be struggling at the moment so please do bear them in mind.
Loo roll. I don’t need to say any more do I.
Social media, much vilified, is a source for misinformation at all times. But it’s throwing up some lovely positive content and connections right now. As always, it depends who you follow. My top tip: Only follow people you like and/or trust. Your feeds – and your mental health – will be better for it. If that puts me in a bubble, fine. At least I know I’m in a pleasant bubble.
2. Support to consultants, freelancers, sole traders – a new virtual group
If you’re a consultant, a freelancer or a sole trader you’ll have, like me, sat and watched or listened to the chancellor reveal the support to business on Tuesday in response to coronavirus.
Unfortunately, if you fall into this band of workers there is currently no support.
And by support I mean tax breaks, VAT holidays, cash injections (not loans with interest payments attached) We work from home, generally don’t have offices, and most won’t have business loans,
Now we need to give the chancellor the benefit of the doubt – he’s only been in the job five minutes – so let’s see what emerges, fingers crossed, in the coming days.
But this group need some pretty urgent and relevant support.
My good friend, Sally Northeast, lives by the Gandhi mantra – be the change you want to see. So in that spirit I thought it would be useful to set up a ‘comms consultants virtual support group’
Why? To support, share advice and tips, to say hello, to have a virtual coffee whilst we make sense of what our working landscape now looks like. You can feel a bit isolated in normal times if you’re a one man or woman band. That just got multiplied ten-fold with coronavirus. So this group may help.
28 consultants have joined already and we’re having our first video call on Monday. Dedicated WhatsApp and Slack groups have been set up too.
If you fall into this group of people and would like to join in message me and I’ll add you to the list.
A little early to say but I can only see positive things coming out of this little initiative. I’ll report back soon.
3. When the going gets tough, creative people are at their best
This is such a truism. Launched this week, by the brilliant One Black Bear, was the #WFHwardrobe selfie, pic and donation to the St Basil’s – a homeless and support charity for young people in Birmingham.
The idea is you share a pic of your working from home outfit and donate £5 to St Basil’s in the process. St Basil’s have had to cancel all of their fundraising events across the city so it’s more important than ever to donate. Here’s an example selfie which will explain it far better than I can.
Such a simple idea.
The best ideas always are, right.
But they are not necessarily easy to think up. That’s where a good creative agency comes in.
If you can spare £5 please make a difference to St Basil’s work and donate HERE
Darren Caveney is creator of comms2point0 and owner of creative communicators ltd
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