Google – An inconvenient truth?

As a fairly new micro business – total complement of one! – I do not know enough about the corporate world of tax efficiency/avoidance depending on which view you take to make a right/wrong judgement call.


What is clear every time I do my VAT Returns or my Annual Return and get the respective bills I would like to pay as little tax as possible!  Who wouldn’t?


I don’t take the view ‘if I’m paying this huge amount (relative to my business) – every business should’.  Part of my business is working in the world of getting unemployed people from all backgrounds to raise their self-esteem and be equipped to go into permanent, sustainable work.  I see all the time the positive impact employment makes on them, their families and their communities.


Organisations like Google might do what we all would like and pay as little tax as possible but they are a considerable employer in the UK.  They are building new offices here which has the domino effect of a positive impact on local businesses as well. Local people will secure jobs.  The outsourced companies Google contract will hire more people.  What is the value to UK plc of this?


Whilst the headlines are full of France’s push to secure 130bn Euros – how much will they actually secure and at what cost to France’s job market and business economy?


Instead of knee jerking at the media headlines, maybe some reflective thought before making judgements is needed?



The brain – it’s just a physical thing right? So why do we refer to ‘mental illness’?

This is something I hadn’t actually thought of before.  As a Mental Health First Aid Instructor I teach how to recognise the changes in someone, starting a conversation and supporting them to get the appropriate help for them usually in the corporate workplace.


I recently stumbled across this blog written by Sally Buchanan-Hagen.  It makes complete sense and when you think about it, is exactly how we treat someone in hospital with a ‘physical’ illness,


‘During my past hospitalisations, I’ve identified some ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ when it comes to visiting (or not visiting) loved ones in hospital and I’ve put them together in a rough guide. As everyone is different, I would like to point out that this is how I like to be treated and it’s always important to gauge the patient’s individual situation when visiting them.


  1. DON’T show up unannounced. Like with physical illnesses it can be tiring having visitors. Particularly if you’re depressed and just need time to yourself.


  1. DON’T make yourself scarce. Don’t be afraid to message or ring the patient if you can’t get to the hospital. Send cards or flowers to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Psychiatric hospitals can be intimating and visiting someone in a psychiatric hospital can be confronting, but this is not an excuse not to visit (besides psychiatric hospital aren’t scary, they’re just normal hospitals with normal patients). During my first manic episode two of my good friends hardly visited for 2 months, which really hurt. Hospital can be lonely and boring so getting visitors is always the highlight of the day. (I would like to point out that those two friends have been fabulous during this manic episode).

  1. DON’T pity the patient. I don’t want pity. I want empathy and at times I want sympathy, but I don’t want anyone to pity me. Pity can feed the ruminating spiral of depressive negativity and puts a wet blanket on resilience. Yes, having bipolar can be difficult at times, but it is manageable and I normally live a rich and fulfilling life. So please, no pity parties.
  2. DON’T act like the patient is a different person or what they have is contagious. This is very insulting.
  3. DON’T blame the person for being in hospital. No one wants to be so unwell that they have to be in hospital. It’s no one’s fault, but the guilt of this can still be crushing.


  1. DO visit when you can; but always ask the patient if they’re up for it. Visitors are a source of support and they break up the monotony of the daily hospital routine. I love getting visitors.
  2. DO send flowers and cards. Not only is it a nice gesture and brightens the room, but is normalises the experience of being in hospital as a psychiatric patient (which in this day and age there should be no divide between how psychiatric and physical patients are treated, but that’s a whole other blog topic).
  3. DO ask if they need anything while in hospital like magazines, a favourite snack or if a simple job needs to be done around the house. Continue that care when they are initially out of hospital like you would for someone with a broken leg. It’s hard getting back on your feet and into your regular routine once you’ve been discharged so a little extra help is often needed. You don’t need to spend all of your time caring for the person, but little thoughtful gestures go a long way.
  4. DO bring fun activities into hospital. As I said, hospital can be pretty boring. I don’t know how many hours I whittled away playing monopoly or cards with friends, or just colouring on my own. These help to pass the time. Of course, some patients may not be up to playing games, it just depends on the patient’s current situation.
  5. DO validate! Never underestimate the power of validation. If someone is depressed instead of responding with pity or an upbeat (and often corny) saying, say: “that sounds really tough” or something similar. If someone is psychotic, then their psychosis is just as real to them, as to whatever is going on in your life. Don’t dismiss it because chances are that person is going to become confused, angry and hostile towards you. Listen to them and take what they have to say seriously.
  6. DO treat the person the same as you would when they’re well. Your loved one is still in there and no matter how unwell they are, they will know if you’re treating them differently. When I’m psychotic, although I lose touch with reality, I still retain my intelligence and empathy and I can tell if people are treating me differently. If they are it makes you feel misunderstood, isolated, paranoid and alone.
  7. DO acknowledge that we’re unwell, stay in touch and offer to help out. The biggest detriment to us when we’re unwell is silence – that we’re treated like taboo because we have a mental illness so we are left alone. Silence adds to stigma and prevents people seeking early treatment or none at all. Ask how we’re feeling like how you would ask someone who has pneumonia how they’re feeling. Ask genuine and honest questions with interest. Sometimes questions are all that’s needed for us to open up. Again, just simply talking about mental illness normalises it. We don’t want our condition to be swept under the rug it when it flares up. We want to talk about it with the people we trust.

And Finally…

  1. DO treat mental illness the same as psychical illness! After all mental illness is a physical illness – it just occurs in the brain. If you treat the patient with compassion, unwavering love and support, humour (again, gauge the situation), and show genuine, non-judgmental interest in what they’re experiencing then they will feel supported and loved. And in the end, that’s what we all want when we’re unwell. ‘


For me the most important thing to remember is the patient is the specialist on their illness and the affect on them.


What are your thoughts on mental ill health and the way people are treated?



EU – Referendum – In or Out?

There is a lot of rhetoric for both sides in the media.  With the pound already dropping against other currency it’s clear uncertainty, as with all things, breeds panic and a knee jerk reaction which is often wrong.


Instead of talking ourselves into or out of staying in the EU, lets take a moment to reflect on the facts we know – not the rhetoric – of both arguments.


Rather than be led by the loudest voice, why not research ourselves the in and out arguments?  Isn’t it better to weigh up all possible scenarios and calmly cast our vote?  The danger of not thinking the facts through could mean:

  1.    We vote for the wrong ‘side’
  2.    We don’t vote at all.

How can we moan about the result if we don’t use our vote?  For women, how can we look ourselves in the mirror knowing our predecessors fought and some died for our right to vote and then we don’t use it.


Don’t be led by the ‘pack’ one way or the other.  The voices of doom for both sides will be plentiful over the coming weeks.  Instead, stop, breath, reflect and make the choice that is right for you.


This is a once in a generation opportunity.  Let’s not waste it!

Growing Talent 8 – New Beginnings for 19

Monday 8 February saw 19 strangers from all backgrounds walk into Holborn Bars – a management conference and training centre in London not knowing what to expect.  All a little nervous.  Some a little sceptical.


Friday 12 February saw 19 trusted friends walk out of the same building.  So what happened inbetween to deliver this growth in confidence, self-esteem and trust? – The Orientation Week of Growing Talent.


After multiple stages of selection, the Associates as they are known, undergo a week long series of workshops, tasks, challenges and presentations to build their confidence and give them the tools to succeed in the employer vacancy they have been selected for.

Lesley Davies 3 rs

During this week, Lesley above – Head of Health & Safety for PwC – delivered her interactive workshop on the 3Rs – Refresh, Rejuvinate & Renewal!  This gives information and top tips on staying healthy at work.  Knowledge on how many ingredients are in a Starbucks Blueberry Muffin (48!) to how many calories are in a specialty coffee.  Combined, you would consume half your daily advised calories consumption – scary right?  Lesley then gave some top tips on sleeping – did you know repeating the word ‘the’ over and over relaxes the brain so much you quickly fall asleep when before you couldn’t!


Ben circulating

Ben delivered his bespoke ‘Give Yourself The Edge Presentation’ focusing on personal image, body language and communication.  Ben is Head of Client Services at PwC and has a wealth of top tips from his international hospitality career to share.


Bens practicalJPG

Laughs soon started when Ben gave a verbal instruction whilst his visible demonstration was different.  Amazing how many were caught out copying what the eye saw rather than what the ear heard!


Ben’s blindfold test brought home how important body language is even when it can’t be seen – eg speaking over the telephone……

Blindfolds hav it

The Associates also had a confidential hour roundtable chat with Rehana, Jacq & Kieran – seen in the centre below – some Growing Talent Graduates who know exactly what they are going through.

Group Jacq Rehana and Kieran

Throughout the week, we worked on communication, conflict management, taking unexpected feedback – all the situations that can arise at work.  A theme throughout the week was to devise and deliver a Social Enterprise idea to a panel of judges comprising senior management from the employer companies.



l-r above, Josh, Krupita, Chris & Jamie delivered Spray Your Way a unique way to bring graffiti artists to the mainstream and art to the masses.


l-r Julie, Dan, Sadeeq & Joe presented Silver Care a way to bring the older and younger generations together and learn from each other.

Tina, Jack & Richard below presented Circle of Life and excellent IT idea where young people teach older people useful things like Skype.  In return the older people share live skills and mentoring for the young.





Helping Hands from (l-r) Rebecca, Rosa, Ruby & Nathan had two parts to their idea. The first as a homeless outreach facility whereby an adapted vehicle would park in hotsports for homeless people to get showered and clean clothes as well as signposting to support services if they wanted.  The second part was an annual fundraising event.  A community fair where the homeless would mix with the community enabling each to get to know the other.



Tom, Mick & Charlene comprised Hairline a unique idea to provide bespoke wigs to cancer suffers to ‘give them their life back for as long as they have it’.  The revenue stream would come from makeovers for family, friends and nursing staff.  They provide support to the patient- but who supports them?


The final presentation came from Chris below


Unconditional Love came from his own personal experience and focussed on the need for specialist support for children/young people who lose someone close to them.  His idea included a website, app and 1-2-1 mentoring scheme.


The judges spent an agonising time trying to select one winning idea.  In the end Silver Care was selected.  Below l-r, Allen from PwC as Head Judge presented  the cash prize to Joe, Dan, Sadeeq & Julie who each received £10.


Winners Julie Sadeeq Dan and Joe

The judges then shared their career journey and joined the Associates for a buffet lunch.





The seated judges above l-r are Michelle – Portico, Chloe – Iron Mountain, Sharon – wsh, Shane – Invest In Buy To Let, Julie – Portico, Allen – Pwc, Michelle – BASE, Sharon – Harrow Green & Nigel – JobCentre Plus.  All were amazed not only in the growth of the Associates over the week but also their ability to devise an idea and present it confidently with no notes!


No wonder the Associates left as confident friends!  Watch this space and and @Growing_Talent for news on how they progress over the next 10 weeks……………