When the going got tough – Cherie Atilano got innovative !

Check out this great story  featured by the World Economic Forum on what one woman did to bring families who had no food together with farmers who couldn’t sell their fruits and vegetables….


  • As COVID-19 lockdown measures affect food distribution in the Philippines, one woman has found a way to get food from farms to consumers.
  • Social entrepreneur Cherrie Atilano has enabled farmers to sell food that otherwise would have been dumped.
  • Now she plans to help her fellow citizens set up city farms to improve food security.

When Cherrie Atilano set out to change the lives of farmers in the Philippines she couldn’t have imagined she would one day be helping to feed people in the nation’s capital, Manila, during a global pandemic.

Agrea, the social enterprise she founded, wants to end rural poverty by helping farmers move from subsistence to small-scale commercial farming. But when the Philippines started to lock down to slow the spread of COVID-19, farmers found their routes to market cut off.

The restrictions meant some could not even go into their fields to pick crops and, although trucks were available, drivers were staying at home. Before Atilano launched her #MoveFoodInitiative, farmers had been forced to dump tonnes of edible food.

coronavirus lockdown philippines food hunger transport supply chain truck road closures waste agriculture farming
A pineapple farmer is forced to dump his crop after losing his market due to lockdown.
Image: Cherrie Atilano

Atilano, one of the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Young Global Leaders, decided to use her extensive network to appeal to private truck owners to help ship the food to consumers in towns, villages and the capital.

Feeding key workers

By 26 April, the initiative had shipped almost 138,000kg of fruit and vegetables from almost 4,000 farmers, reaching nearly 30,000 families.

In addition, the project is donating food to eight community kitchens set up to feed frontline medical staff treating people with coronavirus. So far more than 2,000 medics have benefited from free food.

coronavirus lockdown philippines food hunger transport supply chain truck road closures waste agriculture farming


Can we learn something from Cherie?  Our UK farmers have already warned their crops won’t be picked and huge amounts of food will go to waste in the UK.  Time to get innovative here?

Calling all Growing Talent Graduates….

Lockdown has been tough for us all.  The frustrations, thoughts and fears can run high.  It’s easy to overthink things especially when thinking about the future and what a return to work will look like.


A few of us graduates are getting together via Zoom to share our thoughts and support each other.


If you have been through Growing Talent and would like to join us, contact me for details.


Our inaugural Zoom meeting takes place Monday 1 June 2020.

Steps to effective communication when someone is struggling

Yesterday saw me deliver the second virtual session with 19 members of ISS including all levels of staff.  Learning from each other we explored, how to start a conversation when we’ve seen a change in someone.  This of course takes planning.  When’s the right time, the best location to avoid interruptions, what language should we use, our tone, what empathetic words work best.  What happens if someone doesn’t want to talk? Or if the subject is something painful/against our beliefs/cultural backgrounds?  How can we ensure the person feels validated and supported even though we aren’t the right person?


How do we listen and why is it essential to reflect back on what we’ve heard?  Giving reassurance that emotions are very real to them and natural in the circumstances they are in without giving advice or trying to ‘fix’ them.


Encouraging professional help is a key step.  Sometimes mental poor health is cause by physical issues.  Our mind, body and spirit work so closely together it’s not always easy for professionals to diagnose the real issue.  In Afro Caribbean people they can exhibit signs of depression when in fact they have a Vitamin D deficiency.  So a professional check is always a key step.


Waiting for appointments can be agonising.  Therefore, self care techniques can help manage what the person is feeling whilst they are waiting.  Guiding them to use mediums that usually calm them or indeed trying something new is pivotal to self-care.  Talking of self-care, anyone listening to someone who is in pain emotionally, needs to practise self-care themselves after.  You cannot pour from an empty cup!


We also looked at building a self care plan into our daily routines to enable us to become more resilient in dealing with life’s challenges.


So what did the guys think of the session yesterday?…

“The sessions make you think about things in a totally different way and give you the knowledge on how to approach different scenarios or difficult subjects.  I always look forward to Janes sessions. They are always professionally delivered and interactive which makes them enjoyable as well as very informative.” Mark Hetherington, PwC National Contracts Manager, London

“In an informal setting it gives you a good understanding on what/ how to respond to staff. I’d definitely recommend it to others.” Alison, Birmingham

“I learnt so much from today’s session.  I feel more prepared for dealing with possible vulnerable team members and I know when to stop and understand when something/a situation is beyond me but I know the next steps.  Thanks Jane” Loraine, Belfast

“The steps to thinking about when making an approach was really good, very simple and easy to follow and I now feel a lot more confident if faced with this.” Rakesh

Virtual sessions enable teams split across the UK to collaborate together.  I think this new way of working is here to stay!




Doing things differently – Carpe Diem!

When life throws you a curve ball, you can either crumple or run with it.  With the lockdown continuing and people’s strange new life continuing it seemed apt to change person-to-person training to virtual where possible.


A little sceptical of how good it could be, I was astonished how well received my first course was.  An informal discussion on coping with lockdown, the new challenges faced, new skills learned.  Working with 16 team members at all levels of management from ISS in London, the conversation, ideas and laughter flowed.  So what was the outcome?  You can see some of their feedback below – and they’ve booked more courses kicking off with the key steps to starting a conversation, managing it if dark thoughts emerge and self care – critical to building resilience

‘Jane is a first class facilitator, she makes each session impactful and enjoyable which is a really difficult balance to achieve, I would wholeheartedly recommend.’ Andy Ingham, National Operations Manager – This is great feedback for me as Andy was the client and is a facilitator himself.

‘Good, not too formal, interactive and encouraged all team to participate throughout.’ Alison

‘I got a lot from the session just by listening.’ Leon

‘Jane was very open, calm and keep the session flowing easily.  Jane felt like one of our team.’ Loraine

‘The information given on the session was perfect and it gave me the knowledge to look for signs and how to deal with difficult conversations especially where personal circumstances are concerned.’ Mark


So, if you are presented with an opportunity to do something different – don’t overthink it.  Definitely don’t let self-doubt in.  Tell yourself it will be a great experience and you will learn more about yourself doing it.  What’s the worse that can happen?


Courses coming up include:


  • It’s Not About The Nail – don’t try to fix what you think is the obvious
  • Create Your role in The Future
  • Creating Empowerment In Your Teams
  • Personal Empowerment


From June, the licensed global Mental Health First Aid full Adult course can be run online following MHFAEngland’s intensive collaboration with global partners to develop the new virtual programme.


As a Crisis Volunteer with Shout for the past year, I’ve seen how dealing with crisis via text messaging has literally saved lives.  Who would have thought texting could have such a positive impact?  Nancy Lublin the founder of Crisis Text Line in USA helped set-up Give us a Shout in the UK.  Along with HRH Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, Nancy spoke about why she started the text line.



Using text instead of phone lines enables people to gather their thoughts and reflect on what they are ‘writing’ in their texts.  They can also reflect back later on the empathetic responses from the crisis volunteer.  What Nancy discovered was those in fear of their lives from others could get help without being heard using a phone.  There are now crisis text lines springing up in more countries.  Mobile carriers waive the costs of texting to Shout in the UK so it’s accessible to all.  If you are in trouble – text Shout to 85258.


As an Associate Tutor with British Safety Council, many of their  courses including Start the Conversation, Management the Conversation, Train the Facilitator could be delivered online – something they are looking into.


We all need to think of how to do things differently.  This could be a fantastic opportunity.  We just need to not let doubt in.


Carpe Diem – Seize the day!