Inspiring….

Despite Growing Talent, an inclusive employment programme I run, being on hold due to the pandemic, it’s always lovely to catch-up with some of the people who have participated over the years on how they are doing especially now.

Amongst the doom and gloom, uncertainty and insecurity the global pandemic has spread, some heart warming news!

Catching up with Jane, Debbie & Sharlene from past Growing Talent programmes, it was great to see their ignited self-belief and drive for personal growth has not been diminished by the challenges presented by Coronavirus.

Jane updated me on her current role. Still with Baxter Storey, who she joined on completion of Growing Talent 4, but now at a different account, she decided to use some of her personal time volunteering in her local community to help young people. Despite the application and joining process – rightly thorough screening – Jane is determined to support and encourage those that need it. Just as enthused as she was at the start of her journey all those years ago, it was a joy to learn how well she’s doing.

Debbie contacted me to share she had made it into print! Yes, her Christmas jumper, almost as bright as her smile, lights up the PwC welcome floor in the Welcome Team’s newsletter to raise money for charity on the annual ‘Christmas Jumper Day! Despite a challenging year – more so for Debbie who loves her intrepid travelling to far flung places, Debbie has also just won a new internal role after being interviewed by a Partner at PwC! Fearless as a lion and always up for a challenge – Go Debbie!

Just this week I learned Sharlene had come full circle. After completing Growing Talent in 2019 she joined a national facilities company in their facilities administration team. Unfortunately, like so many, Sharlene was made redundant earlier this year. Did she retreat into herself? Of course not! She moved house and got a job with Department of Work and Pensions as a Work Coach encouraging unemployed people to find the right role for them – and hopefully referring some to Growing Talent once the pandemic is over!

I am always in awe of the spirit, determination, innovative, empathetic DNA of the amazing people I work with on Growing Talent.

I know the next chapter for Jane, Debbie & Sharlene is going to be amazing because they will make it so.

For more information on Growing Talent check out – http://www.growing-talent.co.uk

V- Day has arrived!

Listening to @TalkRadio this morning, I listened to the news of a new figure in history. What a joy!

Maggie Keenan 90 years young with her 91st birthday next week became the first person to receive the PfizerNBiotech Covid-19 vaccine at 6.31 this morning.

This amazing lady only retired four years ago. She is already encouraging her peers to accept the vaccine. Role models, beacons of strength come from all ages, cultures and backgrounds of humanity. Let’s not dismiss anyone based on our own assumptions. See the heart and strength within everyone.

A much better 2021 is now looming thanks to the ingenuity of scientists, supply chains, manufacturers working together to deliver solutions.

Nothing is impossible when we work together and share ideas and innovation.

A much more positive approach to this weekend than last when a feature in the national papers showed the mental stress on our NHS throughout the global pandemic.

My positivity has just shot up………. how about yours?

New month, new outlook maybe?

It seems like Covid-19/Coronavirus has always been with us! As a new month dawns, we can be forgiven for feeling it will be with us forever!

At a time when we are all feeling the pressure of the continually changing situation with no end in sight, it’s easy to let our negative thoughts take over and slip into a negative spiral. Perfectly natural behaviour for humans but not at all empowering nor nurturing.

I came across this feature on the global flu pandemic of 1918 written by Richard Gunderman and updated in August 2019:

https://www.healthline.com/health/1918-flu-pandemic-facts

This feature busted number of myths. I wonder how many of the information about Covid-19/Coronavirus will be deemed ‘myths’ once this pandemic is over. Check it out for yourself.

Some myths in 1918 included:

25 million people were killed in the first six months globally sparking fears this was a ‘super virus that would wipe out humankind’. Following the end of the pandemic a rational look at the ‘fears’ reveals they were myths but, I feel, not dissimilar to our fears today about Covid-19/Coronavirus. Remember the First World War was still in place in 2018:

“Much of the high death rate can be attributed to crowding in military camps and urban environments, as well as poor nutrition and sanitation, which suffered during wartime. It’s now thought that many of the deaths were due to the development of bacterial pneumonias in lungs weakened by influenza.”

Even though we are still in the middle of our pandemic today, researchers/scientists have considered a higher death rate amongst our citizens living in poverty/overcrowding. Sounds logical and makes me question how much have we really learned from history?

Thankfully we now have an annual flu vaccine for our elderly and vulnerable citizens.

A key thing I took away from this piece by Richard, what how overwhelming it must have been to live through the pandemic of 1918 BUT, it did end. Covid-19/Coronarivus will end too.

If we can dig deep to get the strength and courage to stop wasting energy focussing on things we have no control over – Covid-19, Brexit, Weather etc – instead, reflect on where we are and where we want to be to enable us to start plotting small targets to get to that overall goal instead of running through life on automatic pilot, how much more would our resilience and empowerment grow?

Let’s switch off all the negative news, stop looking at social media, stop listening to negative people and learn some positivity tools.

If we plan where we want to be this time next year with small achievable targets in the journey, we might actually get there. Just how empowering would that be? Let’s grab hold of the opportunity this new month brings….

‘Build them up – knock them down’

A couple of things struck me whilst reading this feature about doctors fighting Coronavirus/Covid-19 in Italy.

  1. It isn’t just us in the UK suffering although from the constant negative reporting by ‘experts’, ‘Government officials’ and media – we could be forgiven for feeling it is.
  2. All humans seem to have the same trait. We praise someone for doing something great and follow it by knocking them down. Whether it’s a healthcare professional, charity leader, celebrity with a social conscience – why do humans feel the need to do this? In the UK we spent months clapping our NHS – as many countries did. Now in the second lockdown, we don’t.
  3. Contradictory reporting gives mixed messages, causes confusion and spreads disbelief. As the feature in the photo says, experts in Italy have given contradictory messaging on Covid. Some medical staff are now being singled out for abuse. How is this acceptable.

Balanced, unbiased reporting of hard facts is crucial to enable people to make informed choices. Whilst we constantly want to ‘sell’ news – and let’s face it ‘good’ news doesn’t sell – we will constantly be dragged into this quicksand of confusion and suspicion.

Accurate communication in all areas of our lives – work and life – are essential to enable us to flourish.

What do you think?

Hidden Figures – Acceptable?

It’s long been known and accepted within business that figures will be ‘fudged’ to give a more favourable report on their performance.

 

Take a look at Estate Agent’s house descriptions – often not the same in reality.

 

Today Times Radio reported on the results of their Freedom of Information request from all healthcare trusts in the UK and found there are over 15 million people waiting for their hospital NHS appointments having been referred by their GP for further investigations.  Times Radio went on to report the Government’s official figures of this waiting list is just over 3 million as their stats are not centralised.

 

It’s accepted tough decisions needed to be made during the pandemic but there seems to be no clarification on whether the 15 million is accumulative backlogs from prior to the pandemic or if this figure is due solely to the decisions made to protect the NHS during the pandemic.

 

Either way it seems unacceptable to ‘fudge’ figures when lives are at risk.

 

We’ve already seen countless people who have discovered their unknown cancer has now spread as they couldn’t be seen during the pandemic.  For every individual there is a family who will carry the lifelong scars of these tough decisions.

 

Whatever the real figure, we can’t change what’s happened but we can come up with a solution to address this backlog now.

 

Will there be action or blame shifting?

 

 

Deflated? Never at Growing Talent – ready for any challenge!

We all know the pleasure and the pain that Coronavirus has brought. Although we’ve all been in the same sea trying to get to the other side, we’re all in different boats.

It’s been a rollacoaster for everyone – maybe just to different degrees.

For those able to work from home, there’s maybe been the challenge that others in your family have been doing the same! Home schooling for those with children has been an added dimension – not all bad but not all good either!

Some of us have been forced to look at our own wellbeing. If we’re lucky enough to have gardens – they are likely re-designed and weed free! Some may have set some space aside for a veg plot having seen the advantages of growing your own – especially in a pandemic!

Some have taken the time to learn new skills – learn a new language, bricklaying or joined an online choir or logo class.

For some living in rooms without their own space or garden the initial lockdown is particularly tough.

Now we’re nearing the end of lockdown and the end of the furlough scheme which is seeing the unemployment figures rise exponentially. Graduates and those who have finished A levels are leaving full-time education. There has never been so much untapped talent in decades.

The poison chalice of unemployment quickly strips away self-worth and belief even in those previously highly confident with solid work histories. This needs addressing. It won’t work for everyone being put into a job without a programme of rebuilding their self-esteem – enter Growing Talent!

After six years collaboration with Job Centre Plus on Growing Talent, I was approached by two key cheerleaders of Growing Talent – also managers at JCP! – to run some programmes to address this self-esteem void along with knowledge for job searching to give those looking for work the edge wellbeing and so on.

Next week kicks off a week long programme for Jill – JCP manager at Bromley for some of her customers. Followed by two sessions the following week specifically aimed at Graduates. We’re really pleased Sophie and the team at Smart Works are joining us on these session to showcase their amazing offering.

In August a week long course is deliver for Rajen of Job Centre Plus in East London.

Meeting and exceeding the Government’s Kick Start programme our partnership will deliver empowerment to participants to sustainably move forward.

Ask any Growing Talent Associate or Graduate – we’re never deflated and always ready for any challenge!

Can’t wait to get started!Deflatd

I caught a news item on Aljazeera this morning which posed  thought provoking, ethical questions about a vaccine for Coronavirus/Covid-19.

 

Who should be the guinea pigs for a potential vaccine trial?  We know someone has got to try it without knowing any side affects etc.  Is it right to trial it on healthy people and then expose them to the disease?  Is it right to trial it on those who are already sick?  I know I wouldn’t like to make this judgement call.

 

The question was then posed, once there is an effective vaccine, who gets it first?  The citizens of the country who discover it, the poorest countries with little access to healthcare, the healthiest population to prevent them getting ill keeping businesses going? medical staff, carers?

 

 

The world is a very small place.  People have friends, family, connections globally not just in the country in which they live.  We are used to travelling far and wide.  We know Coronavirus is related to the flu viruses and will be around now.  The genie is well and truly out of the bottle.  A quote I heard from  one of the speakers on AlJazeera this morning is ‘no one is safe until we are all safe’.

 

One thing is for sure, how humanity answers and acts on these questions will determine if humanity has a bright future or if it’s going to be a ‘me me me’ scenario.

 

What do you think?

 

 

The power of journaling

Having worked in the mental health and well being arena for so long, I’ve seen the power of journaling on the mind.  Capturing thoughts feelings, gratitude helps when reflecting back to learn to go forward.

 

But what if you are incapacitated and can’t journal?  Luckily for Mandy she had great nurses who went the extra mile to ensure when she recovered she could ‘fill in the gaps’ on the time lost through being in a coma.

 

 

93 days is a long time to miss from our lives.  We know how frustrating it is the morning after the night before not remembering what we said, did or where we were.  That’s just one night’s loss of memory through over indulgence.  But what about longer gaps like Mandy experienced through Covid-19?

 

The nurses started journaling each day for Mandy to read when she recovered.

 

 

Short entries but with powerful messages.  Now Mandy is home and starting the long recovering back to fitness without the worrying gap of those 93 days.

 

How amazing are our nurses?

Thinking outside the box when you business takes a hit

Coronavirus and Covid-19 have put some businesses into positions of having to explore new markets and make themselves attractive to new customers whilst still being accessible financially to their new customers.

 

One such business is a ‘club’ of fishermen and women who had their usual market stopped overnight due to the pandemic with the immediate shutdown of restaurants, gastro pubs etc.  Under the Pesky Fish website, the daily catch is advertised at 8am each morning – be quick though most things are sold by 9am!  You can elect to have the fish filleted or left whole.

 

I made my first order a little nervously.  How can fish be delivered by courier and still be good quality and fresh?  I need not have worried.  My first order arrived today.  Sealed in an insulated box – full recyclable with a really nice touch of information cards about who caught the fish, their boats etc.

 

Not only have I got a good quality selection of fish that will last 4-5 days, it’s cheaper than supermarkets and higher grade but I also feel I’m supporting a niche industry too.

 

So Dean caught my Pollack fillets:

 

 

Matt caught my Mussels

 

Ian smoked my Salmon!

 

 

Fancy some fish? why not check these guys out and support our fishing industry as well

 

https://www.peskyfish.co.uk

 

What’s stopping you? – Yourself maybe?

Coronavirus has forced us to stop and take stock.  Yes, we didn’t see it coming.  Yes, we don’t know when it will end. Yes, we still don’t know what the end result will be.  But, this is a unique, once only opportunity to stop, take stock of where we are in our lives and ask ourselves – am I where I want to be?

 

Hopefully, for most of us it will be a resounding ‘yes’.  For those who maybe feel change is needed in some areas of their lives, what usually stops them doing anything about it is them.  The negative part of their brain interrupts with self-doubts which get louder and louder if we let them.  This is perfectly natural as our brains are programmed to keep us safe and they do this by amplifying risk – think fight, flight or freeze situations.

 

We can learn tricks to move forward such as not thinking you can’t but just doing it.  I’m minded of the people throughout history across all corners of the world who have achieved great things when on paper stereotypical thoughts would be they can’t.

 

One who had diverse careers including that of a stuntman didn’t switch to being an inventor until his mid40s.  Trevor Bayliss initially starting making products to aid his peers who had been disabled through stunts.  On hearing about the AIDS breakout, he got to thinking of the isolation of remote villages who didn’t get healthcare information easily until he invented the wind-up radio – no batteries needed.  Totally accessible.

 

A fuller interview with Trevor is featured below…..

Taken from The Conversation…  This interview was featured following Trevor’s death in 2018.

 

Trevor Baylis, who has died aged 80, left his school in London at 15 without any qualifications. But he went on to become a physical training instructor, an engineer, a stuntman and, at 45, a full-time inventor, eventually finding fame for developing the wind-up radio.

Many of Baylis’s inventions were inspired from his time as a stuntman. He had friends who had suffered life changing injuries as a result of their work. “Disability is only a banana skin away,” he often said.

As a result, he focused his effort on inventing devices to help people with disabilities in their everyday lives. He came up with over 200 of these devices, which he named Orange Aids and included one handed bottle openers, foot operated scissors, can openers and sketching easels.

Then in 1991 he saw a TV programme about AIDS in Africa. The presenter described the difficulty of getting important health information to people who couldn’t afford batteries for their radios. Baylis immediately went out to his workshop to see if he could build a suitable generator for a radio. It only took him 30 minutes to come up with a solution.

The resulting clockwork prototype worked well but he struggled to get anyone interested in producing it. In 1994, as a result of being featured on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme and in an interview on the World Service, a backer came forward to help start manufacturing the radios in South Africa, employing disabled people. The vast majority of these early production radios were sold to aid agencies to distribute freely, but over time they also became very popular with consumers in the developed world and were able to be sold for profit too.

When Baylis’s design was manufactured as the BayGen Freeplay radio, it won him 1996 BBC Design Awards for Best Product and Best Design. It is still considered an iconic piece of British design, featuring in the UK Science Museum collection. Spin offs from this design included a wind-up torch and MP3 player, along with shoes that generated enough electricity from the movement of the wearer to charge a mobile phone.

The wind-up Baygen Freeplay radio. J. D. Pfaff/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Despite his fame, Baylis felt he had often not received the financial returns he deserved for his inventions and began to campaign for better protection for inventors. He argued that intellectual property theft should be a criminal offence. He suggested that all school children should learn about inventing and intellectual property in the same way that they learn about art. In 2003, he set up Trevor Baylis Brands to help inventors struggling to develop and protect their ideas, helping over 10,000 people and launching many spin-off companies.

Baylis provided some early examples of how design could respond to both social and environmental problems by producing products that didn’t require expensive and polluting batteries. He made his radio very durable and easy to repair so it would last as long as possible, a real shift away from the usual consumption driven product market. A 1998 study of radios with different power sources found that, despite its weight, the Baygen had a significantly lower overall environmental impact over a five-year lifetime than any other radio on the market at the time.

Ripples of change

Sustainable product design still struggles to be recognised and applied by industry today. Yet the innovation displayed by the Baygen radio, initially using human powered energy systems and later supplementing this with solar power, produced a ripple effect in the market and large corporations began to develop similar products.

Although many criticised the product for being unnecessarily robust, it wasn’t created for the same kind of use as typical radios in developed countries and instead was designed to be as durable as possible. Baylis’s radio illustrates the complexities of balancing environmental, social, ethical and economic decisions in design and is still a useful discussion piece for aspiring designers today.

Trevor Baylis embodied the role of the inventor, always looking for solutions to problems and proving his novel ideas through many prototypes. He understood the value of design and considered this to be an important step in the commercialisation of his ideas.

Baylis received an OBE in 1997 and a CBE in 2015 for services to intellectual property. Despite his many successes, he once said he had one big regret: not being selected to swim for Great Britain in the 1956 Olympics.

Wind-up radios can still be brought today.

 

If you are reflecting on potentially changing something in your life right now, don’t let self-doubt in.  Instead think about the wider impact you could make not only on your lives but those around you.

 

You don’t have to be an inventor to make a difference.

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