The two sides of cancer during Coronavirus

A disturbing headline.  250,000 lives condemned because they couldn’t get tested/their treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic.  More families will be deprived of loved ones.  Some will never recover.  Questions will always be asked


‘with Nightingale Hospitals, why didn’t my …….. get their test/treatment in hospital? or why wasn’t I given the choice to go ahead with my treatment and the threat of Coronavirus in hospital or holdout and risk the spread – it’s my life, my choice?’


Heart wrenching for all involved.  Decision makers will have to bear the weight of their decisions going forward.  This, for me was the worst side of Coronavirus reported in the Sunday papers.


Below was an innovative feature alongside the one above which for me shows the best face of cancer during this period.  Medical professionals thinking outside the box to treating reassure their patients.



Whatever your view, one thing is for sure, a lot of long lasting pain will be caused by this pandemic which we don’t event realise the full extent of yet.

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?



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?

Great Expectations!

As we move through the strange times of Coronavirus and the new way of home working, it’s struck me how grabbing the unknown and just going for it is likely the best way of getting through.  A bit like gazing into the Milky Way depicted in the feature photo.  Wonder, possibilities, great expectations for what could be something fabulous.


I’ve spent decades travelling into London during rush hour with a journey time on average of an hour at the start and end of the day without ever considering if there was a better way of doing things.


Enter Coronavirus and Zoom!  Forced to work from home and think of new ways of doing my job using a medium like Zoom to deliver training/coaching with it’s virtual breakout rooms, whiteboards, team chats etc terrified me!  What if it all went wrong.  Well it did at the start.  I forgot to alter my speakers so there was no sound – ouch.  A temp issue which was quickly resolved giving those present a life.  A great little unintentional ice breaker!


Approached by Andy of ISS at PwC to run a session on managing teams during lockdown as well as considering any fears that may be in place in the slow return, I devised content to cover:


  • Dealing with anxiety and overthinking – work, home, travel, what is the new ’normal’ going to be?
  • Key signs that may indicate someone is struggling
  • How to start a conversation – preparation, environment, time, language, empathy not sympathy, virtual/in person
  • Our role – are we trained counsellors? Drawing the line
  • Dealing with difficult to hear subjects – suicide, self harm, FGM, abuse, eating disorders etc
  • What fears do you have in approaching someone? What if you do and they don’t want to engage?
  • What support signposting do you already know of?
  • What’s in your self care toolkit?



Using Zoom’s white boards we ended up with hysterical graffiti walls depicting what new skills we discovered about ourselves during lockdown.  We also managed to do a short poll which showed 100% positivity.


From surveys in so far it seems the course and handouts were well received.  Andy’s requested some more sessions.


So, the lesson of this experience is don’t overthink trying new ways of doing things.  Just do it – as Nike would say.  If anything goes wrong, we learn from it.  Like my first experience with Zoom yesterday, you may find it works really well.  Take a breath and just go with it.

“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 for ISS

Be unique – be yourself….

During the Coronavirus lockdown and overload of information about the pandemic – some factual, some total nonsense, I’ve tried to feed my mind by looking out for positive insights on life.


In this era of physical isolation it’s key to keep emotionally connected with our community – all parts of our community including  family, friends and work.  We are lucky to have the technology to do so via the internet.  It’s so easy to slide into despair if we listen to nothing but negativity.


So I was empowered to read a feature on Dame Karen Pierce the UK’s new, and first female, Ambassador to USA.  Her career makes interesting reading by itself.  One thing is very clear, she has done everything on her terms.


Who else would consider attending a meeting at the United Nations Security Council wearing a feather boa?


On being asked who was her hero, Dame Karen replied ‘Ginger Rodgers – she did everything Fred Astaire  did but backwards and in heels’.  Sums up the power of self-belief and #ICan attitude for both boys and girls growing up.

Speaking of her time in Afghanistan she said ‘the stilettos made me feel more confident’ – imagine wearing stilettos in what was then a war zone?


She has done amazing things through her diplomatic life quietly, without seeking publicity.  Who knew her name?  Shouldn’t we all? A poster person for always being yourself and always believing in yourself.  On her new role involving diverse countries and leadership administrations, Dame Karen says there are always key things countries agree on, no matter what else they disagree about.  You can use these things to build on and reach more agreement in the areas you don’t currently agree on.


Consider that for a minute.  What kind of community would be have after this pandemic if we looked at what joins us together instead of focussing on what divides us?  Most of us have learned what is really important to us is often shared by others.


If we are mindful, this pandemic could be an opportunity to change the celebrity status desire of being rich just for being famous not actually doing anything, of taking what we want from others rather than working for it, and the useless loss of life through knife crime which has either completely stopped during this pandemic or is just not being reported.  Maybe we could create a brave new world where all thrive and all care about one another by being unique, accepting our differences and focussing on common ground – a bit like Dame Karen.


#stayhomestaysafe #nurtureyourmind #crisiswillend

If Marks & Spencer’s can……

Usually, I don’t ready business mailouts.  Usually, they are just sending special offers that really aren’t that special, the usual PR/marketing things.


Last week, I was surprised to receive a mailout from M&S – stating that not only were all their foothalls/outlets still open but all staff still working are receiving 15% pay reward for the extra pressure they are under due to this unprecedented time.  in addition, M&S have not furlonged their remaining staff for the Government to pay 80% of their salary.  Uniquely, M&S are paying 100% of wages of all staff forced to stay at home.


Impressed?  I was.  What a fantastic employer M&S is, thought I.  What will the result of this action be?  Maybe staff will be more committed and positive and their customers during this time will remain long after Co-Vid19 is history.


Hopefully we will also remember those huge businesses who didn’t behave as honourably and take our custom elsewhere.


The Government brought in these fantastic support mechanisms to help small businesses yet large businesses with deep pockets and huge salaries want the Government bailout for themselves.


Take the world of premier football.  The argument for not sacrificing a percentage of premier players salary to support their frontline club staff seems to be they aren’t sure where the money would go and how it would be managed.


If we can set-up a hospital start to finish in 9 days, why can’t they set up a charity to pay their staff from these wages.  They can then offset their ‘donation’ against their taxes – everyone is a winner, aren’t they?


Integrity will shine through times like these.   As will those whose intentions are to abuse the situation for their own ends.


Let’s not forget.  We have an opportunity to make business kinder whilst still being profitable as well as an opportunity to carry-on the community spirit and be kinder to each other once this is over.


I wonder where we will all be on the other side of Coronavirus?  Will lessons have been learned?



Coronavirus – how are you handling it?

It’s a scary time for all.  Coronavirus is unprecedented  and it’s impact on individuals unknown.

Some of us will loose a lot despite Government interventions – jobs, businesses, homes, relationships, our mental well being and so on.

Whilst Coronavirus may be completely out of our control, how we look on this period is completely within our control.

Action for Happiness is an excellent online organisation posting well-being thoughts. The feature photo above is from Action for Happiness and an excellent foundation for us to use as a basis to plan our journey through the challenging period ahead.

Let’s take each point in turn in the photo and consider making it work for us:

  1. Consider drawing up a schedule to set-up video calls with your friends/relations and call them at a regular time each day. Note down three of your top techniques for keeping calm. This might include breathing patterns, visualisation of happy places or mindfulness.
  2. Maybe use different perfume soaps and sing a couple of bars of your happy song – one that makes you smile.
  3. Consider making this a poster that you can reflect on every day
  4. Water is free – consider making a chart to see if you can drink a tumbler every hour. Try different ingredients or cooking methods to mix things up.
  5. Check out the indoor exercises on YouTube. Consider doing this with family and friends on WhatsApp Video.
  6. Remember the 2metre rule when helping others
  7. Your feelings are important. It’s natural to go through times of positivity and negativity. Key is to recognise and not dwell on the negativity.
  8. We all need time to just be. Make sure you take this time for yourself.
  9. There is a great film on YouTube called ‘It’s not about the nail’ -check this out. It will really help you understand how important listening is.
  10. Sleep is so important. It’s ok if you can’t sleep. Get up and relax for a while before trying again. One top tip is to repeat the word ‘the’ over and over. It helps the brain ‘switch off’ I’m told by a Health & Safety expert.
  11. This could be five things from your garden or window if you don’t have a garden.
  12. Find something connected to your interests or something you’ve always wanted to know more about.
  13. Remember, everyone else is in the same boat so take a breath and spread happiness and understanding where you can.
  14. When was the last time you played Cludo, Monopoly or something else from your childhood. Not only does this evoke happy memories it’s good to switch off from technology now and then.
  15. Is now the time to finish that project you started some time ago?
  16. Music is proven to affect our mood. Why not spend some time listening to some music from a favourite genre or era?
  17. There are a wealth of free on-line courses – why not check some out?
  18. One idea that springs to mind is dancing whilst preparing dinner?
  19. Maybe you could compose and send a poem via email
  20. Now this isn’t going to be consuming a shed load of chocolate nor a crate of wine! Think about what will enhance your self-care and mental well-being.
  21. Especially important for those we’ve lost touch with. Now might be the time to re-connect.
  22. Whilst all headlines are about Coronavirus, there are feel good stories there too. Focus on these.
  23. It’s interesting to remember how young the internet and smart phones are! We managed before their invention. Start by reducing your tech time if having a day tech free is too hard.
  24. Can you change what you are worrying about? If not, why are you wasting time worrying about it?
  25. Make a list of everyone you know and note these points. It will help you see those you need to keep close and those you need to let go
  26. Looking at some goals you’ve made or are making for your self. What would be a good first step in reaching these?
  27. Saying ‘thank you’ means so much to those receiving it. The method you use to say it can add to that value – e.g. a handwritten note
  28. Coronavirus is a moment in time. It will end. Why not make arrangements to do something special with family/friends later this year?
  29. If you have a garden and can physically get out into it this will be easy to do. If you don’t why not pick a particular view from your window and check the changes you notice everyday?
  30. Clear and logical. A mantra we should all remember.

Whether you follow this plan or not, remember all situations pass in time. Be kind to yourself and those around you. Ultimately, all will be well….