The past 12 months have been one we’ll look back on and reflect for years to come. “Do you remember 2020? The year everything changed.” Is what we’ll say.
Before March 2020 most of us hadn’t really that much understanding of what a pandemic was or a coronavirus. We may have heard of epidemics but pandemics were new and scary. But here we are one year on and we’re pushing back, fighting through and hopefully winning!
So what has the last year and COVID19 meant to us at Social Progress, our clients, friends and community? And what changes have we made, things have we experienced and embraced?
We decided on the 17th March, a week before most that the time was right to pick up our laptops, second monitors, mouse and keyboards and work from home. It felt strange at first but we soon adapted. We connected through WhatsApp as each team member have their own business mobile and via Zoom catch ups. Zoom was new but we’d wanted to use it for a while so we dived in and learnt as we progressed.
April is #StressAwarenessMonth and boy did we ALL feel the stress of lockdown and wondering what the future would look like if / when we would ever see the other side of COVID19. Speaking with friends, contacts and clients it was very apparent that everyone was feeling anxious mainly down to the uncertainly and constant changes.
But the good news was we were getting more familiar with Zoom. Janet took over as President at BNI Terriers. A networking group that until now had met face to face. Now it was being conducted online. A little challenging to start with but members soon adapted and found it benefited with less time wasted in traveling to and from meetings.
April was also the first ever only MY Network meet up. Social Progress are one of the partners along with Ramsdens Solicitors, Better Telecoms, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, The Media Centre, First Choice Recruitment, Copiserv and Northern Media. We meet face to face monthly usually. But it was time to take this online. In April we had 17 people register but as the months progressed the number of registered visitors grew….read on.
57 attendees registered for the online MY Network and people finding us from far and wide. So far in fact they were logging in from Belise, Australia, India and France as well as locally in and around Huddersfield and Wakefield.
So now events were being pushed back and the real impact was beginning to bite for our friends in the Hospitality and Events sectors.
Work we had planned to complete for the newly commissioned website for Honley Business Association came to a stand-still. But again, read on. There’s good news coming!
Whilst the world around us seemed to be struggling, people were being ‘put on furlough’. Another new word we’d not heard of until March 2020! At Social Progress we’d seen some clients request to pause with us. Others take their social media back in-house but we also gained lots of lovely new clients too. We felt a lot was down to mindset and the different types of businesses we work with. Some really struggled and others flourished. Some found it tough, others found opportunities.
So here we were, working just as ever. No furlough for us. No deferred VAT returns. Luckily, in the main, business as usual. But please don’t get us wrong, times were challenging with lots and lots of changes and adapting to new ways of working.
July brought a new team member to Social Progress. Esther had announced her pregnancy just after lockdown in March and so we knew we needed to bring on a new team member to take over from Esther leaving in November 2020.
Enter Sophie Bebb (now Root)! Plus Bruce the dog. Adding to our office dogs. So we have Alex bringing Tiny in and Sophie bringing Bruce in but never on the same days. Sophie has her own business, fairandfunky which she runs with her business partner Helen Robinson. They work in schools delivering ethical and environmental workshops to school children. The pandemic had hit them hard and all work had stopped temporarily.
July also saw some of us back in the office. Not the whole team but as Janet, Sophie & Alex are all family members they felt safe to be together in the office environment. All the standard COVID safe measures were put in place. Hand sanitizers, desk spacings, temperature checks etc. And NO office visitors.
Oh and a BIG Birthday for Janet hitting the ripe old age of 60! Not the Birthday she had planned in her head but still very special and by the time you’re reading this everyone will have had at least one lockdown Birthday.
Summer sunshine and long walks. As we were all allowed out and about for exercise people took advantage of getting out and about on the warm balmy nights.
We had to postpone lots of planned activities and family gatherings but we could meet up in family gardens if it was under 6 people. BBQs a plenty with fire pits and beers.
A few more changes at Social Progress and another new part time team member joined us, Gemma Favager. But we knew from the start that it was only a temporary thing, as Gemma too has her own business, Gemma Favager Travel Counsellor. You can only imagine how the pandemic has affected Gemma’s business. We knew Gemma would be a great asset to the team, as was Sophie. They both ‘get’ social media from a business perspective with running their own respective businesses.
Gemma fitted in immediately. But then she was already known to Janet through BNI. They’re both BNI Terriers members and as it happens this year have worked closely together along with Lisa Darwin from Huddersfield Giants Community Trust on the BNI ‘top table’ (Leadership Team).
New clients coming on board, some clients leaving but then that’s just life. Esther started her mat leave a little early as she tagged the holiday she’d not been able to take onto the maternity leave period. So we wished her well with her last few weeks / months of pregnancy.
Another month of changes and still Janet, Alex and Sophie working from the office with Gemma working from home. Zoom catch ups, WhatsApp chats and the odd walk up into the village of Honley for Friday cakes from Wired Coffee and Cake. Well something has to keep our spirits up!
A new bundle of joy for Esther and her family. Little Lydia is born and all is well with the world. We all prepare for an uncertain Christmas. Will we be able to meet our families, will we not? Much as we’ve done for the past few months, we live with constant changes and uncertainty but we’re here and we’re battling through.
One day back in the office on Monday, 4th January then it’s back into full lockdown. Up tools and back to working from home for everyone. Back to weekly Zoom catch ups and WhatsApp chats. At least we’re connected and still smiling.
Vaccines are being rolled out and we can see light at the end of the tunnel. Janet gets her vaccine towards the end of the month from the lovely volunteers at Honley Village Hall. Things are starting to improve for all.
Here we are, full circle. A year like no other. We’ve had online quizzes, social distanced walks and talks. Zoom catch ups and social media training sessions. Office phones picked up and brought home. Remote working, checking out the backgrounds of others on Zooms and Teams (nice book case you have there)!
So a year to remember and tell our grandkids. “You don’t know you’re born. I remember 2020 when we couldn’t meet up or see our families.” BUT, lets not forget those we’ve lost too. If you’re reading this, we’re the lucky ones. Never take it for granted and keep safe, wash your hands, stay 2 meters apart and lets continue to help the NHS get through this!