“Unprecedented times” is a term we have heard a lot over the last few months, and although clichéd it’s an accurate description of what we have all experienced. To mark the return of the magazine we thought we’d ask some friends of the magazine how they’ve coped over the last few months.
Sammy Ryan is a regular contributor to the magazine. She runs Strictly Organised, a professional service that helps you organise your life, from de-cluttering to managing your finances.
When lockdown was announced everything stopped for a period of time. My business involves visiting clients in their own homes, so it became impossible to continue. This had a significant impact on revenue, but I managed to access some of the government support that was available.
I took advantage of the time to take stock, and look at what I could do to improve the way I run the business. It allowed me to plan ahead, and also to make “infrastructure” improvements. I realised that the way I was working could be very stressful, and I looked at ways to reduce that stress going forward. Hopefully, I will come out of this experience both happier and healthier! Keeping in touch with other people has been a big help. I do a lot of networking in my job, and we continued online where possible. It was particularly useful to collaborate with others in my professional body (APDO) to work out how we would work with clients going forward. It was brilliant to be able to keep in touch with other local businesses too.
I have had a fairly positive experience, although there have been some challenges managing the care for my dad and another elderly relative who live some distance away, but everyone around them have been brilliant.
I’m conscious of trying to support local businesses, so have used small independents where possible for groceries and the local pub for takeout. I think that’s important going forward to help them get back on their feet.
I was lucky to be able to work for some business clients from home, and now am starting to visit clients once again, while observing strict social distancing protocols. It’ll be interesting to see what the future holds.
Val Compton is retired, although still very active in the community. Her main interest is The Waterfront Garden in Kennet Place, an award-winning community garden alongside the River Kennet.
As I am in the age group deemed most at risk, I followed the guidelines to the letter and stayed at home for the first few weeks of lockdown. I am so grateful for friends and neighbours who helped with my shopping. I soon realised how much inspiration I got from walking around the supermarket as my diet (which is gluten free and pre-diabetic anyway) became boring! Recently it has been good use the click and collect service, and also to visit Waitrose at the end of the day when I know it will be quiet.
I’ve enjoyed being able to continue with the garden, as it means I still see people who stop for a chat on their way past (at a safe distance). I noticed that people seemed to have much more time to appreciate the garden and wildlife, perhaps because they didn’t have to rush to be somewhere.
Although I live on my own, I’ve had lots of social contact with neighbours (again at a distance), and have kept in touch with people by phone and video. Other positives, mainly the extra peace and quiet, and slower pace of life; and the easy access to parking, which where I live is a nightmare usually. I’ve also been able to get lots of DIY done, which I’m really pleased about!
The biggest negative has been not being able to see my children, Dominic my son, is in a care home for people with learning disabilities, where they have had to be extra careful; and Jo, my daughter, has Multiple Sclerosis, so has been shielding. I’ve not seen Dominic as he’s been unable to visit, and have only briefly seen Jo a couple of times with precautions and no hugging!
Going forward I hope people will have a lot more respect for carers, and realise what an important job they do, both looking after the elderly and those with learning disabilities. It is a profession, and should be recognised as a skilled job.
Jane Goldstein runs Print Image, based in Wagon Yard. She offers design and print services for business and personal customers.
When lockdown came along custom completely dried up, but as a small business owner I didn’t stop working, it’s just not in my DNA. At the beginning of the year I had written a list of things I wanted to achieve in 2020, but like many others I suspect, I had to rip that up and start again.
I took the opportunity of the time I had to complete tasks that I didn’t usually have chance to get to – improving the website, streamlining my quoting and invoicing processes, looking at the range of services we offer and how they can be developed and so on.
I was on my own, and I found that a bit isolating, I missed having people around to bounce ideas off, but I really appreciated the space and time to think about and plan for the future. From mid-June work started to come back – it’s clear that other businesses had also used the time to plan, creating projects I could help with, for example rebranding a company.
I’ve found it good to keep in touch with others through video calling, I’m sure many people are familiar with the joys of Zoom! I’ve also joined a new networking group, which for the time being is running online, and am pleased to have found a really switched on bunch of people.
Tina Kelly runs Marlborough Pets on London Road, which has been open throughout the Coronavirus crisis
I was grateful that as a pet shop we were allowed to stay open during lockdown. I was quite nervous to start with, but wanted to continue for all my regular customers. My routine has been very much the same, with a lot of extra cleaning to ensure the shop is safe for customers.
Unsurprisingly the shop has been quieter, but it has ticked along and I can’t complain. People have been cautious, and many have phoned in advance and popped in to collect their order, making it quicker. It has been nice to see some new people in the shop who felt safer coming in to me, rather than facing a supermarket or bigger store. They have been pleasantly surprised to see the breadth of range we have and that we are often cheaper than the competition.
There has been less chance to chat, as people want to pop in and out, for safety, and also to make sure others don’t have to queue to get in the shop. But it’s been lovely to see people regularly, and have people just calling to see how I am – one customer even got me a present in appreciation which was amazing.
Bella, my dog who usually comes to work with me, has been staying home with my husband who has been furloughed from work as a lorry driver. She thinks she’s retired! Shaun has underlying respiratory problems, so we have to be careful – we’ve changed our lifestyle as being in contact with the public all day I’ve had to keep my distance. We’ve basically got half the house each and maintain distance to be on the safe side.
The hardest thing has been not being able to see family – it’s certainly made me appreciate all the things we took for granted before. I’m also less inclined to go out, and have realised I don’t miss shopping that much. It will be interesting to see if that continues into the future.
Pat Harper is a hypnotherapist, and also very active in the community
When lockdown hit, I didn’t work for the first six weeks, so I was keen to find ways I could be put to good use.
I joined the volunteer force put together by Claire Harris and team at the Town Council. They did a brilliant job of quickly putting together the scheme to help those unable to leave their homes.
When the Jubilee Centre in the High Street had to close, they started a brilliant meals-on-wheels service for vulnerable and elderly people who would normally have come to the Centre. Anne Hancock set the whole thing up from scratch, and has had tremendous support from volunteers as well as companies like Waitrose and Tesco. They are still delivering a three course meal every weekday, and still have capacity for more.
I’m a trustee for The Friends of Savernake Hospital and Community, and we helped to provide lunches for staff up at the hospital when their canteen had to close.. It was started by The Roebuck, and then Sue Brady catering provided a packed lunch for the staff each day funded by the Friends. They don’t need it anymore, but we are still providing tea and biscuits every week.
After the first 6 weeks I went back to working, but online, which has worked far better than I thought! There were a couple of tech hiccups, but once those were sorted it has been fantastic. So much so, I think I may carry on even when everything is back to normal. It’s great for clients as they are at home where they are comfortable, and don’t have to travel after a session.
Overall, I’ve been very lucky through this period, I’ve missed being able to see friends and family and have a hug, and will be glad when we can do things spontaneously rather than have to plan ahead all the time, but I’m so grateful to be living in lovely, supportive Marlborough.
Lindsay Barkholt runs the Kumon tutoring programme in Maths and English in Marlborough
At Kumon we had anticipated Lockdown, so had had time to prepare work in advance. The programme involves home learning anyway, so with a few changes we have been pretty much business as usual. The key change has been that we have moved from seeing children in person once or twice a week, to seeing them over Zoom (which I hadn’t even heard of before all this happened!).
I’ve had brilliant feedback from parents to say that Kumon has been a lifesaver, as it has given children continuity and consistency. I’ve also had new students join the programme in younger and older age groups, because they and parents like the structure and support of the programme.
It’s been a juggle managing home-schooling my children (age 10 and 7) and work. My husband works in the food industry and he has been working as normal throughout, so I’ve just had to move around the hours I work ensure everyone gets the attention they deserve. I’ve started working on a Saturday so I can get some work done while my husband has the children.
Workwise I’m really pleased with how we’ve managed to keep the interaction with children and parents going over this period. From a personal point of view, it has been lovely spending more time with the kids. We’d planned to get a puppy before the pandemic hit, and we now have a five month old Australian Labradoodle who has been a great distraction for the children, and a nice positive to focus on. They’ve managed remarkably well, and have kept in touch with friends via Zoom etc. They both recently went back to school for a couple of days, and really enjoyed it.
Like a lot of people, the biggest downside for us has been not being able to see friends and family in person. My dad is still shielding, and we had to cancel a trip to Denmark to see my husband’s family at Easter, which was a real shame. We are really grateful though that overall the experience has been fairly positive, we know not everyone has been so lucky.