Lockdown has affected us all in different ways. The complete change of life that was thrown upon us all without really any warning was a huge thing for us all to come to terms with. Our feelings and thoughts changed on a daily and weekly basis. Sometimes by the minute. Being in limbo, reinventing ourselves and our lives and coming to terms with the restrictions that the virus put upon us all.
From cooking with Jamie Oliver and ordering everything online so that we didn’t have to venture out into the super markets. Ordering herbs online to plant and creating a holiday area in the garden so that the restrictions felt positive instead of negative were some of the things that we managed well.
Trying to help the NHS with PPE was a struggle as answers to my emails were not received from the cabinet office. We then heard from Kate Hills at Make it British that they were only looking at companies who would produce 5000 units per week minimum. As a small company this was not something that we could do in our small set up.
Desperate to still be able to help in whatever way we could we managed to find ‘Scrub Hub’, a website where volunteers from all around the nation could form groups to be able to make scrubs for their local NHS and care providers free of charge and from their own homes. The organisers had set the template for the order forms, face book pages, volunteer application forms and ‘Go Fund Me’ page for donations so that we could purchase fabrics. Simple and fabulous, Rachel and Trina volunteered their time to help me set up Scrub Hub Ashington and were able to start making scrubs for our local care workers. It has been lovely being able to do something, even on a small scale like this, to help.
To keep our staff safe we have been very fortunate to be able to tap into the furlough scheme so that our staff can stay at home to avoid contact with others. Our customers have been very understanding allowing us to do this and having the patience to wait for their order to be completed in the extended time of 21-28 days.
Edith’s retirement date came and went in the lockdown, Edith has been with me from the start of setting up my own factory. She has been key in helping me set up the factory, working out the manufacturing processes and timings and in training the sewing machinists. She felt after Christmas, she now wanted time to do her own thing, which is totally understandable. It was strange not having a leaving do. We have always celebrated everything here from birthdays to awards and achievements. It’s something we will have to do when the lock down lifts and something to look forward to. Some things can’t be done on Zoom.
I did not go onto the furlough scheme for the second block of 3 weeks. I have been in to work each day. I answered emails, sent fabric swatch sample packs and spoke to you lovely lot on the phone when you called for help or enquired. The amount of support that has been available to us as a company and to me as a business leader has been phenomenal and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for the calls and emails and texts to see how I am and the offers of support.
My time in the empty factory was spent having a total clear out, and when I say total I mean it! Every cupboard and filing cabinet, every storage area and work station were sorted, cleaned and reorganised.
The whole process was really quite therapeutic, a cleansing process and the feeling of a new start, similar to moving house or moving business premises.
By the end of the 3 week furlough period the entire factory had been completely cleared and reorganised and was gleaming from top to bottom.
In reflection the lockdown has enabled us all to create a new start for a new world, one which I hope will be a better place for us all, with respect playing a major role in our decision making. It has shown us that we need to look after each other and the planet. The consequences of not doing this will be dire.
New beginnings mean time for change and change for the better I hope.
Time to think of the new ways we can do things, to reinvent how we structure our days and our time. To really look at our values and question what we choose to do.
I’ve personally enjoyed the experience of having time to think and understand what it is that we do and how we can better ourselves and our environment and I hope that the new world will be one that we can all flourish in, in a respectful and thoughtful way.