By Brender Willmott – Beach Rangers Academy Leader.
It’s hard to know where to start when talking about something that has had such a huge impact on all of our lives but I wanted to share my thoughts about how it’s made me feel and what it might mean for the future.
Initially working from home was a challenge in many ways – when my job is almost 100% about talking to and working with people, personally, suddenly being at home and isolated made my job feel impossible – we all know that personal interaction and social and emotional intelligence are impacted hugely when we have to communicate through emails, online platforms and the telephone. It’s so much harder to read what people actually mean when you don’t have direct access to the huge % of communication that is nonverbal – tone of voice, body language etc
Initially it was a real struggle as everything we do for Your Shore Beach Rangers had to be moved online so we could continue our engagement through lockdown. Meetings and delivery became digital, with a huge focus on Social Media and a whole new set of challenges were thrown up.
Challenge one for me was reconciling my personal concerns about encouraging young people in particular, who are my target market, to spend additional online. Given they were initially being taught online and having to live their social lives online, this seemed a step too far but the one that enabled us to continue to engage and deliver meaningful and relevant content.
Challenge two was to try and learn to use these platforms which I use infrequently. However much as I may have a bit of an aversion to social media I can always see the personal benefit of learning a new skill: it’s good to keep the brain working and the sense of achievement when you crack it, is definitely good for the soul! Don’t think I’ll ever reconcile myself to being a social media whizz though.
Challenge three was recognizing that there would be good and bad days (only a few bad ones luckily), difficulties with communication, misunderstandings and being super productive on some days and not so much on others… but that’s allowed too! We all need to be kind to ourselves on those days and be aware of others and their needs too, family, work colleagues and friends. Interestingly for me, the little, kind things people have done were my downfall but it’s ok to let go and indulge in some tears and self-care. I tried to focus on how lucky I am to be living here in Cornwall compared to those in inner cities in apartments with no garden and limited space. Thank goodness for technology too so that I could see my children, albeit on a screen … it felt as if my 3 month old grand-daughter would be off to university before I managed to cuddle her again but at least I could see her and for her this way of communicating will be normal – not the new normal that most of us are having to get used to.
Challenge four for me was the thought of where would we go moving forward? How do we move forward without going backwards? The thought of being in large groups was and still is quite frankly, terrifying! I felt that the bubble I was living in was safe and protected and now I am having to consider how to cope with the anxiety of interacting with people that I don’t know and who are or are not are observing bubbles, social distancing, hygiene requirements etc. For me it has been about mitigating and managing risk and trying to do positive things to ease that sense of panic.
And there have been some real positives that this pandemic has brought about. It’s been so good to see how local suppliers have risen to the occasion and how people have supported them – long may it continue!! Farm shops and suppliers and fishermen have seen huge interest in their produce! Also the environment has thrived with less pollution; it’s so lovely to see and hear more birds and see more wildlife thriving. People are making more of an effort to walk, cycle, stay fit, cook from scratch, craft, bake and support and be kind to others in numerous ways – all good for our well-being and real life skills that hopefully don’t fall by the wayside as we move forwards. I also wonder if there will be a huge growth in the number of people home schooling – some people seem to be really enjoying spending more time with their children and are really getting into teaching – others definitely not !!!
It’s been fascinating to see how the world is responding to the new challenges that coming out of COVID is bringing. Some people are embracing a new way, others seem determined to revert to the old but let’s hope that we take the best of both and see a future filled with positivity!
When I started writing this in May 2020 I couldn’t imagine that we would find ourselves in October trying to work our way through a new kind of normal for work situations and our lives in general. Looking back and considering where we were and the difficulties that seemed so paramount then, I think it’s amazing that so many people have responded to the challenges they faced positively and worked hard to rebuild their businesses, start new enterprises, adapt and adjust every aspect of their lives to work with the changing rules and regulations.
For me personally I am so enjoying re-engaging with my team, my trainers, schools, colleges and groups in a blended way, with some online meetings and some face to face, some very socially distanced, Covid secure delivery alongside some digital sessions.
I think it will be interesting to reflect on this experience again in a few months and see how we are feeling once we have dealt with the technological trials and tribulations that arise when delivering to groups on line; when we have got used to living our socially distanced masked lives and the impacts that has made on face to face delivery. And all of this alongside of the huge changes in our daily and family lives – let’s just see…..meanwhile back to planning on TEAMS and ZOOM and Google Meets!!