More than wealthMay 20 2020

Chief Executive Update – Mental Health Awareness Week

3 mins read

James Fleming

Chief Executive

During these uncertain and stressful times, Mental Health Awareness Week has never been so prevalent. The Mental Health Foundation carry out a campaign each year for one week in May, this year running from 18-24th May 2020, around a specific theme to bring awareness to millions of people each year.

This year’s theme is kindness, a simple but powerful word that offers nothing but a positive impact when it comes to emotional resilience, managing stress, personal confidence and building relationships whether with neighbours, friends, colleagues or family.

At Sandaire we have been working on running a strong and very personal campaign this week to show our support of this important initiative and asked members of staff for examples of random acts of kindness that they have either undertaken or received, or daily activities that have helped them to cope mentally during lockdown. I have highlighted below a poignant example from Operations Manager, Justine Harper, below –

Every few days I take a walk up to my local corner shop and I pass a man sitting on a deck chair in his front garden. I always say hello on my way past and have a little two minute chat. He thought it was hilarious that I came from Birmingham and he said that would explain my stopping to speak to him, as people from Birmingham will talk to anyone (which is true).  In a very short time I found out that he was furloughed, anxious about his job, too young to retire, but too old maybe to get another job. He was drinking more and unable to sleep and he lived alone. Our two minute chats are now ten. This has been obviously going on for some weeks now and the last time I went out to the shop he put an extra deck chair 2 metres away.

I suddenly realised how much it meant to me, as I am on my own in the house, luckily still have my job which keeps me busy all day, but apart from work meetings I don’t see or talk to anyone. I might not have the same problems as my new friend, but we are very similar, so I look forward to my meetings with him.

Justine Harper, Operations Manager

For me personally, I have coped mentally during this time by using my usual commuting time to take an early morning walk (roughly 7 miles a day). This helps me to get my exercise in for the day before the business of the day takes priority. I have also found that it helps me to clarify thoughts and bring focus to the day ahead.

Something that has been particularly occupying my thoughts throughout this time is ensuring the safety of our staff. In my update on March 17th I announced that all Sandaire staff would be working from home as of March 18th until further notice, in line with Public Health England advice.

In line with Government guidance we do not propose to change this in the short term and we will continue to work from home for the time being. We believe that this is the most appropriate environment for all Sandaire staff at this time and we will continue to offer a high level of service.

We are looking closely at the advice issued by the Government and the measures required to be in place for when the time comes for us to return to the office, to try and ensure a safe operating environment during this time when the Covid-19 virus continues to present a threat to personal health, as well as mental health.

In the meantime I would like to thank all Sandaire staff for their flexibility and resilience during this difficult period and am incredibly proud of the acts of kindness that I hear of, which rings true to the culture and values of Sandaire, as at its core we are a family business.