A place to plan our 2020 vision stories.
What we learnt in the year that changed everyone’s lives
The phrase 20/20 vision means normal vision, explains J. Kevin McKinney, MD. “A person with 20/20 vision can see what an average individual can see on an eye chart when they are standing 20 feet away,”
This is how we have always viewed it: someone with normal vision.
But, now, could it also mean something different?
Could we now say that, with our 2020 vision, we are looking back on a year that changed the world. Instead of 20/20 meaning normal vision, perhaps 2020 is what we can use to help us see what is really important. 2020 is the year we learned how to adapt; the year we learned who and what is important; the year we learned to keep going, no matter what was thrown at us.
For me, and for some of my fellow 2018/19 fellowes, early in our social enterprises, we learned just how adaptable we are.
SSE and Graduation
After 1 year of SSE I graduated. My business offer changed halfway through the course from a family intervention to a Positive Psychology intervention. At the time of graduation I felt more confident in my abilities as a Social Entrepreneur and I had a vision of how I could bring positive psychology to a community.
Intention for 2020
I made a commitment to make 2020 the year that I focussed whole heartedly on my business. My offers were in place; Life Coaching, Laughter Yoga, Joy Workshops, and Fresh Air Fridays, which is a group coaching activity that takes part outdoors in nature. I had become a member of two networking groups and I had some peer support in place. I was keen to participate in promotional activities and had some booked in my diary. I was becoming more practiced at social media and so I was making good progress and raising awareness of my business.
On the day that lockdown was announced I ran a Fresh Air Fridays session that I had already planned, I didn’t know when I would be able to run the next one. I had a workshop planned for the following weekend and I was unable to run it in a physical space so a friend and I adapted it to an online workshop. This worked so well that we developed two 6 week positive psychology courses, Positive Psychology for Life Part 1 and Positive Psychology for Life Part 2. I transferred laughter yoga to an online session, which works well. Also, reflecting on a monthly theme while walking alone in nature and then sharing insights and observations online worked too.
As lockdown lifted I have continued to work online and I found it to be very effective. The advantage of working online is that I can reach so many people, in different parts of the country or even the world. We have been commissioned to run the positive psychology course by a mental health charity, which has been very rewarding With the help of a meditation teacher I have begun to practice meditation, something that is really useful in these anxious times. We have devised a short online programme which brings together an exploration of positive emotions, meditation and crystal healing. The way that I am providing my interventions has moved online and I am still enjoying the work that I love I observe and hear the way that positive psychology enhances people’s lives and making this difference is important to me. I teach positive psychology and I live it.
What has helped?
Recognising my strengths and playing to them has helped me manage this change.
I am adaptable and embrace change, my love of learning helps as I will persevere until I learn how to accomplish something. Being creative energises me and so does humour and having fun. Having regular peer support and life coaching/supervision sessions has kept me on track. I practice good self-care and self compassion.
Claire Crampton. Director and Counsellor for Hart Counselling CIC
SSE and Graduation
My time on the SSE course allowed myself and my colleagues to fully form the idea of a counselling social enterprise into a reality. The structure really helped me to view the service both as a business and a community service. Personally, as counsellor I found it a challenge to reconcile receiving remuneration to provide a mental health offering to others in need. By the time of graduation we had set up and offered over 150 sessions on a sliding fee scale in our community.
Intention for 2020
January 2020 brought the 1 year anniversary of our opening and a time to reflect on our growth and consider plans to build onwards. Up until this point we had been unable to receive financial support from local charity funds to offer sessions below our lower fee cap. We had hoped that by structuring fees in a way where clients could contribute, as a service we could charge our lowest fee and local charity funds could help by funding the gap between. However, to date we have not been able to fill this gap in our service offering. 2020 had also brought the opportunity to review our internal structure and working practices.
March brought so many unpredicted challenges, both professionally and personally.
Working in the field of mental health we are encouraged to reflect on our own needs, difficulties and triggers. It’s a very important element of the work, to be able to remain fully focussed on the ‘other’. Usually counsellors will not work with a ‘issue’ that remains raw or triggering for them. We are encouraged to engage with support through supervision for personal needs which may be raised when working with a client, for example experiencing personal bereavement while supporting an individual’s experience of loss. So, for a worldwide pandemic to affect everyone at the same time, albeit in very different ways I was left trying to understand myself, my family’s needs and also how I could ethically and professionally offer support to my existing clients and others who would now face many challenges and uncertainty.
Our service sadly lost use of it’s premises, which now I can see as a blessing given the limitations of face to face working, and we had a director resign causing many hours of consideration and administration time. Running a social enterprise is often recoginsed as a challenge, to be able to separate our passion and the practical needs from living a healthy balanced life outside of work. The early period of lockdown I especially found this a complicated balance to achieve, social enterprise tasks; therapeutic and business, part time job expectations, family needs (emotional and practical) and my own personal needs. I am lucky to work in a field that places heavy emphasis on self-care, therefore I utalised various networks at times of difficulty. Action Hampshire were very kind to offer practical advice which provided emotional reassurance also, I used my monthly supervision to ensure my clients remained the focus of the work and built a stronger bond with my colleague in the social enterprise. Family, friends and my dog helped me in so many other ways.
I also set up a online project called Healthy Heads in Hampshire, to utalise an online presence to try and show the variety of support structures available in our local area, this also allowed me to work with some of my School for Social Enterprise peers and highlight the fantastic services they offer.
Our counselling service is now running solely online offering a sliding fee scale and using the platform Zoom, we have found it a wonderful alternative to face to face work. This has taken a switching of processes in many ways, including additional training for myself and my colleague in working therapeutically in this way and also training around the various business considerations we have needed to make. I am proud of the achievements we gained through adapting, and that we have been able to offer therapeutic service to our community throughout the pandemic, having provided over 660 sessions since opening our doors.
What has helped?
Learning! I suspect at times it has been a welcome distraction, but learning keeps a spark alight and ignites fresh ideas in me which help to stoke the fires of motivation.
I think that being a social entrepreneur has a certain level of ability to adapt inherent as we are all looking at new ways to innovate.
I have recently begun a Neuroscience Masters which has come about from the numerous CPD opportunities I encountered when we switched to online study. Personally this is challenging and I will need to continue to lean on my friends, colleagues and professional support
Most important for my well being is the people I meet, the bravery of my clients, watching other professionals adapt and grow and the people I have been lucky enough to spend time with.
If I am well, I am in a better position to help grow the service and support our community.
Vie Portland, Founder of VieNess Discover You Love You CIC
SSE and Graduation
I loved participating in the SSE course. As well as learning so much from the facilitators, it was wonderful to spend so much time with other entrepreneurs.
Being on the course was confidence boosting in that it encouraged me to believe that I could run a “proper” business, a business that could benefit the community, a business that I was passionate about, a business I could grow.
Intention for 2020
My business was founded late June 2019. My plans for 2019 went, well, as planned. I spent months organising fundraising events and writing grant applications, as well as contacting schools and attending lots of networking groups, encouraging support of my CIC.
I had meetings scheduled in, where we set up dates for me to teach workshops in schools and groups; it was all very exciting! I had bookings for a school and a group on 16th March! Both paid! The first paid jobs!
Then lockdown happened. On 16th March. One job in a school got postponed until March 2021 (fingers crossed!) but, the other, in another community project, is precarious, as they aren’t sure they’ll get through this pandemic.
New plans had to be made.
Lockdown and now
I couldn’t do what I normally do, what I set up my business to do, during lockdown, and beyond, so I had to adapt.
Money has been very tight this year; donations have dropped off; fundraising is difficult; and grants have even harder specifications to meet, that I know many of us can’t apply for, which is difficult.
I thought about my “someday” list
There are lots of things that I had thought I would like to do for my business previously, had I been able to clone myself.
Now, was the time to actually do some of them.
First of all, I set up Zoom “Storytime with Vie”; twice weekly sessions where I read books around self esteem, kindness and acceptance, to children aged up to 8; I would read, we would discuss, then I would set a task for them to do, related to the book and encouraging them to explore some of their feelings around the book and its themes.
Just before lockdown, a writing coach offered to coach me for free as a beta tester for her book and because she believed I should establish myself as an expert in my field. I had several coaching sessions with her and started writing a book for adults. That’s a work in progress.
I’ve had the first two lines of a young children’s book in my head for several years; having the time to think about it, I actually wrote it this year. As well as being a story of imagination and acceptance, it’s about positive representation, which is integral to my work. It’s only in a very small percentage of books that children with a disability are represented, and, when they are, the stories are about their disabilities; my book isn’t like that. It’s been wonderful to get messages from people, saying how needed this book is, but, goodness, running a Crowdfunder campaign is tiring! It’s received great support but there’s still a long way to go.
Once this book is published, I have other children’s books to work on, too.
I have two decks of cards coming out soon, both with 30 cards in, each with an affirmation or quote on one side, and a task or question on the other; one box is on confidence and the other is on happiness.
In addition to this, I am writing a self esteem and confidence workbook for teenage girls.
I’ve also been attending lots of networking meetings, lots of seminars, and continued learning.
Lockdown has been busy!
What has helped?
It has really helped knowing that there is belief in my Community Interest Company; people frequently tell me how much what I do is needed, and I suspect, after so many months of scrutinising our own faces on Zoom calls, will be even more needed,
It has helped to learn how much I can adapt and how much I am capable of.
It has really helped to have the support of a few of my fellowes through all of this, knowing we’re all going through the same difficulties, and knowing that we will continue to support each other because we believe in each other.