All that Work…………

I firstly want to acknowledge what a rollercoaster 2020 was, from a business point of view, but also on a personal level. Having started 2020 with a new booking system and a strong core set of training courses, the bookings were starting to come in thick and fast, and it was an exciting time. There was definitely a buzz about the team as we started to strategise the next 12 months looking at marketing and even capacity with a view to a quick growth.

Then overnight it just stopped. Nothing but cancellations.

Having a strong value for adaptability/flexibility, I actually found that first week of cancellations an opportunity to think quickly and creatively, researching ways to deliver training online (we had only just heard of “Zoom”), and quickly rounding up trainers to discuss experience. We contacted organisations – some wanted to re-book the training face-to-face for in two weeks’ time, some expected it might be two months. No one expected it to be over a year.

What came next was a gruelling few weeks of contacting organisations and individuals to survey whether they wanted to wait for face-to-face or whether they wanted online training. The biggest response was that no one knew, everything went to a standstill. People were worried about job security, worried about too much screen time, worried about quality of training, worried about juggling other responsibilities at home – children, partners, pets – it was a world we had never experienced before and we did not know when it would end and return to “normal”.

It was a hard decision but we had to accept that there would not be any bookings for the foreseeable, the tone was not right to ask for organisations to pay for services when they were also experiencing the unknown. I took a step back and decided it would be best to be furloughed. This was hard for me, I am not a sit-back-and-wait type of person, but I knew it was the right decision. Working from home on a garden table in my kitchen, juggling kids, and a whole new experience of isolation was difficult, and the breather allowed me to re-assess.

The team had started to adapt some free online wellbeing sessions to support the community and this allowed us to learn and grow. On my return from furlough, we had space to really dig down into our training offer, opportunity to adapt, update, and create. We asked again what organisations and individuals wanted, and we were able to deliver based on their needs.

What we know is our trainers show openness and belonging throughout all of our training, and that kindness shines through in our online delivery.

Those values are embedded in everything we do, you cannot teach it, it’s natural, and it’s what makes us unique. The training we have developed is not just a blank screen of information, it’s experiential, it’s knowledgeable, it’s powerful, it’s kind, it’s adaptable. We have come a long way on our journey this year and what has been most important is how we have all pulled together to deliver what we do best, from building kind relationships, to allowing people to explore themselves and keep learning.

“The great sense of relaxed engagement and high level of extended warmth and understanding came across, even on Zoom!” Finding a Healthy Balance participant.

Although the rollercoaster has had its ups and downs, I am proud to say we are now on steady ground. We have stayed strong, adapting to our surroundings but without hanging our beliefs and who we are at Manchester Mind. We ended 2020/21 training over 700 participants on supporting their own wellbeing and supporting others in the workplace.

Danielle Partington, Training Manager