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How can you start a business during a recession?

Has the entrepreneurial class of 2020 been spending their time in lock down making the next household name? In the US an astonishing 67,160 applications were filed to set up new companies in the last week of May and that was a 21% rise to the same week in the previous year of 2019. In a time when you can’t get finances and you’re trying to get customers when there is no demand, use this as a motivational aspect as being faced with challenges from the start will make your organisation resilient. As a result of a corona virus a recession for most countries is fast approaching and with a shift in the way we live, new business ideas to fit the new needs of customers could mean you becoming the hottest new entrepreneur on the block.

Success stories in economic downturn

Disney

Ah Disney whether it’s visiting Disneyland or watching Cinderella for the 50th time – whether you’re a male or female, 60 or 6, the fun-loving brand was built to instantly puts a smile on your face. During one of the worst financial crises in history of the world – the 1929 great depression. During the great depression Walt Disney Productions created cartoons to bring happiness to those suffering from the economic crisis, during this period they made around 1.25 million and they positioned themselves as a form of comfort and an outlet for people who were struggling.

Groupon

During the major financial crisis in 2007-2008 a young entrepreneur from Chicago created this platform to help people enjoy anything from day trips to getting a haircut at a discounted price. As the industry took a hit the website helped retailers promote their brands through offering cheaper deals and this meant they were a pioneer in the market as they were a new form of online retail.

 

 

 

Microsoft

Apple’s direct competitor and arguably the most recognisable brand in the world, Microsoft was created during the 1970’s oil crisis which caused a 16-month recession. Paul Allen and Bill Gates set up the tech giant Microsoft and within a decade it made the pair billionaires which went on to them creating Windows, Office, Xbox, Outlook and many other products which have become a part of our everyday lives for many of us. Last year the company had exceeded the £100bn valuation and is now not just one of the worlds leading tech companies but globally recognised company in the world.

Whatsapp

At the back end of the most recent financial crisis the former Yahoo exec’s created the app as a means of messaging people all over the world for free in real time. It was launched on iOS and became one of the systems most downloaded apps. After five years it was founded in 2014 the app was sold to Facebook for a whopping £15.5bn – just a few penny’s then?

 

Steps to success

 

Identify a need

Air b n b was created because the founders identified that people wanted affordable accommodation without long term commitments and then the company emerged as a cheaper flexible alternative to hotels and by 2011 the global organisation was valued at more than $1 billion. Something I learnt from my marketing degree is to position your business to emerging customer needs, we’ve seen due to lock down the country and people worldwide have been using video conferencing applications for business conferences and family quizzes – what has this meant for apps like zoom? Due to a new socially distanced world the video conferencing app is now worth more than the worlds 7 biggest airlines with the market value of $42bn which has boomed during the lock down period.

Find your niche

Before putting time and effort into a business assess the world around you and listen the issues that friends, family face and what’s on the news think about the questions that currently aren’t being answered. Adapting is something that we’ve had to do globally to fit our new normal of social distancing so this is also what you should do with your business aka adapt to the new needs of customers.

Reach your audience

Lock down has highlighted more than ever how important strengthening connections between people really harnesses an online presence, intimacy through online connections is the new normal as during lock down that’s all we’ve had. The body coach aka Joe Wicks started his health and fitness business purely through Instagram which was free and managed to make £5.5 million last year.

Whether you’re positioning your brand to be the next market leader or starting up a local café.. believe in your dream, have passion and set yourself realistic goals – you’ll do great.

 

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

Let’s talk loneliness

Now more than ever as the nation who have been self-isolating, we are getting an insight into what some people’s lives are like daily regardless of the current situation. Companionship is important and even though we all need some alone time, having people that reach out and care for you gives a sense of belonging.

A report from the office of national statistics found that 5.0% of people in Great Britain (2.6 million adults) felt lonely ‘often’ and ‘always’ when the country got put into lock down – however these are similar figures to those taken before the lock down was put in place. 30.9% (7.4 million adults) reported their well being had been affected through their feeling lonely in the last 7 days.

Detached Britain

London, our beloved capital city that’s probably known by tourists as one of the coolest cities in the world full of afternoon tea, people in suits and not to mention our infamous tourist attractions. However, the novelty of our English culture wears off pretty quick for some of us Brits as it’s also known for being fast paced and detached. Around 2 million people travel on the London underground every day and I can say from experience of living in London – conversation is not the priority of these busy commuters. When living in London I described it to my friends as ‘lonely’, lonely because most of the time you feel invisible, lonely because the fast paced nature of the city has diminished a possible personable morale that is more common in ‘friendlier’ places like Yorkshire.

Maybe it’s time for change? We are in the midst of a loneliness pandemic and people that may have not felt lonely before may understand now more than ever how difficult it can be. Prior to covid-19 research from the British cross found one fifth of the population said they are always or often lonely, i.e. loneliness has always been a problem, but this pandemic has heightened the importance of having a companion. An article published by the independent this time last year for national loneliness awareness week documented an experiment attempting to start conversations with strangers on the tube, after five days the writer Olivia didn’t manage to sustain a single conversation with anyone longer than 30 seconds – talking to strangers on the tube isn’t the cure to the loneliness crisis however taking longer than a minute to talk to someone could help them more than you would even imagine.

How can we make a difference?

Recognising that someone is lonely is one of the first steps to helping them find belonging which may be hard as you may not want to admit that one of your loved ones is lonely as you may feel guilty. Never be afraid to ask someone if they’re alright Be there because simply being there for someone lets them know you care, be patient as quite often with people that feel lonely and isolated just like many of us in quarantine they may get irritable and feel misunderstood by others so encourage and support them by informing them they may need some new social connections or access services that are in place to tackle loneliness.

London is Lonely

This Sunday, 23rd June 2020 the minister for Loneliness Mims Davies is holding an exhibition called ‘London is Lonely’ showcasing the audio stories and photos showcasing the extent of loneliness taking over the city. To start getting over this loneliness crisis we need to get over the stigma around loneliness, the exhibition invited visitors to think about their role and how we can make more of a connected world. Whether you live in London or not there is loneliness that is affected people’s mental and physical state. Last night I asked my housemate “What is your biggest fear in life? She replied “Being alone” – don’t let this fear become the reality for an increasing number of people.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

 

 

Life on lock down: The anxiety of re-entering society

There are numerous articles/ blogs on coping mechanisms during lock down – now with restrictions being slowly lifted we thought some guidance on how we can manage life AFTER lock down would be beneficial for our readers. The announcement that we could only leave our houses once a day for exercise was almost three months ago now, for some of us this may have gone mind numbingly slow, for others including myself the announcement feels like yesterday. As humans we’ve all managed to adjust to the new normal in our own four walls, in the past month we’ve seen slight easings of lock down as to begin with the advisory slogan went from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’, then we were allowed to meet up outside in groups of 6 and go over to one another’s houses. As of Monday non-essential shops are opening and if all goes well restaurants, pubs and hairdressers will reopen in July, these are positive steps as it shows all our efforts of isolating from normality has paid off however this may cause a tsunami of anxiety for some – which is completely normal. Whilst many of us are eagerly waiting for restrictions to be lifted the prospect of a ‘new normal’ can also bring on some anxieties. This is evident in a recent poll by Ipsos MORI found 67% of British people feel uncomfortable attending large public gatherings, music and sporting events compared to how they felt before the virus and 3 in 5 Brits are sceptical of going to bars and restaurants or using public transport again.

How has mental health taken a hit?

We haven’t been through anything of the sort in the recent past and it’s too early to know what the long lasting mental effects of corona virus are but unfortunately our immune systems can’t fight the mental struggles that have come with lock down. A study by the mental health charity ‘Young Minds’ found 80% of young people who has a history with mental health problems said they found their conditions worsened since the corona virus outbreak began. The link between mental health and poverty has been recognised for many years prior to this pandemic, and with a large number of businesses putting staff on furlough or letting them go this can cause problems that may have not be there prior to the pandemic. Research from the mental health foundation found one fifth of people survey have had suicidal thoughts and suicidal thoughts in the last two weeks – compared to 8.64% of people in employment.

 

How we can manage with the anxiety of re-entering society

Go at your own pace

One of the reasons why lock down may have been so mentally challenging at the beginning is because unlike the lifting of lock down it was sudden so therefore we had to abruptly stop our normal day to day lives and create a new ‘ at home’ routine. Just because we are able to go into groups of 6 outside of our households doesn’t mean you have to do so straight away , a good way to ease yourself back into society is meeting up with one or two friends out of your household to familiarise yourself with others. If your office reopens but you can still work from home build up your attendance in the office and slowly re-establish a routine that you are comfortable with. If you don’t have control on when you return to work i.e. you can’t work from home put measures in place that make you feel as comfortable as possible that you can voice it to your employer, communication is really key here.

 

Focus on what you can control

Through the whole of this pandemic it has been uncertain and unfortunately a worldwide pandemic is something we can’t control as individuals, so it goes without saying if you’re anxious about catching the virus then focus on following the government guidelines. If you picked up something to focus on during lockdown – whether this is exercise or cooking don’t stop this as it’ll be a while until we can make excuses for ‘not having time’ for these activities. If you have been unfortunate enough to have lost your job focus on how you can enter the working world again, build a strong social profile by making connections in your chosen industry through platforms such as LinkedIn.

Teach

We’re all in this together and this pandemic has highlighted the importance of friends and family more than anything so let’s work together to share coping mechanisms/strategies. Most importantly remember you won’t be the only one that’s feeling anxious about attempting to go back to what used to be our normal again – so don’t panic this feeling isn’t permanent.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

 

Volunteering: It’s a win win

If you’re anything like myself the ‘tell us about yourself’ question that gets asked in interviews can be one of the toughest questions to answer as selling yourself can be challenging – because how do you prove this in an interview? It’s drilled into us at school, college and University that we need to sell our positive, commendable traits through words such as ‘proactive’ and ‘diligent’ – however realistically the word on it’s own in meaningless if you can’t prove this.

Now more than ever people not just in our country but worldwide have really seen the importance of being kind and how rewarding helping others can be. In the middle of April over a million UK citizens signed up to volunteer to help the NHS and others during the peak of this invisible killer. With the majority of the nation staying at home people have evidently felt they could do more with the new- found free time– which has not gone unnoticed. For some of us we may come out of this on the other side with a clearer image of how to prioritise the important things life, and in aid of national volunteering week this could be doing activities that provides service for others whilst at the same time being self-rewarding. One of the main reasons why people don’t volunteer for charities or non – profit organisations is because they either ‘don’t have time’ or don’t see the financial benefit that they would get from a paid job. In October 2019 the BBC reported that there was over 60,000 children on the waiting list to join scouts due to the vast shortage of volunteers wanting to be leaders and in June 2017 the UK was in need of public services volunteers to fill the gaps which had the value of over £23 billion.

 

How can volunteering help your career?

Recent research from SEEK found 92% of employers said relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in interviews, 85% of employers believed that volunteer work was just as credible as paid work. Volunteer experience demonstrates personality traits that are hard to convey through your CV, and just like how employees want to work for ethically in line organisations – employers also want socially responsible employees. I can say from personal experience when it came to filling in the ‘volunteer experience’ on my CV I felt ashamed to say the only thing I had to offer was the charity shop work I did to gain my Duke of Edinburgh bronze award which was compulsory.

 From a recruitment perspective someone’s grades, experience and achievements are strong deciding factors, but it doesn’t show who that person is i.e. What are you passionate about? It can be difficult to portray your full personality through a 2-page CV so taking part in activities that have made you feel rewarded and fulfilled really puts a personality to the piece of paper.

Why should you volunteer?

To get an insight into why volunteering is something that should be something to put time and effort into, I interviewed a recent graduate who has heaps of voluntary experience both in England and in countries such as Botswana and Israel. She stated the main aspect of volunteering is the rewarding factor knowing that you’re making a difference to someone else’s life. “You see the change; you see the good and you feel the good.” Instead of getting paid with money you’re getting paid with the sense of accomplishment. During her time in Botswana, she helped build a playground and gave food and water to different villages. “When you see how grateful the children are that’s the reward.” I then asked what her opinion as to why there may be a shortage of volunteers, “People don’t deem it as work because it’s for free, but it really shows you have a passion for something”.

Whether it’s overseas, or in your local charity shop, volunteering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself and help future employers learn more about you.

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

 

A lack of motivation?

In light of mental health awareness week here in the UK, I thought it was fitting to talk about the term ‘motivation’. My friends and I have been using this word a lot recently as we’ve had a lack of it. Stress and grief may be two of the consequences of lockdown for many of us and as we’re all incredibly individual – it means we all have our own ways of coping. With still no real end date to this confined madness this makes it difficult to find motivation during this period as there is no significant change happening.

Why are we losing motivation in Lockdown?

Anxiety – The impact of the lockdown on businesses has been immense as even with the business interruption loans announced at the beginning of lockdown by Rishi Sunak – millions of people are still now unemployed. This has driven anxiety up as people are fearful of being laid off or furloughed with a minimum of a 20% pay cut. This provokes the fight or flight mode in people as some may work harder as there’s a lot at risk however for some of us it may have a negative affect – anxiety can be the biggest killer for motivation so workers fears should be eased where possible.

Environment – Whilst there are a lot of people that are used to working from home as one of its traditional advantages is increased productivity – for those who thrive in office environments this can have the opposite effects. There has been talks not just In the UK but worldwide of there being a permanent shift to remote working, which is beneficial for the company saving money but the employees well being should be put to the forefront of any long term business strategy.

Distractions – During this time stranded indoors, the temptation to be distracted increases. When motivation levels are already low, we are more likely to turn our attention to non-urgent tasks such as housework, errands, and odd jobs: the psychological trick of still feeling fulfilled by keeping busy in order to avoid tackling the issues at hand.

Lack of ‘reward’ – While we thrive on routine, we are used to rewarding ourselves with trips to the cinema, meals, nights out and holidays. The great aspect of Great Britain is our freedom, the ability to plan holidays, take the afternoon to go shopping, enjoy a treatment at a spa. All those things that we work hard all year for so we have the ability to treat ourselves have been taken away and the urgency to carry out tasks have become tedious.

How we battle through

Plan for the future- Working, living and sleeping in the same space can trigger feelings of resentment. If you’re noticing a lack of interest towards your work it might be a good idea to question why you chose the career path you’re on, or even consider going to places you’ve never been before to travel – this pandemic has highlighted life is short so we should live it to the fullest.

Discuss goals- Even when we don’t know how the next twelve months will pan out, it’s crucial to maintain a sense of hope and create plans to stick on the near/distant future. These can be short term plans like reducing your screen time by the following week, or long- term plans for example just like Logical you can plan company parties/ trips once restrictions are lifted. Share goals with each other, whether it’s buying a property, running a marathon, or developing a new skill. This crisis is prohibiting a lot of things at the moment, so sharing our hopes and ambitions will inspire people to look beyond the present time and towards a brighter future.

Be strict with sleep – A letter addressed to UK residents written by an Italian resident at the end of March stated “You will not sleep well” .. and they were correct. However, when the days are all we’ve got having enough sleep really is paramount as whilst we’re at home we have the tendency to indulge in box sets and eat and drink into late hours. Approach sleep like you would a normal working say and preparing uncluttered space, switching off screens (get off Tik Tok), read a few pages of your book and stick to a ‘lights out’ time. Sticking to a consistent sleeping pattern will help you feel more energised and hopefully make time pass quicker.

We’re all human and it’s normal to have periods of time where there is a lack of motivation, however this isn’t permanent so don’t be too hard on yourself. Take this time to reflect and come out of lockdown with your priorities in check.

 

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

Not all hero’s wear capes

One in ten nursing jobs in the UK are unfilled, two obvious solutions to the staffing crisis for nursing would be to train more nurses and retain more staff but how can we expect people to want to join the profession if they’re working long hours to get underpaid?

This week is international nursing week, and in the current circumstances the efforts of nurses globally who risk their lives daily have shown how truly selfless you have to be. It is not breaking news here in the UK that there is a nursing crisis due to nurses getting vastly underpaid in comparison to how much patients lives rely on them and how many hours they work. Nursing is not just a job it is a vocation as what you do day to day transforms people’s lives. One of the reasons children may not aspire to be a nurse is because of how the role can tug on your emotional heart strings, however this doesn’t take away from the fact the job is highly rewarding and a challenging career in which you can really thrive. The under staffing crisis has really been highlighted during COVID-19 as students have been sent to work early on the front line with some not even getting paid and retired nurses coming back to work because of the high demand.

Time for change

I recently read a quote stating “If doctors are the rock stars then the nurses are the crew”- apart from the difference in pay this could not be more incorrect. At the beginning of this year a study conducted by the royal college of nursing, found the old-fashioned view that caring for others is a ‘feminine characteristic’ continues to be apparent in our British society even today – which has led to the restraining of nurses’ wages and working conditions for many generations.

Researchers warned the nursing shortage will continue to get worse if pay for nurses is not improved. While one in nine nursing jobs are left empty, a third of the profession are due to retire by 2026 – i.e. we are in need of a next generation of nurses. The report, discovered nurses routinely have to turn their hand to responsibilities which would have previously been the role of doctors, despite earning an average of £15.42 per hour – less than a third of the amount earned by doctors and dentists. Although nine out of ten nurses in the UK are women, they take home on average 17 per cent less than men in similar roles every week. Female nurses also hold less than a third of senior positions.

It is the year of 2020 and there is still a gender bias and pay gap with nurses being underpaid whilst risking their lives on a daily basis and even more so during Covid-19. Over 100 NHS workers have sadly died on the front line due to the virus. The country should see this as a lesson and provide nurses with the pay and support that they deserve. Thank you to our Nurses and NHS workers on the frontline- you are our superhero’s.

 

Written by Sophia Ghahramani

 

Go ahead, I’m listening…..

In a weird way we’ve all come to terms with the fact our phones can track our whereabouts, what we’re searching and even what we’re texting and verbally speaking to our friends and family. The reason I think this article is so relevant is because I have personally found in the past month in self-isolation my phone has tailored my news feed on all platforms but specifically Tik Tok, I have started intermittent fasting and on my news feed this then came up with video’s of girls that are posting content to do with ‘what I eat in a day’ of which is far below the amount of calories a healthy 21 year old should be eating. Luckily for me, I know to ignore content like this and not let it influence my lifestyle choices however what about a 14 year old girl recovering from an eating disorder?

The tech generation

I’m 21 years old and there’s even a massive difference between me and someone below the age of 16 as technology has developed immense amounts in the past 10 years. I was 9 years old when I got my first phone which was a Nokia brick with the soul function of playing snake as I had no numbers in my phone to call. Now devices have become a fundamental part of teenagers’ lives, according to a study the majority of children in the UK own a mobile phone by the age of 7, by the age of 11 90% of the children that were surveyed had their own device and phone ownership was ‘almost universal’, 39% of children said they couldn’t live without their phone, 44% of children said they would uncomfortable if they didn’t have phone signal they would feel uncomfortable. A report by Childwise found children spend about three hours 20 minutes a day messaging, playing games and being online per day – are the days of ‘playing out’ over? The moment a child owns a phone it’s hard to constantly monitor what is being exposed to them on the internet because it becomes a very private piece of technology – so how can we protect people of a vulnerable age getting influenced by content posted that’s tailored through behavioural tracking?

It starts with education

How to deal with online bullying does get touched on in our education system however what about the indirect forms of mental abuse that advertising can cause? Kids in this day and age are surrounded by AI technology as algorithms determine what information they see, help select the video’s they watch and shape how they learn and talk. Technology that can dictate what you see to this extent opens dangerous doors for pre-teens that are easily influenced, therefore it’s best for them to understand how these technologies work so they can navigate and consume them in the safest way possible.

Why educate our children about AI?

There are three reasons why we need to educate children around AI technology; economic, societal and vulnerability reasons. Studies have shown that exposing children to technical concepts stimulates problem solving and critical skills which in turn could result in them learning computational skills in the future which could also close the gender gap in technology ie. the male dominance. As we’ve all experienced the pre-teen/teen years of our lives are critical for creating our identity and development, therefore teaching girls about technology could make them more likely to want to pursue a career in the subject later on in life which could diminish the male ‘nerdy’ stereotype in the industry created by pioneers such as Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg ie. broadening the tech industry.

Finally, there’s the vulnerability argument. Young people are more impressionable so the ethical risks that come with tracking behaviour and using it to design more addictive experiences are heightened for them which could harm their privacy and long- term development.  Therefore, our education system should teach children of all ages how to become resilient to tailored messages, video’s and advertisements through breaking down how AI technology works. AI is only going to develop even further so the sooner it’s embedded into education the more resilient the next generation of pre-teens/teens will be towards the mental problems that could arise through behavioural tracking.

 

Written By Sophia Ghahramani

 

 

“It is in times of crisis that great leaders emerge”

It’s Wednesday which means we’re talking about women! This would typically be related to revolutionary women in technology – however given the current climate the efforts of female leaders around the world during this pandemic cannot go unnoticed. As of yesterday, New Zealand officially announced that they’ve stopped the wide spread of the virus and the tough lock down restrictions are scheduled to be eased. New Zealand has their premier Jacinda Ardern along with the rest of the government to thank, Arden has truly shown assertive leadership skills as the country have recorded as little as 18 deaths since the first infections started showing in early March. Ardern imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country on 14th March and implemented a strict lock down two weeks later, when fewer than 150 people had been infected and none had died. The UK went into lock down 37 days ago on 23rd March and the first cases in the UK were at the end of January so it’s safe to say we acted a lot slower on our lock down than countries like New Zealand.

Whilst plenty of countries with male leaders such as Vietnam, the Czech Republic, Greece and Australia have dealt with corona virus effectively – few countries with female leaders have dealt with the corona virus crisis badly and this should be praised. Ardern, 39, has shown the world that true leadership is sympathy, love and integrity. She has been seen as holding her nations hands through the lock down, delivering personal, empathetic “stay home, save lives” video messages from her couch and communicating daily through non-antagonistic press conferences and intimate Facebook Live videos, which in true modern style is her favourite medium. Her insistence on saving lives whilst keeping her kindness – urged New Zealanders to look after their neighbours, take care of the vulnerable, and make sacrifices for the greater good with a strong emphasis on shared responsibility which has united the country and won her many fans not just from New Zealand but from all over the globe.

Public trust in Arden’s labour government is greater than 80%, whereas in the UK less than two in five people trust our government to get us through this crisis in the most effective manner as a survey by the Opinium for the observer found only 36% of UK residents have trust in our government according to the opinion poll.

Being clear and concise

In Denmark, Mette Frederiksen, acted equally firmly, closing the Scandinavian country’s borders as early as 13th March, and a few days later all kindergartens, schools and universities were shut, and gatherings of more than 10 people were banned. That sharp decisiveness appears to have spare Denmark the worst of the pandemic, with fewer than 8,000 confirmed cases and 370 deaths. Frederiksen’s no-punches-pulled speeches and clear instructions to the nation have been widely praised. The country’s youngest-ever prime minister, whose approval ratings have doubled to more than 80%, has now begun easing its lock down. Unlike most other PM’s she even managed to show a fun side, posting a clip on Facebook of herself doing the dishes while singing along to the 1980’s Danish pop stars Dodo and the Dodos during the nation’s weekly TV lock down singalong – the British version would probably Boris Johnson singing along to the Spice Girls, which probably would have gone down like a led balloon with the British public!

Finland’s PM, Sanna Marin – who last year became the world’s youngest head of government at 34 years old – also moved decisively to impose a strict lock down, including a ban on all non-essential travel in and out of the Helsinki region. This has helped her country contain the spread of the virus to just 4,000 cases and 140 deaths.

 

 

Iceland’s PM Katrín Jakobsdóttir, has offered free testing to all citizens, not only those with symptoms, and has recorded 1,800 cases and 10 deaths. Some 12% of the population has taken up the offer, and a tracing system has meant the country has not had to close schools.

Female leaders such as these are modern day pioneers for breaking the stereotype that people in power need to a certain age or gender. When the world gets back to normality, these leaders should be introduced to young people through education as role models as they have achieved greatness through staying true to who they are and their values. Jacinda Ardern, the youngest PM of the last 150 years, the first PM to deal with a terrorist attack, volcanic eruption, climate change reforms and a pandemic all in 1 term whilst carrying her now new born child – these are female leaders of today that should be the role models of tomorrow.

 

Written By Sophia Ghahramani

Will the current climate change our ways?

Today marks the 50th anniversary of world earth day, first established on 22nd April 1970 and since then the threats to our planet have only grown in severity. Today we celebrate world earth day during a global pandemic, where day to day activities have been put to a holt worldwide and the earth has been stripped of its added necessities’ such as cars and planes emptying our streets and skies.

The pandemic has come after a time of environmental emergency as in the last quarter of 2019 the Amazon Rainforest fires increased by 84% which raised alarming awareness of our climate crisis through a social media frenzy with celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio becoming an advocate for saving our planet. Then came the Australian bush fires as they spread at a rapid pace across several states, resulting in people worldwide making donations and raising awareness by getting #PrayForAustralia trending on social platforms. So, let us take the time to consider how we can keep our planet more sustainable when the play button is pressed on this global pause.

How is mother nature thanking us?
Back in February an analysis by the climate group Carbon Brief found as the pandemic seized hold to China’s economy and heavy industries were shut, emissions from the country plummeted by an astonishing 25% which is the same amount of carbon emissions that the UK produces in a whole year. Until now, global emissions have been reliably increasing by a few percent year on year. In early April, the Carbon Brief analysis estimated that globally this year, emissions could fall by 5.5 percent from 2019 stats. The 5.5 percent figure tops the 3 percent reduction in emissions that followed the 2009 recession, where similarly economies were slowed, and people travelled less. But emissions bounced right back as the economy recovered.

This is our chance to reinvent cities
If the streets are the cities veins, then the cars are the blood pumping through them- however they are a pathogen. With cars now locked up in garages, air quality around the world has gone through the roof, according to a report by the royal college of physicians (RCP) each year inhaling particles of air pollution around 29,000 people’s lives are cut short in the UK every year. Last month, researchers at Columbia University calculated that carbon monoxide emissions in one of the busiest cities in the world, New York City which not surprisingly mostly comes from vehicles -fell by 50%.
We’re also beginning to get a taste of what our cities looked like if they were designed for people and not cars, cities in America such as Oakland, California and Boston have all shut their roads completely for cars meaning people can walk and bike safely without worrying about cars which if this was happening pre-covid would be boosting public health.

CSR is a long-term strategy
With more free time on our hand’s consumers are watching companies closely, this is a crucial time for companies to take up social responsibility. As Covid-19 has affected the lives of billions, people are now looking to businesses for support. According to a poll conducted on a recent Association of National Advertisers webinar, 20% of brand marketers have increased CSR spending as a response to the epidemic.
If you are a salesman or a BDM, you may not be hustling to maintain your day to day processes now because your products and services do not have the same sort of demand as they usually would. Do not ignore what is right in front of you and use the time that would normally be used to carry out these tasks and develop strategies that will help the business thrive in new market conditions. Building your organisation to be more sustainable makes your business become more efficient, improves your brands value and reputation, provides a platform for innovation, attracts and retains staff as 75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible organisation and lastly strengthens your stakeholder relations.

With climate no longer being the crisis, climate issues have been crowded off the agenda – but how can we use this time to ensure mother nature can finally start thanking us when the 100th year earth day anniversary comes along? Maybe our sudden clearer skies don’t have to be temporary after all…

Escapism vs Exposure – which one benefits you?

The current ground hog type situation the world is currently facing has inflicted stress, anxiety and trauma to human beings worldwide. Everyone is different and as the human brain is very complex which means we all take different routes to coping with periods of uncertainty like this. People tend to either expose themselves to the reality of what’s going on in the world i.e. watch the news and never miss the 5 o’clock news update. Others choose to escape from the reality and focus on activities such as fictional video games. Personally, when the country officially got put on lockdown I never missed a 5 o’clock update and was fixated on the number of cases and deaths there were in the UK, which in retrospect made me feel on edge and anxious about my loved ones. Now I don’t necessarily escape the news, but I don’t wait for the 5 o’clock update every day and switched the BBC news notifications off my phone. Instead I partake in activities that I know make me happy such as home workouts, watching my favourite reality TV shows and playing quizzes with my friends over zoom. We should always be aware of what’s going on in the world, however if this is negatively affecting your mental state, then forms of escapism can really benefit you.

Exposure
Production on TV shows and films have been put to a holt worldwide and movie theatres have been shut, even if they were open it would be a mere empty space given the nations rightfully reluctant to leave their homes to enter crowds with high density. As everyone is hunkering down to spend a long stretch at home this means one thing; streaming is booming. With some TV shows being used as a form of escapism, other people are taking the time to revisit films that are directly related to this phenomenon. Contagion, a film made in 2011 has been given an afterlife due to the content being an accurate representation of the current situation. Over the bank holiday weekend I myself took a break from my colouring book and watched contagion, I was left in disbelief that a film like this was made before this pandemic began as it was so relatable, however I do believe it’s made me tougher and more knowledgeable of what’s to come as for some people keeping fear out of sight only enables it to expand in size and intensity. Films such as contagion and outbreak allow people to vicariously live through the days and map out what will be left post-pandemic. Because our future is unknown this acts as a form of preparedness for the brain as we depict the thinkable, unthinkable and theorise where the average persons place in society will be.

Fake news
Even for people that insist on never believing what papers like the Daily Mail write, fake news has been inflicting fear on people worldwide. There has been fake news contaminating our brains circulating round the media and social media that the WHO (world health organisation) have added a ‘myth busters’ section to their corona virus advise pages which includes claims that drinking potent alcoholic drinks, exposure to high temperatures and conversely cold temperatures can kill the virus. Two weeks ago, my brother forwarded a voice note that was passed on to him by his boss’s wife who works in a hospital in London. The voice note that was supposedly from a Nurse proclaimed amongst numerous other things that a third of people dying of corona virus is going to be baby’s and people below the age of 30, two days later it was announced this was a fake voice note; however it sounded so real at the time. Whether you believe fake news or not, it still inflicts anxiety and fear therefore only believe information and guidance from reliable sources such as the NHS website.

Escapism
Seeking distractions is a common way of coping for some people during this pandemic, and with bars, restaurants, leisure centres and other facilities shut until Boris tells us differently – people have been finding creative ways to maintain social connections and have fun despite being stuck indoors. With the power of Zoom and house party families and friends have been playing interactive quizzes as a means of keeping contact and having fun whilst doing so. According to analysts at Futuresource video games sales have risen between 40% and 60%. The increase is due to the release of animal crossing and other new titles such as Call of Duty: Warzone, which is probably not surprising to the girlfriends who are self-isolating with their other half’s glued to COD all day.

There is a fine line between being aware of current affairs and over-exposing yourself to the point where it becomes an obsession. Maintain distractions that interest you and make you happy and ensure that you’ll keep positive. There are no right or wrong ways to exist in this period of time, however exposure to negative thoughts will only make your time in self-isolation seem longer and mentally draining.

 

Written by Sophia Ghahramani