Supporting Small Businesses Safely

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Whilst the enforced closures of theatres, cafes, pubs and other venues is a welcomed step in the right direction to getting us through Covid-19, the decision has left businesses and those that support them looking for ways to adapt.

As someone who is taking social distancing seriously *click here for previous post*, I am aware that many shops and venues will struggle to cope with closures and want to find a way to support them safely during this time.

The Milking Parlour is a Yorkshire based ice cream shop that my family and I have loved since moving up here. Based in the quaint market town of Kirkby Lonsdale, it is the must visit location in town! This family run business offers a whole host of flavours, changing on a regular basis. Seeing on their Instagram account that they were moving to takeaway only, like many others, we felt it was only right to take a trip this weekend. milkingparlour

Anybody who knows the area will know that even on the rainiest of days, Kirkby Lonsdale is a bustling location with locals and tourists alike making use of the dog friendly pubs and cafes. Today, the town felt quiet. Signs in shop windows told of closures lasting indefinitely. It was a sad sight to behold and I suspect that this is a small representation of the nation for the forseeable future.

For many, switching to takeout only isn’t an option but for The Milking Parlour and others that remain open, this is the time for us to turn up. Concerns about social distancing have been addressed clearly on the sign post outside asking for customers to patiently wait and limiting numbers of people in store at one time. These are easy requests to adhere to and in doing so, not only are you keeping yourselves and those that are serving safe, you are able to continue to be there for those who need us.

When this is all over, I have no doubt that we’ll all be wanting to get straight back to normal life. Spending weekends at our favourites restaurants, going to the theatre and alcohol fuelled nights out are going to be that much sweeter, but we must do everything in our power to ensure that they can survive these times in order to thrive later.

I strongly hope and believe that this unprecendented journey we are on will lead to a new way of life for many of us. Appreciating the small businesses who take time to care for their customers, the arts industry who provide us with a much needed escape and the bigger brands who chose to make staff welfare a priority. So if you’re going a little stir crazy and are safe to take a quick trip out, why not make it to your local bakery or coffee shop for a takeout?!

In order to limit contact and allow these businesses to remain open, for now leave the reusable cups at home, pay with contactless card where possible and head straight back home. Let’s get this over with as fast as we can so that we can make way for a better way of living!

Sophie x

How To Keep Busy In Isolation

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Okay, so it’s been about three days since my place of work was closed for the forseeable future. At this point it feels a lot closer to three weeks. The days have all blended into one and weekends are but a social construct that fail to exist in this modern world!

Basically, I’m hopeful but deluded. I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet that this is just the start of a minimum, 6 week ‘holiday’. I keep waiting for Boris to pop up on the telly at 5pm and tell us we can all go back to work, Covid-19 has magically cured itself.

Of course, the reality is that this is a prolonged period of unknown and unnerving times. I fully expect it to be a rollercoaster of emotions. In preparation for the weeks ahead I’m following advice from Joey in that episode of Friends when he spaces out his to-do list over a full week. *I honestly don’t have the desire to find a quote or clip so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, take it up with Google*.

Over the next few weeks my priority is RuPaul’s Drag Race. I’m currently working my way through Season 10 and expect to be up to date within the week. Not only is it light-hearted and funny, the repetitive nature of the show provides my take on a routine. Let’s be honest, we aren’t all going to be setting our alarms for 7am or colour coordinating our calenders with frivilous tasks like showering!

I have begun to investigate online courses but I’m apprehensive to rush into something just for the sake of it. Whilst I want to value this time and make use of it in order to better my life and skillsets, I think it would be easy to pick something and then find it of little value past keeping me entertained. Like I said, we are in this for the long-haul so save the books and crochet and have something to look forward to in two weeks from now.

Baking. I’ve already seen so many people on my instafeed turning to their ovens in this hour of need and I think it is a fabulous way to occupy your mind and master a new skill! This leads me seemlessly into what is arguably the biggest part of this social distancing palava. Social media.

In recent years, social media has been the subject of much debate and argument. We’ve seen how it has transformed from an exciting new form of communication to a complex maze of mental health issues and cyber bullying. From my own experience, I can say that in the last few days I have spent more time enjoying the likes of Instagram than I have in years. Seeing friends and colleagues rally round to support eachother, share silly memes and spend time standing up for their industries and fellow workers has been nothing short of wonderful. It has demonstrated to me how we can use our pages for good. I can only imagine how difficult it would be if we were to remove the internet from our lives in these trying times. Despite being in ‘self isolation’ we are arguably more connected to one another and our emotional well-being than ever before.

If you have any suggestions for decent online courses or things to do, please do share them with me. You can find me frequently refreshing on Twitter and Instagram @sophieaiken.

Sophie x

Why It’s Time To Start Social Distancing.

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Over the last week, life in London has been pretty much thrown into turmoil. We are living in unprecedented times and there seems to be a lot of confusion as to where we go next. Whilst I don’t have all the answers, I have made the conscious decision to take part in social distancing and here’s why you should too…

Social distancing requires as many people as possible to put measures in place to slow down the spread of Covid-19. By avoiding pubs, clubs and social gatherings, we are helping to delay the spread of the outbreak.

I have seen many young, fit and healthy people on social media in the last couple of days continue to defy government advice. I find it ironic that we are so quick to criticise our government when they fail to speak out on climate change and other large social issues but refuse to make positive changes for the masses during a global pandemic…

We are not doing this for ourselves but for the good of those who are likely to require medical intervention. We all know how much pressure the NHS has been under in recent years and in order for those who need help to receive it, we need to control the rate of transmission.

Social distancing is not something that we all have the option to actively partake in. But if we do, why shouldn’t we at the very least give it a go? For the sake of missing a few weeks of normality, we can choose to stay at home and protect our nations most vulnerable people. It’s about your parents, grandparents, family who suffer with chronic conditions or friends with asthma.

This isn’t about buying into mass hysteria. The shops will remain open. Having a twenty pack of toilet roll isn’t going to save your grandma when her lungs give in!

If you have the option to work from home, consider this a luxury. There are many of us for whom this isn’t an option. We face financial difficulties, job losses and an anxious wait to see what the Government will be able to offer us. By all means support small businesses but do it in a safe way, consider buying vouchers or ordering online where possible.

I think at this time, it is most important to acknowledge those who continue to provide services for us all whilst dealing with the same mental and emotional pressures. Emergency service workers, small business owners, retail and care workers, delivery drivers and postmen, bin men and every other industry worker who is continually showing up for us all.

The biggest thing I have noticed in the last few days is how each one of us is facing our own struggle or financial dismay as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. Whatever career we have or place we reside, these are uncertain times and it is ever more important that we make decisions for the good of each other. We will come out the other side of this. By acting now through social distancing, we can slow down rates of infection and speed up the time that this pandemic will take from our lives.

Here is a link to the latest government updates for those in need of employment guidance.

If you’re struggling with your mental health or just need a bit of extra support, this page from Mind Charity is full of useful information.