Coronavirus update: the latest news from East Midlands businesses

Michelle Briggs

A new counselling business, based in West Bridgford, has launched with a mission to offer free support to NHS and care workers during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Counselling West Bridgford has been set up by UKCP-accredited Psychotherapist Michelle Briggs, who also has an MSc in Experiential and Person-Centred Psychotherapy and first began her counselling career in 2015.

As well as launching her private practice, Briggs is on the counselling team at Nottingham Trent University and provides counselling support through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), working alongside a network of other UKCP-accredited psychotherapists.

For now, the practice will be phone-based due to the lockdown but there are plans in the pipeline for a major project to provide talking therapies and coaching to individuals and groups, in warm, comfortable, discrete huts within a natural setting.

Briggs said: “I am on a bit of a mission to challenge the current counselling and coaching market, balancing the four priorities of client delivery, respecting therapists, incorporating the natural environment, and commercial thinking.

“The natural environment part of our offering will have to wait a little longer but now is not the time to dwell on that. Now is the time to provide help where I can, wherever I can and that is perfectly possible over the phone or online.

“We are living in unprecedented times and people need help and reassurance, the technology exists to provide that and I’m here to help and look forward to making a difference whether that is with free support to our wonderful NHS and care workers or by launching with reduced rates open to anyone who is taking their first steps with counselling or simply wants to reach out for a little help and would appreciate some guidance.”

A business software provider is opening up resources from its internal educational portal at no extra cost after proving a hit with hundreds of its own employees working from home during lockdown.

Staff at The Access Group, which supports thousands of mid-sized UK companies, created the Access Juniors concept to help their own colleagues trying to juggle work and keeping their children engaged with learning.

The resource hub originally launched on the Access Workspace platform and features a range of resources covering maths, languages, science and reading—as well as ideas to keep kids active and healthy, with examples for movement and mindfulness. Access Juniors sends out weekly challenges, encouraging children to submit pictures of their work and earn virtual badges and certificates.

So far, it has been accessed by over 250 children ranging in age from 1 – 15. Access hopes more children across the UK can benefit from the resources and challenges. The group will now be sharing regular challenges across its social media profiles using #AccessJuniors.

Claire Scott, Access Group chief people officer, said: “The inspiration for launching Access Juniors came from an employee on my team, Sue Evans, after speaking with parents about their struggles to keep their children entertained whilst they were working. If you’ve got a great idea at Access you can just do it and Sue made it happen. Supporting our team in any way we can has never been more important and it’s great we’re now able to expand this wonderful resource to a bigger audience.”

Sally Gillborn

Locked in with… Sally Gillborn, North Notts BID

Who are you locked in with?
I am at home with my husband Mark, our 15-year-old daughter Phoebe and our Labrador Maisie.

How has the lockdown and working from home been for you so far?
I am very much a people person, so I prefer to go into the office and have face-to-face meetings rather than work from home.

That being said, I have quickly adapted to home working and communicating effectively through Microsoft Team chats with my staff and weekly Zoom meetings with business partners.

Operationally, the BID is managing to keep the wheels turning and keeping our members up to date with information, advice and guidance during these unprecedented times.

The only thing I am struggling with so far is that I never seem to switch off from work!

What has been the best thing about staying in?
The best thing about staying in is that I am spending less money – there are no weekly fuel costs and no temptation to nip to the shops.

I am also enjoying spending more time with my daughter and having family meals rather than eating out at the weekend.

And what have you missed the most?
I am really missing my other daughters – Alexandra and Georgia – and my two-year-old grandson Billy. Georgia is expecting another baby so I’m finding it hard that I can’t be there for her to see how she’s doing.

I also miss my parents and my friends, but it is a small sacrifice to make compared to what our NHS and other key workers are doing to save lives and provide the necessities to get us through this pandemic.

What previously essential thing have you realised is not actually essential?
A lot of things. This kind of situation really does make you re-evaluate your life.

Wearing make-up is one of them – it definitely isn’t essential when working from home!

What are the changes you’ve made that you plan on continuing when restrictions are lifted?
Continue to go on more family walks as we have been doing for our daily exercise and having more family meals together.

Have you made progress on any of your bucket list items?
One of my bucket list items is to go to the Maldives, which we had just booked for my husband’s birthday next January.  I will certainly be ready for a holiday by then so I’m hoping that we get this virus under control so we can still go. It has taken quite a while to save for the trip and I will certainly treasure every moment if we are fortunate enough to make it there.

What is the first thing you will do when isolation ends?
Have my hair coloured!  I am sure a lot of ladies are with me on this one.