Written by Ellen O'Shea

2020: Goodbye and Good Riddance

Wow. What a year. We began with worries about what Brexit would actually mean for business and everyday life and then within a few short months found ourselves in the middle of a nightmare.

Covid-19 has decimated this year and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who has been untouched by it. Millions out of work, entire industries virtually destroyed and a death toll that is still rising. I am not sure I’ve even really processed the events of this year properly yet. To me it all still feels like I’m in the middle of a surreal dream or on the set of a dystopian drama. I’m half expecting Rick Grimes to arrive to help me fight zombies…though oddly, I think I’d be better equipped to deal with that. At least you can see a zombie. Fighting an invisible foe, that exists in our very breath and on the surfaces we touch seems infinitely more difficult.

Yet, I am one of the lucky ones! Like countless others I spent some time separated from loved ones, felt the concern for those loved ones who were key workers in education and the NHS who were putting their lives at risk to help others. I saw my income reduced through furlough, just as I had an offer accepted on my first property with my partner. Buying a house and moving is stressful at the best of times-doing it in the middle of a global pandemic is an experience I will never forget! I felt the panic, the despair and the sense of futility that everyone else felt whilst at the same time being fully aware of the privileges I enjoyed.

My loved ones are well; older relatives quarantined in their homes, but safe and I can stand at the gate with a thermos of tea to say hello. My partner has miraculously managed to avoid infection (touch wood) despite being exposed to it each day as an NHS worker and my Mum has joined my covid ‘bubble’ so we still get to have lunch each week. Each day watching the news, I am aware that thousands are not so lucky.

I spent a few months furloughed, thankful for the government hand outs that made it possible for my job to remain in place whilst I enjoyed my daily exercise and tried to ignore the news. During the summer I returned to work on reduced hours, tapping away on my ancient lap top in a conservatory. Everything took five times longer than it should because of shoddy wifi and my back was killing me from sitting awkwardly at a kitchen table for hours each day- but I had a job! My company and our directors did everything they could to ensure that every employee had a job to come back to. Sure, it meant that everyone took a hit but it meant that we could all come back. Together we got through it and we continue to do so. We have completely changed our operations; we’ve become fully remote and so have had to change our processes to ensure that we can still provide the best service to our clients. We continue to find roles for our candidates even in these difficult times and are there to support them through changes in regulations, school closures and all the confusion that Covid brings.

I, like many others, am uncomfortable with change. It makes me nervous. This year it has been forced upon me in such a way that it just became part of life. ‘Change’ and ‘adaptation’ are the ‘new normal’. I’m coming to terms with this…just about.

I can’t wait for the day when the restrictions are all gone and I can give my family a hug and sit in a beer garden with my friends. I look forward to travelling in to the city to meet up with my colleagues, share some lunch and some laughs in amongst all the hustle and bustle. I think it will be a while yet… the battle is not yet won, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am grateful that I’ve come through it relatively unscathed and can’t even begin to express my sympathy for those who have not been so fortunate.

For now, lets look forward to Christmas and to a better year beyond. 2021 has to be better! I refuse to allow it not to be. So goodbye to 2020- be sure to let the door hit you hard on your way out!

Stay safe, be happy and best wishes for 2021!