In my first blog I emphasised the need to redouble our efforts to help those in our industry suffering hardship through no fault of their own.  The message remains the same, we expect the requests for grants to rise exponentially, which will increase the pressure on the office team.  Three of our members have become ‘Support Grant Volunteers’ and have been assessing applications in their areas, Joanna Knight, Mark Lynch and Peter Hewitt, thank you – you are making a difference to people like Jennifer.

Jennifer had worked for a bedding manufacturer for five years before being made redundant at the start of lockdown.

She was able to apply for Universal Credit but the payments barely covered her rent and bills. To make matters worse, her two children had grown out of their school uniforms and she was unable to put any money aside each month to foot the bill.

Jennifer had heard about The Furniture Makers’ Company through her previous employer and decided to reach out for support. We were able to award her a two-month Personal Support Grant and help relieve some of the stress she is experiencing.

She said: “Thank you so much for your generosity and understanding. It’s not easy to have to ask for help when I’m used to being so independent. You’ve made me feel so comfortable in doing so and it really means a lot to me.”

Sadly, we have struggled to persuade businesses to sign up to the ‘One Step at a Time’ campaign, mainly I think as a result of lockdown.  Now that the industry is beginning to open-up again with factories back at work, retailers opening, logistics delivering and projects coming alive, we need to make contact and urge them to sign up.

On a lighter note, Lockdown has had some benefits, particularly wildlife and nature.  My own garden in west London has been buzzing with activity and a surprising variety of birds have nested and raised their young.  We have seen woodpeckers, black caps, goldcrests, goldfinches, wrens, long tailed tits, blue tits, great tits, thrushes… The list is endless!  Our pond is throbbing with tadpoles and frogs, damsel flies, mayflies and a huge variety of bees, butterflies and moths.  Then, it has been so quiet, fewer planes and cars.  To top it all we have been blessed with some glorious weather which has resulted in a fabulous display of colour in the flower beds.

Now we are on the slow path to normality so let’s all be positive, work hard together towards a brighter future.  Hopefully we will be able to meet soon and celebrate but in the meantime make sure you join us on the virtual events, which are great fun.

My new title is Zoom Master in recognition of my newfound media skills.

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