Sleeping on the Streets of Stockport

Tonight we’re going to be sleeping out under the stars in the middle of Stockport – or at least under the cloud and ‘light rain’ that is forecast!

Why would we forgo our warm and comfy beds to do this crazy thing you might ask?

It’s because according to the Department for Communities and Local Government, on any one night over 4,000 people are sleeping rough in England, an increase of 16% from 2015 to 2016, and 134% since 2010. The reality could be far more than that.

Indeed, the issue of homelessness extends beyond rough sleeping, and it is estimated that more than a quarter of a million people have no home. Again, these figures just relate to England.

Now, we think that having a roof over your head is a pretty fundamental human need, especially in our cold, damp climate. If we cannot provide some kind of shelter for four thousand people it’s a very poor state of affairs.

People end up on the streets for all kinds of reasons – they could have lost their jobs, had their benefits cut, been fleeing from abuse, be suffering from mental illness. They represent some of the most vulnerable people in our society and we turn our backs on them, quite literally walk past them, and turn a blind eye to their plight.

The Wellspring is a fantastic local charity providing a service to homeless people, 365 days a year. They offer a drop-in centre, where people can access food, clothing, support and advice. And tonight they are holding an organised sleep out to raise funds and awareness.

We don’t want to just walk past and turn a blind eye.
We don’t want to be complicit in ignoring this issue.
That’s why, just for tonight, we’re going to be sleeping on the streets of Stockport.

You can do your bit too, from the comfort of your home, by sharing this story, and donating whatever you feel you can spare.

 

 

The ‘Potterthon’

Harry Potter Bike RideI’m not sure whose bright idea it was to watch all of the Harry Potter films back to back whilst riding an exercise bike, but that’s exactly what we did from 24th-25th November. Of course, it was all in a good cause, to raise money and awareness for CRASH and The Wellspring, providing support for the growing numbers of homeless people, both nationally and in our home town of Stockport.

So it was that, with aching bodies and sleepy brains, we hauled ourselves out of the office on the Saturday morning as victors! Wigs had been donned, faces painted, capes swirled… it was a whole lot of fun but we were rather tired and very saddle-sore by the end! Star prizes go to Jodie, Kelly and Dave for the number of different characters and costume changes they managed to pack in.

To see the footage that we streamed live, please visit our facebook page

A big thank you to our special guests who pitched in, as well as those who commented, shared, and donated throughout the event.

Watch out for the next instalment as we continue our series of extraordinary events in 2017.

 

A Pocketful of Change

Picture the scene in Manchester, one wet November evening. I am walking down Station Approach towards Piccadilly Gardens and, with mounting dismay, I start counting. There are seven homeless people sitting on that short stretch of chilly pavement alone. Seven. Men and women. All ages. It is heartbreaking, and it is frightening how swiftly the numbers have risen even in the last few months. Clearly ‘The Big Issue’ simply cannot deal with an issue this big.

I try to make eye contact with them and smile regretfully while shaking my head at the pleas for help. There are too many for a pocket full of change to give any relief, but at least I can acknowledge that they are there, that they are human.

As I return I see that there is an organised group dishing out hot food and asking for donations. I gladly give that pocketful of change, now that I don’t have to make the impossible choice of who needs it most.

It could be you

The problem of homelessness in our cities has reached a level I have never seen before. I find it shameful that in our relatively rich and stable society this situation exists, that we continue to turn a blind eye. That people in the UK are stripped of literally everything, including their dignity, as they are forced to beg to stay alive. It is getting worse, and the only official reaction to date has been the ludicrous remit to criminalise homeless people and fine them up to £1000 for sleeping rough.

Austerity, lack of housing, unemployment, abuse, mental health issues or simply bad luck. There could be any number of reasons why these people have ended up on the streets. Circumstances that could easily happen to one of our friends, a family member, or even ourselves. We would hope to get a helping hand, surely they deserve no less, and it needs to be the right kind of help to get them out of the gutter again.

A pocketful of change handed out to individuals won’t go very far. It could even be used in ways that worsen the daily dangers that they face. But a pocketful of change that goes towards an organisation working on behalf of these people – that can help. Multiply it many times and it could make a real difference.

Taking action

The SGPR team decided to take positive action. Our second series of extraordinary events is designed to raise funds and awareness for two organisations that are helping homeless people to get back on their feet: CRASH and The Wellspring

So far we have run, hiked and bartered, been splattered with colour, nursed blisters and lugged boxes. Next week it’s the turn of the ‘Potterthon’ – a Harry Potter themed 24 hour static bike ride. We will be streaming the event live, so be sure to check in and show your support.

It’s time to stop turning a blind eye, and take some action. We’ll make it easy for you – just hand over a pocketful of change.

Here are links to the Just Giving pages for each charity. It doesn’t matter which one you choose to donate to. It would be great if you felt moved to support both.  Just know that every penny you give will help to make somebody’s life a bit better. (Don’t forget to add gift aid if you can – it doesn’t cost you anything extra and it’s worth a lot to those you’re giving to)

CRASH 

The Wellspring

The end of a union: the start of something new?

The country has spoken, and whilst it’s not the result that many of us hoped for, that is the price we pay for living in a true democracy. Already we are seeing the impact on the financial markets, but now is not the time to panic.  It is not the time for doom and gloom.  It is time to get on with the job in hand, which is to make UK plc work harder and smarter than it has ever done before.

I’m not saying it will be easy, and there will undoubtedly be tears along the way. However, we are a nation of innovators and makers, a nation of grafters and creators, dreamers and doers. Despite our sometimes disastrous choices at the polling booths, I have faith in us, as a nation, to pull through.

If you’re wondering, what happens next? Well, these things take time.  Nothing will start to change until we invoke Article 50, which formally notifies the EU of our intention to leave.  The likelihood is that this will not happen until David Cameron’s replacement has been found, and there are rumours that it could actually be delayed until next year, after the French elections. Once we have given notice, negotiations to disentangle our affairs are supposed to take place within 2 years. However, that too could take longer – this is not something there is much prior experience of!

Until the end of those negotiations we will still be subject to EU law, and to all intents and purposes it will be business (almost) as usual.  The trade agreements are a separate matter, and we can expect it to take a decade or more to reach an agreement, although that doesn’t mean we can’t continue trading with Europe – it’s just the terms that will vary.

So, yes, we are asking the European Union for a divorce. But we are still a part of Europe, and still a part of the global economy. Let’s make the products and services we offer the best in the world.

Brexit: Are You In or Are You Out?

flag-1198978_1280We don’t normally mix business with politics here at SGPR, but some things are just too important not to take a stand on, and the looming issue of ‘Brexit’ is one of those things.

For us the business case to stay is compelling; we are construction specialists, and this is a sector that is likely to be hit hard if we leave the European Union. Already we have seen a slowdown in output and in investment, as people wait to see what the outcome will be. We can feel the wobble in the economy, and these are anxious times.

One of the most crucial issues affecting our capacity to deliver the current strong pipeline of construction work in the UK is the well documented skills shortage. Even before the recession brought about a haemorrhage of skilled workers from the industry, there were areas such as the wet trades where shortages were starting to cause problems and delays. With the fall out from 2008 things have got far worse; an entire generation is effectively missing due to the lack of work and training opportunities, not to mention the droves of experienced workers who were forced to leave and find alternative lines of work, never to return.

It is going to take time to plug that gap. Even if we can encourage enough young people to consider a career in construction, and find the means to train them adequately, it will be years before they have the competencies that we need right now. Our only option is to turn to the numbers of skilled migrant workers who are willing and able to fill those roles, help train up the apprentices on site, and deliver the work that will give the industry the sustained growth that, in turn, will support our economy. This in itself is not a new thing – construction has always relied heavily on such grafters.

Of course, migrant workers provide a contentious and emotive topic for the ‘Leave’ campaign, with the oft vocalised complaint that they are ‘coming over here and stealing our jobs’. Well folks, the truth is that the majority come and do the jobs that we either can’t or won’t do, and we need them.

On the other side of the argument you could ask yourself what will happen to all the ex-pats currently living and working in the rest of the EU (roughly 1.2 million at the last count according to the UN). Will they suddenly find that their welcome is less than warm? Because this is a two way street, and we also have skills we can bring to the European market.

If we want to continue trading freely with our European neighbours, we will still have to allow the free movement of people, and adhere to the regulations that are laid down in Brussels, regardless of whether we are in or out. The only difference if we are out (and it is a big difference), is that we will have no say in how those regulations are formulated in the future. Personally, I want to be sure that we have a voice at that table when the decisions are being made. I know for a fact through the work I have done with European trade bodies that the UK has been highly influential in both formulating and moderating European legislation that has a direct impact on construction. If we leave, that moderating influence will be lost.

I have heard arguments put forward by small, local businesses, that it is only the bigger companies who trade globally who benefit from our membership. This is a somewhat blinkered approach to the realities of the economy. Our ability to trade in Europe attracts big companies to our shores, attracts investment, and helps to create jobs. Without those things there could well be higher unemployment and less wealth to spend at a local level, so those parochial businesses would also stand to lose out.

Yes, membership of the EU costs us a lot of money, but we also get a lot in return, not just from trade but also in the shape of funding and support for things that would otherwise no longer exist in these times of austerity. Things such as funding for research (€8.8 billion between 2007 and 2013 in the UK), culture, youth initiatives, health and the environment, as well as support for small businesses. We ourselves have received European funding for business development training we could not otherwise have afforded. I for one have no faith that the money we currently put into Europe would be spent more wisely by the current, or indeed any other government.

Ultimately, nobody knows how this will play out – it is clear that there are pros and cons to either outcome. However, I believe that as part of the European Union we have an important part to play in the world; a part that would almost certainly be diminished if we tried to stand alone.

Whatever your view is, this is not a time to sit on the fence or to show complacency. So ‘in’ or ‘out’, make sure that you get to the polling booth on the 23rd June and exercise your right to vote.flag-1192625_1920

A roof over your head

As you’re reading this blog you’re probably sitting somewhere reasonably comfortable, sheltered from the dodgy British weather, either at work or at home. We take it so much for granted, that roof over our heads, but what if a change in circumstances led to you or I becoming homeless?

It’s the kind of thing that could happen to anybody. A sudden job loss, escalating debt, the need to escape from domestic abuse, a change in physical or mental health – any one of us could fall prey to the kind of chance that brings people down and out.

Walking through parts of Manchester at night is like walking through a festival gone wrong. There are small villages of tents, and people of all ages huddled in blankets or sleeping bags on the pavements. Too many to buy the Big Issue off. Too many to give a handful of change to.

It’s a sobering thought, as the rain keeps coming down and the nights drop below freezing.

Of course, it isn’t just the fact that these people have no food or shelter. It becomes incredibly difficult to service even the most basic human needs – all those other things we take for granted, like having a warm shower, clean clothes, and access to a toilet. Imagine trying to deal with having a period if you are on the streets, or even just a bad cold?

In this age of ‘austerity’, the problem is accelerating; the number of people known to be sleeping rough rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 2,744 in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of official homeless applications made in 2015 was 29,050, with a massive 68,560 households living in temporary accommodation, up from 49,680 in 2010.

You might be thinking right now, yes this is terrible, but what can I do about it? Well, quite a lot actually. You can support any number of homeless charities, including the construction industry’s own charity – CRASH: www.crash.org.uk.

You can also help by flagging up rough sleepers to Street Link, who can then make contact and help them to find shelter: www.streetlink.org.uk.

You could use the power of social media to lobby for more empty buildings to be turned into accommodation, or simply show support by spreading the word.

Last but definitely not least, you could look at any homeless people you meet with different eyes. Give them a smile, treat them like you would any fellow human being who has been dealt a tough hand.

After all, there, but for the grace of god, go you or I.

Mission Accomplished

The weather was fair but cloudy, so it was a dark, dark night for our midnight hike.  Despite a wide range of fitness in the team we managed to set a fair pace, and with our usual banter and camaraderie to keep us going, the time and the miles flew by.

On our travels we were joined by various wildlife, including some curious sheep, a large green caterpillar (probably a very hungry one!), and a small toad.  Mostly though it was eerily quiet across the tops, apart from the distant thump and rumble of fireworks from time to time – at first we thought it was thunder, then gunfire, until we caught a glimpse of the display in the distant outskirts of Sheffield.

With only the occasional stop, either for hot chocolate and nibbles or to check the route, we made good time, and as midnight approached we spotted car headlights winding along the road that marked the end of our adventure.

Before we knew it we were popping the cork on a bottle of prosecco and celebrating the successful completion of another extraordinary event.  Two down, two to go!

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A Series of Extraordinary Events #2 – The Midnight Hike

Our first event was a test of courage.  The second one is all about teamwork and trust. Once again we will be putting ourselves in the hands of our outdoor activity expert Paul, trusting him to guide us safely along Stanage Edge, the longest gritstone edge in the UK – in the dark!  Luckily Paul, who is an avid climber and who used to be the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award officer for Stockport MBC, knows the edge like the back of his hand.

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However, there is a huge difference in age and fitness levels within the team, and it can be one of the hardest things to walk at somebody else’s pace. Cathy in particular is v-e-r-y—s-l-o-w – ever since breaking her leg badly 6 years ago. Our challenge therefore is not just to negotiate 5 miles  in the dark along a rocky edge with a very steep drop, but also to stick together, providing mutual support, encouragement, and occasional swigs from the flask of brandy… sorry, hot chocolate, to keep us going.

Watch out for the next update to see how we got on, and please feel free to give generously to our nominated charity – the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Burns Unit.

A Series of Extraordinary Events #1 – The Abseil

Simply abseiling off a rockface might not seem like much of a challenge to some of you, but for others it is absolutely terrifying!  That was certainly the case for at least 2 members of the SGPR team when it came to abseiling  down this nail biting 30 foot rock face at The Roaches in Derbyshire  in order to raise money for the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Many Hands charity.

As a physical and psychological test it was a challenge that both Lou and Cathy in particular dreaded, rationally pointing out that surely walking backwards off a cliff face is nonsensical. However,  the others decided to ignore their logic and take the plunge all in the name of charity and ‘team bonding’ – and the whole team did it, not once, but twice!

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Many Hands…

Many Hands 2014 launch with Theo Paphitis

Cathy at the Many Hands 2014 launch with Theo Paphitis and Maurice Watkins

Earlier this year Paul and I were invited to an evening with Theo Paphitis, which turned out to be in aid of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Burns Unit ‘Many Hands‘ charity.

Having listened to some of the moving stories and witnessed the sheer courage of the young children struggling to deal with the painful and tedious process of recovering from major burns, we threw our hat into the ring and pledged to raise a minimum of £1000 to help support these brave youngsters and their families.

After talking to the team, we decided that we would do this as a series of extraordinary events, in which we would each face different fears and test our own courage, trust, strength and stamina.  Watch this space to see what happened next…

#loveconstruction

It’s a year since Construction News kicked off its #loveconstruction campaign, which is aimed at celebrating all of the great things this industry does. It is all too easy to read about the bad things in the press, to hear about delays, spiralling costs, skills shortages or dodgy design, and to forget that fantastic things are being achieved all the time too. This is a vibrant industry, an ever-changing landscape, pushing the physical boundaries of what can built, developing new products to save or create energy, improving our surroundings, protecting our future.  We love construction, and we are proud to play a part, however small, in communicating its successes.

Happy Birthday SGPR

Smith Goodfellow PR is celebrating its 34th birthday today, and also the fact that it is four years since Cathy and Paul took the helm.  It’s been an interesting four years learning about running a business whilst nursing it through the worst recession since the end of the second World War.  Our core clientèle lies in the construction industry, and we all know how tough things have been there.

Having said that, it has also been an immensely rewarding four years, and we would like to thank our existing clients for their continuing loyalty as well as welcoming the four new clients who have come on board so far this year – exciting times!

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Cut the Carbon or Support the Economy?

In Ed Davey’s speech at Residence Palace, Brussels on 18th June he calls for “a robust European Union Energy and Climate framework for 2030”.  Much of what he says is absolutely right; we do need to take strong and urgent action to mitigate the devastating effects of climate change, we do need to work together, business does have a crucial role to play in driving action, and there does need to be an element of flexibility in how each member nation addresses the issues.  However, the flat refusal to support either a binding energy efficiency target or a renewable energy target smacks of political anxiety outweighing the very real threat that we are all facing on a global scale.

Not that I blame him.  That catastrophic global vision is hard to keep at the forefront when faced with the very immediate needs of a struggling economy, and a construction industry that is only just beginning to drag itself out of the mire.  Slapping more rigorous energy efficiency requirements on top of the existing regulatory burdens could well push those green shoots right back down in the mud.  As for renewable technologies, the industry is still young, and although it is evolving at a rapid rate, it needs massive investment before it is at a stage where it can take up a decent proportion of our energy supply.

So what do we do? Can we really hit the carbon reductions we need to slow climate change or will that kind of action stifle our fragile economic recovery?  On the other hand, can we afford not to act?

Here’s an idea.  Instead of waiting for the big bad stick of binding targets and regulatory requirements, lets take control of our own destinies and bite into the carrot of improving the situation through simple and cost effective measures, like better energy efficiency standards in our buildings through good insulation and standards of workmanship, sensible deployment of renewables, and educating people about what will happen if we don’t stop this spiral of profligate fossil fuel consumption.  Actions like these will ultimately help the economy – creating jobs, freeing up disposable income, changing habits, improving health and tackling fuel poverty.

The construction industry has already demonstrated what it can do, it doesn’t need Whitehall, Brussels or anybody else to make it do it.  So come on, just like  the glorious summer of 2012, let’s show the world how things should be done.

The Great Housing Debate

Every day I drive through Prestbury, past huge mansion style houses that were built in the last two years and have stood empty ever since, For Sale and To Let signs flapping forlornly at the passing traffic.  Meanwhile I know of families being forced to move out of their already small homes into even smaller ones to avoid having to pay the notorious ‘bedroom tax’, yet another government initiative that takes even more away from those who don’t have much to start with.  There’s something skewed going on in this country…

I have spoken to contractors and developers and they all say the same thing – we’re ready to build, but we can’t get the funding.  I see young couples and families, desperate to buy their own home, but they can’t get a mortgage.  We need to build more houses, we want to buy more houses but the banks are so busy hanging on to the money that they were eager to give away before, that they are stifling the opportunities to get the economy going again.

Tommy Walsh speaking at the Housing Excellence Awards 2013

Tommy Walsh speaking at the Housing Excellence Awards 2013

I was at the Housing Excellence Awards last week, where I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Tommy Walsh (and yes, he really is as tall as he looks on the telly…).  In his keynote speech he made an important point about the future of construction, particularly housing, and  the dearth of employment for young people.  If you look at what we have – a serious shortage of affordable housing, a shortage of skilled workers, and large number of unemployed young people whose potential to make a positive contribution is going to waste, surely there must be opportunities to address all of these problems in one course of action.

 

So here are a couple of questions to ponder:

How can we get the banks to help Britain get building?

and

What can we do to make apprenticeships a genuine career move, upskill our young people and get them inspired to build affordable homes that they can realistically aspire to own at some point? Tommy

 

Has Ecobuild had its day?

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Ecobuild still draws the brightest and the best in construction.

In March we made the trip to the UK Construction Industry Mecca of Ecobuild – “the world’s biggest event for sustainable design, construction and the built environment”.  We were filled with anticipation, and the ExCel Centre was as impressive as ever, but the first day was sadly lacking in that buzz – that feeling that here was sustainable construction at the cutting edge.  In fact it was sadly lacking in people.  Vast areas of empty space at the backs of the halls, and at times between the stands, gave the impression that some tumbleweed could come blowing through at any moment.  Even the seminars did not seem to be drawing full audiences, despite being, thankfully, brought back into the heart of the Expo.

Having said that, there were still some great exhibitors, and some truly innovative products.  The issue seemed to be that these did not necessarily have much to do with sustainability – they were just good.  Here we seem to reach the crux of the matter, which is that since the death of Interbuild, Ecobuild offers the only opportunity in the UK for the industry in general to showcase itself on a really significant scale.  The Eco side of things is still important, but it can no longer be considered the sole focus of this exhibition.

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Paul takes a moment at the Kingspan Insulation stand, which had a steady footfall.

Perhaps next year the organisers should consider dedicating one hall to authentic sustainable solutions and innovations, and devote the other one to becoming the new generalist exhibition space. At least then it would be clearer, and there would be less chance of greenwash.  Ecobuild is still the place to be seen, still a great forum for debate and the exchange of information, but if it thinks it can still claim to be all about the ‘Eco’ it has lost its way.  From a PR point of view it needs to come clean about its natural evolution into “the UK’s biggest event for design, construction, the built environment and sustainable development.”

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The brick clad mini was certainly popular, along with the Dulux dog!

Celebrating Women in Construction

Cathy at the WIC Awards 2013 with hostess Sian Lloyd and speaker Dawn Gibbons.

Cathy at the WIC Awards 2013 with hostess Sian Lloyd and speaker Dawn Gibbons.

Last night we were proud to support the Women in Construction Awards by sponsoring the Architect of the Year category.  It was a great night, full of  amazing women from up and down the country who have managed to make their mark on what is still a very male dominated industry.

The awards recognise ability, dedication and contribution, covering a wide range of categories, from young apprentices to lifetime achievement.  It was a very strong field, and the judges must have had a very tough time deciding who would win the final accolades.

However, the mere fact that there is a separate Awards ceremony for women begs a much more serious question.  Why is it that female talent, which is every bit as valuable as that of our male counterparts, is still not reflected equally in so many aspects of the construction industry?  Why are there still so few women at board level in many of our major companies, when we saw last night just what effective leaders they can be?  Women such as Christine Wilde from Catnic UK, Barbara Welch from Mace, Yvonne Ainsworth from Bauer technologies Ltd and Gill Riley from The GGR Group are living proof of that, not to mention the extraordinary Dawn Gibbins, joint founder of Flowcrete and our guest speaker last night.

I loved the Awards, I thought that they were inspirational and that every one of those women deserved the recognition that they got, simply by being nominated.  I am just slightly saddened by the fact that glass ceilings are still such a feature of construction today.

Learning to Love Social Media – Naomi Racz

Humans have been gifted with this incredible thing called language. It allows us not only to talk about the world around us but also to share ideas. It is a tool that has evolved over thousands of years, and it continues to evolve.

As a writer I am fascinated by language and by the way it is constantly changing and growing. New words are continually being added to our lexicon and old words gaining new meanings. Even the idea of what constitutes a language has evolved, take coding languages for example. So, is it fair then to say that social media is killing communication?

I recently read a brilliant article written by Adam Douglas in 1999 called ‘How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet’. Change ‘internet’ to ‘social media’ and his article is incredibly prescient. But the part of his article that jumped out at me most was this paragraph:

We are natural villagers. For most of mankind’s history we have lived in very small communities in which we knew everybody and everybody knew us. But gradually there grew to be far too many of us, and our communities became too large and disparate for us to be able to feel a part of them, and our technologies were unequal to the task of drawing us together. But that is changing.”

As someone with an interest in social media I’m very aware of its many detractors and their objections, not least of which seems to be that people just don’t see the point. In discussions about social media I’ve often heard something along the lines of “I don’t understand Facebook, can’t people just talk to each other?”

But what Douglas Adams was clever enough to see is that talking is exactly what technologies like the Internet, and now social media, are all about. Perhaps we’re not making noises with our mouths, but when we share something on social media, we are communicating in a way that makes sense for a world of 7 billion people.

Through Twitter and blogging I have had heart-warming and honest exchanges with strangers. I’ve had people I would never have known existed tell me that they like my work and every time I get a glowing feeling inside. Through social media we are talking more than ever, and not just with the limited group of people we know in person, but potentially with people across the globe.

Is it the same as sitting down with a cup of tea and having a chat with an old friend? Can social media really replace being there in person? No, of course not, but that’s not the point. Social media is simply another tool in our mixed bag of languages, but it’s an incredibly powerful tool.

I have a feeling Douglas Adams, not Steven Fry, would be the poster child of Twitter if he were alive today.

 

Why PR is like Belaying

I learnt a new skill this week.  After almost a decade of trying to avoid it, I finally bit the bullet and learned how to belay my partner, who loves to climb.  For those of you who, like me, think that climbers are slightly mad and who prefer to keep their feet on the level, belaying is the art of supporting a climber by being on the other end of the rope that will save them if they fall off.  It involves rather more than just standing there watching, and I found it surprisingly enjoyable, if harder work than I imagined.

It occurred to me afterwards that PR is very like belaying.  We help our clients to reach their pinnacle.  We watch their backs and offer support if there’s a problem.  Because we are not too close to the rock face we can see more clearly where there may be obstacles and where there are ways round them, or where there are opportunities to progress.  We can keep an eye on the weather, and on what the other climbers are up to, and can advise the best course of action.  We are the helping hand and the safety net.  Most of all, we celebrate and share their sense of achievement when they reach the top!

I’ll never be a climber, but I could easily get into belaying.


PR v Construction?

At a Leadership Learning in Action session recently I was asked which I was most passionate about – PR or construction?  I started to really think about it and realised that, although I love my work in PR, the thing I get really excited about is the built environment and the opportunities it presents to affect our lives, for better or for worse.

When I first joined Smith Goodfellow PR (a long time ago!) I used to bemoan the fact that we did not work within a ‘glamorous’ sector. I had little understanding of the construction industry and the impact it has on society.  Today I know better, and have a keen appreciation of the fact that we can in some small way help to make our working and living environments better places to be, thanks to the work we do with our clients.

The buildings and environments we create are with us for many decades. They should not only shelter us, they should also uplift, nurture and inspire us. They can save energy, adapt to changing lifestyles, be functional and beautiful. They are one of the biggest investments we make, so it is important that we get them right, because when we get it wrong the legacy is deep and long lasting.

The part that PR plays in helping the process along lies in educating, informing and communicating with the many different parties involved in the life cycle of a building, from inception to demolition.  The complexities of legislation, the impact of different methods or materials and the influences of schools of thought are all areas that we can help to make clear.  With constant changes to regulatory requirements, and the recent shift in power when it comes to planning, good communication is essential.

We are fortunate at SGPR; we have clients who are genuinely engaged with the ideals of sustainability, who are ahead of the legislative imperatives, who have excellent products and most of all, who are as passionate about serving the industry they work in as we are.  But more about that later…

You Can Do Better

Our web designer has the words “You can do better”* on his home page.  He also has them on a poster in his room.  Not because his work isn’t good (it’s very good – take a look ), it is simply a reminder that we always have something new to learn, and improvements to make.

No matter how pleased or proud we are of what we have achieved, whether at work or in our personal lives, if we stop striving to do better we soon stop achieving.

Our world is changing rapidly, and if we want to keep up we have to change too – lets make it change for the better.

*inspired by Frank Chimero