As I sit here and reflect on the past year, as I’m sure many of you will be doing, it is hard to comprehend the sheer amount of change we have all faced. With change comes ups and downs, and a range of thoughts and emotions. One thing that has been so encouraging is the immense sense of teamwork and a determination across the profession to tackle the challenges head on.
Here at the charity there was a sense of excitement at the start of the new year. We were embarking on a new journey with a fresh strategy and revised vision –‘No one in our pharmacy family will face challenging times without us by their side’. We were determined to evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of the profession, however, we weren’t expecting to be evolving quite so quickly!
Our new strategy has guided us through the pandemic and has ensured that our renewed focus and mission ‘To champion the wellbeing of our pharmacy family’ has been at the forefront of all that we do. As we quickly adapted to a new way of working, we ensured that our services were unaffected by our move online and that people could access the support they needed.
The word ‘team’ has been a word used a lot during 2020, and I think we all appreciate the importance of having support around us. I am immensely proud and grateful for the support of our staff and trustees – with four new starters joining us remotely during lockdown. The team, alongside our committed volunteers, have ensured that we have been able to deliver our free and confidential support throughout the pandemic and I have heard many stories from pharmacists who have talked about their teams pulling together to support one another.
At the forefront of our mind was the need to support our pharmacy family’s wellbeing and, as a way of raising awareness and supporting people through challenging times, back in May we developed and launched the #ACTNow campaign. We are very grateful to the PDA, Teva UK, Well and Alphega for their support in enabling us to deliver this campaign. Through their sponsorship we were able to help thousands of students, trainees and pharmacists through some difficult months. One quote that stood out for me from feedback was someone saying the campaign had simply left them feeling less alone. Through the campaign we developed 66 new pieces of online content including 24 factsheets, 10 self-learning modules, 15 printable posters and resources, 15 ‘Your Story’ blog posts (sourced from individuals across the profession at various stages of their career) and two campaign videos. We raised awareness through social media, e-newsletters and a variety of online events covering a range of wellbeing themes. My personal highlight was participating in TwitterChats and Facebook lives – after a quick social media tutorial from my teenage daughter!
It’s not all been plain sailing for us. Our income took a huge hit, as it did for charities everywhere. According to the Institute of Fundraising, charities have reported an expected 24% reduction in income for the year – which equates to a £12.4 billion loss in total. There will be ongoing challenges for us and many third sector organisations over the years ahead. Despite this, our incredible ‘TEAMGreen’ stood by us and did what they could. With the cancellation of many events, including the London Marathon, we were grateful and inspired by the people who found their own ways to support us. Our staff team took on their own ‘TEAMGreen’ challenges...others donated the cost of a haircut! I’ve also heard recent rumours that a few people may be taking a chilly dip on New Year’s Day at locations across GB, and others may be tackling the three peaks to raise money!
As we come to the end of the year, we launch our joint wellbeing survey results with the RPS. Unsurprisingly, the risk of burnout is still incredibly high and concerning. 72% of respondents said their work had negatively affected their mental health and wellbeing in the last year, with reasons given including increased demand, inadequate staffing, long hours and a lack of breaks and time off. This is a very similar situation to last year, highlighting that the pandemic has only added pressure, with 54% of pharmacists saying they believed that COVID-19 had impacted their mental health and wellbeing to a partial extent, while 31% believed it had to a significant extent.
A Look Ahead
With our mission at the forefront of our mind, we end the year planning how we can further support our pharmacy family in the year ahead. We recognise that there is a still great deal of work to do to meet the changing needs of the profession. It is essential for the charity to continue to work in partnership with organisations across the sector to raise awareness of our support, as well as raise awareness of the importance of wellbeing. After a successful campaign this year, I am delighted that the charity will again be running a wellbeing awareness campaign in 2021. In addition, we will continue to expand our wellbeing service, and develop our proactive support through wellbeing events, training programmes, and resources.
2021 will be a special year for the charity as we celebrate 25 years of our peer-support service, Listening Friends. I am excited to announce that as well as celebrating our valuable Listening Friends service, we will be launching a number of new opportunities to volunteer and support us in 2021. Without our amazing volunteers we would not be able to deliver the impact we do.
Danielle Hunt, Chief Executive