The lock down diaries, Work

Made COVID Redundant!

One in four employers expect to make redundancies as a result of coronavirus,  poll finds

Hello fellow readers, I thought I would share a written piece that the majority of the British population can relate to. Firstly, many apologies for missing a week out of my blog by not posting anymore entries, as you can appreciate when you read further on, you’ll see I have been very busy.

So to fill you guys in on the latest info, last week I was made redundant from my job as a secondary assistant manager working for an independent pub company. I was placed on/ off furlough throughout the COVID experience, which I will be honest was starting to create uncertainty for my future within the pub company. Everyday I was going into work wondering what was going on, but then eventually I had the strength to ask, and thought, if it involves me then I am entitled to know, as I had a gut feeling from how things were going they were putting future plans together for the next phase of reopening. I sent a polite email after phoning ACAS for advice on what to do and how to approach the matter, I stated my concerns and what I had observed and asked where does my future stand. My business owner sent me an email stating that they had been through the books, and my role now ceases to exist due to cutting costs and they now only need two managers; they reasoned that due to being the last manager to be hired the secondary assistant manager role ceases to exist, however they tried to include me into still working their as hourly paid staff, to which I politely explained and declined that I needed a salary to keep myself and my flat afloat, but I shall take redundancy.

Steeles Law Solicitors | Norwich, Norfolk Redundancy, Lay-Off, Short-Time  Working and Covid-19

Don’t Panic!

I would be lying right now if I said, I was chilled and happy after receiving such news. I didn’t cry I just silently panicked for the first hour. The thoughts going round in my head. Did I do something wrong?! Why me?! (Even though I new the answers to these questions they still went round in my brain.) That night I sat down and spoke with my partner and tried to sensibly discuss our options. I had some furlough to buy me some time, I can use this an opportunity to go back to live closer to family; I can go on holiday for a couple of weeks to chill out; I can re-assess options for retraining or how to economise a bit more and save money.

Firstly after reflecting on the negatives, I focussed on the positives, I can use this opportunity to turn over a new leaf, reinvent myself, make new friends and see what opportunities are out there. I also called ACAS to see what I can do and my entitlements regarding what pay I should receive. So I spent 2 hours the following day, working out how I am going to overcome this somewhat crisis. I was in a fortunate position that previously, two years ago I had been made redundant from a city centre pub, so I knew how to handle it better this time.

I worked out and calculated with worse case tax and NI contributions worse scenario, how much money I should receive roughly on my final pay date, to budget accordingly. But the one thing I thought about, after I spoke to Tonic Talent Recruitment Agency and told them my situation asking them for help, they were really supportive on the phone and I remember Conrad, a young gentleman I had known for years from networking hospitality management events, Conrad sympathised and assured me as best as they can they would help me, however there is not a lot of work about, but also assured me I was not alone in this current situation.

You’re Not Alone!

After coming off the phone to Conrad, his words sunk in and made me feel better, not about the fact that they didn’t have much at this present time, but what he said regarding the fact that “I am not alone in this situation!” This put me at peace, because I know there have been family members and friends and former colleagues of mine throughout the years I knew were also in the same boat as me and I hope they found as well as I did some comfort.

My best friend, who I will protect her real name, but for now I’ll refer to her as Rebecca; she worked for an independent travel company as a strong member of the marketing team and one of the longest lasting of her team, but she was also made redundant recently, and even stated the other day, usually in the past when she has applied for jobs, she has been inundated and headhunted within seconds; baring in mind she is very skilled and talented and experienced in her area, but she has also struggled and only managed to speak to one or two people in her field that are looking at hiring. But don’t be downhearted is my advice, and I know it’s hard not to, don’t let this ruin your confidence, as confidence pays off when interviewing for your potential new role. Also what helped me was to remember, you can be perfectly able to perform a job, but recruiters I have found and from my experience in management from recruiting and interviewing is that, other applicants could have better access to the venue than you; the applicants that were more successful maybe came across more confident than you or worse case scenario fabricated on their experience; Applicants may just have one key ingredient that recruiters are specifically looking for, for example, they might have already worked using the same app that the business already uses, and that requires less training; the applicant might be a certain age or have government guidelines that they can only have universal credit applicants. During this time the job market has been more competitive than ever, and each job or company in the main have had different rules and guidelines given to them by the government. I have been there in the past and recently, where I have applied for jobs and interviewed and I know I match the requirements and have experience to perform the job really well, but then I have faced rejection. So it can happen to anyone.

Finding The Perfect job

Factors to consider when applying for your role, and a way of moving forward in your next chapter is to consider your strengths and weaknesses. Carefully evaluate the job description and see if it is a job you’re experienced/ qualified to do, remember you don’t want to waste yours or the recruiters time and trip yourself up.

Be as honest as you can with the recruiter, tell them your strengths and feed off your experience and past contributions. For example, from being in catering management, I have been acting as a mental health representative for staff members suffering from mental illness or problems, but I have also conducted disciplinaries, I have also excelled in recruitment and the HR side of things so I have expressed my interest and explained that I am more of a people’s manager. Remember everyone is different and has things they excel at and in a team, they might want someone with your strengths to compensate for another team member who has strengths in another field.

One important rule, I know after being made redundant I had my time where I had a self pitying hour or two where I felt negative and didn’t even want to leave the house and not get out of my pyjamas some days; but then I thought I can either carry on like this and act on, or see this as an opportunity to start over and pick myself back up again. I knew the job I wanted after been made redundant and I put on my smartest outfit, dressing in a pencil skirt, blue blouse and high heels (I find heels add that bit of confidence, as I am rather short) if you dress and put a lot of work into your appearance for the job you really want, you can give off a good impression alone, as recruiters can see after your job loss, you’re making the effort and don’t look downtrodden. Dressing to impress can help confidence, self esteem, and also can show a recruiter a good first impression by showing them that you’ve made an effort.

Managing Your Time During Redundancy

How I managed my time during redundancy, I explored hobbies that I couldn’t do due to my previous work schedule, and took the time to basically not punish myself, but thought I really enjoy Human Resources so I started up a home learning course to build on my knowledge of this subject, and thought this could lead to my dream job being in Human Resources for a pub company or a theatre.

I spent two hours a day researching and applying for jobs that would suit myself and my experience.

One thing is give yourself a break! Don’t spend all day home learning or looking for a job, dedicate times and draw up a schedule of when you’re going to do your housework, job searching, and always schedule unwind time!

Interview Tips And How To Land The Job You Want

How Today's Tech Will Shape Tomorrow's Job Interview | TechCrunch
Redundancy and Reviewing your next move
  1. I revamped my CV, I got a relative and a friend to view it and help edit it, I emphasised on my experience and also transferable skills, i.e. recruiting when looking for a particular kind of role. Two/ three pairs of eyes are better than one. Tried to use a varied vocabulary as well in your CV this could emphasise your professionalism and your written communication skills, however do not use big words for sake of it and out of context, as it can be seen as trying to hard, but also can portray pretentiousness.
  2. Dress for the job you want, as I explained earlier dressed to impress. Embrace that confidence.
  3. I went onto YouTube and typed in job interview tips, a lot of these videos are very short but explain these tips and how and why they work.
  4. When applying for a job, make sure if it is on Indeed you add a covering letter instead of just submitting your CV, as it show that you have made an effort and gone that extra mile to state and outline your reasons for applying, it also gives you that connection to an employer as you have started written contact with them.
  5. When preparing for an interview always proof read the job description and see what language the recruiter uses, and the skills they are looking for, so that you know in your head roughly what kind of questions and experiences you’ll be asked about and to see if the job is right for you.
  6. I found performing role play interview scenarios, which I did with my friend and partner, where they play the role of the recruiter and ask you possible questions the recruiter could ask you, then you get your practise in and also get honest feedback. Practise interview questions you can find on the internet.
  7. Prepare for your interview the night before, I pick out my outfit and a back up outfit in case of wardrobe mishaps the day before, I also plan my route, put on some meditation and set my alarm.
  8. Get in touch with recruitment agencies as well as applying for jobs, as they can help you with your CV and also find a job that you would like and that would match your skills and expectations.

Thank you to all my readers for your readership, I hope this offers some help and form of comfort, and remember you’re not alone, we are living in strange times, but it won’t be like this forever, The UK has overcome a recession before and it will again.

Anyone who has or known someone that has been made redundant, please don’t hesitate to share any tips or experiences on how you dealt with this and what your plans are. For advice on being made redundant for advice regarding pay/ rights as employee, or you can speak to someone from ACAS by calling this number Helpline 0300 123 1100 they are open for chats Monday – Friday 8am – 6pm. I found this very useful.

For now I bid thee adieu

Ellie xx

The lock down diaries

The Curtain Will Rise Again

Audience etiquette: The dos and don'ts of theatre, concert and ...

The Theatre! The Theatre! What Has Happened To The Theatre?!

As I sit here writing this I have a look from out my window, deliberating, as I look around my two bedroom apartment situated on a picturesque Warwickshire high street overlooking the local train station and hills in the distance, with the sound of sheep settling down before sunset; I sit and think how lucky am I right now?

How lucky am I to still be employed and still have a salary coming in, because in comparison to a few of my closest nearest and dearest friends, that I have known most of my life, they face the prospect of uncertainty due to revenue and shows cancelled and of course these are the passionate hard working people, whether they are dancers; choreographers; actors; writers; musicians; ticket sales; front of house managers; theatre bar supervisors, you name it, I have at least four good aquaintances that work in one of these roles in the arts sector.

However as I’m writing this, I decide now is the time to have the Hamilton soundtrack playing in the background. I am really tempted to go to the theatre right now, however due to the government guidelines theatres are currently on lockdown. Late March the government announced lockdown and closure of hospitality venues and arts venues; I found out out off the news that pantomime brings in most of the pennies into theatre venues; this is due to being many of a family tradition. The long winter runs of show, but also the amount of customers it brings into the theatre; that’s not to mention the time ticket sales and bar sales increase; furthermore with prospects of pantomimes possibly being cancelled, that is a lot of work lost for actors, and a lot of sales lost for the show companies and theatres itself.

It has seemed like from my point of view, some people do not see theatre as a necessity and think the closures of theatres and it’s fight to support the arts is ‘trivial.’ Well let me tell you, did you people know that the arts contributes 90% to the economy? Yes you read that clear and I can tell you it’s not a figure I made up as I did read this on The Stage online. Furthermore to add to the debate, if theatre isn’t a necessity, then we could argue the fact that pubs aren’t a necessity then couldn’t we? Pubs, also like theatre, is classed as luxury, yet there is uproar of keeping pubs open and people saying this about theatre, are the ones flitting to the pubs. This isn’t just a biased opinion coming from a massive performing arts geek that enjoys dance and drama in her spare time, as I too work in the pub industry and faced the same fears of possibly losing my job during lockdown.

Now let me tell you, the people that are saying the theatre isn’t relevant during the COVID 19 outbreak, well let me tell you it is relevant to the theatre workers, the people I have known and made very good friends with over the years. Katie, one of my best friends and I met her whilst we were working at the same theatre in Birmingham, a place I spent working at for eight years, where I got a lot of my teachings and learnt the skills I have today; well Katie is an example of someone who puts her bread and butter on the table, by working full time as a customer experience manager in a theatre, she is an example of someone that has grafted and worked her way up, with her meticulous work ethic and her passion and appreciation for the arts, making sure these theatre fanatics get the theatre experience they deserve. In debate, to people like her, who like many other of my friends and ex colleagues, make their living and work their backsides off, working 12 hour days and double shows, in order to create that memorable experience for theatre goers.

Theatre Is Life And An Education

My main interest for the arts sector and the theatre came from a very early age, at the age of three I was exposed to watching Shakespeare’s Animated Tales: Macbeth, I then grew a love for Shakespeare. The first show I also saw and my first experience of the theatre, was when I was five, I remember it like it happened yesterday, my mom took me as a treat to see The Nutcracker by Birmingham Royal Ballet. This helped me develop my appreciation of, not just dance but the visual arts. I remember it was January and the snow scene at the end with it’s classical music and elaborate sparkly costumes, perfectly set the scene; I remember when I went outside after the show, my night was complete with a buzz and the excitement of seeing actual snow dropped to the ground, it was magical.

The way I see it the arts are like a school and university of life; from studying a degree in drama, I learnt that it’s history, i.e. restoration, Greek Theatre and the ages and traditions different types of theatre went through; this expands and leads to further learning relating to history and philosophy. Not only that, but theatre is also psychology, when playing a character or if you’re a director or screen writer and you have to embody that character, some actors perform what is called method acting, the study and research to psychologically portray and captivate the audience with a specific character.

Other educational aspects of working in the arts, is learning technical support, the lighting and sound engineers that create and set the scene, architecture and scenic design, is accummilating skills, such as art and graphic design; as a lot of planning and attention to detail with heavy preparation are there to create that view on the stage or on the television to set the scene.

Politics and government lessons and teachings are involved in certain theatre productions; for example I saw a production of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure, this was set during the soviet union, so of course when you’re writing or directing or acting or working on a piece of theatre or television, and it’s adapted to a certain time era. For example, one of my favourite little treasures, which I saw at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, The National Theatre Production of This House, written about the 1970s house of commons by James Graham, educates it’s audience on history and the government and politics of that era.

I would also like to add when performing in musicals, be it on film or on stage, it also teaches physical education, for those dancers of an eclectic range, be it street dancers, ballet dancer and simply Broadway musical theatre stars; it teaches from the audition process to the rehearsals, about building physicality and stamina, from being able to both sing and dance and keeping that energy up. Whilst I studied an AS in dance during my teen years, I learnt a lot about physical education, the history of different styles of dance, the cultural aspects of dance, i.e. Irish dance, Tango, Latin American and a whole lot more; so it can cover certain aspects of Geography and different traditions from around the globe. There was also science involved as dancers need knowledge on nutrition and how the human body works, from why you sweat and the importance of training and how it defines muscle definition.

My Previous Life Working In Theatre

USHERS: The Front Of House Musical | Closed: 7 June 2014

Let’s rewind back to four years ago, for eight years I worked at a very well known prestigious theatre in Birmingham, I did also work for a chain theatre at the same time, so I learnt and gained knowledge and skills about customer service from both a corporate theatre and a independent theatre. I gained a lot of my management skills and leadership abilities from some really good teachers, that I watched and aspired to be like, and I would like to thank my former managers for helping me and teaching me things to carry across to a new industry, which is now the hospitality industry.

I learnt a lot of transferable skills from these places, I cross trained learning skills on reception, ticket sales, you could also say I had to have some basic mathematic skills, which (and I shudder at this) by cashing up bar and kiosk tills as well as counting stock for beginning and end of day stock balances; fire safety; COSHH (due to using cleaning chemicals on the theatre bar), so many skills, and each day was unpredictable and different, because each show or event was different. Not only that but, I made some amazing friends for life there, who I also learnt things from, the importance of team work and also the family values that they embodied. I wouldn’t be the person I was today if it weren’t for the theatres I worked at and the emotions and friendships I experienced.

A bit of nostalgia of the friends I made working at the Birmingham Hippodrome and have been supportive!
Me pictured with Duty Manager Becky and Katie my best friend who also was a Duty Manager at the theatre.
This was taken at my second staff Xmas party which was also the end of panto party, pictured in 2012

A Lifeline

The Stage acting as 'community glue' for theatre industry amid ...

I remember looking at my Facebook and Instagram feeds from many of my long term friends, faced with the anxiety of not being able to keep their jobs and may face redundancy, my actor friends who had their tours cancelled, the self employed back stage and theatre technicians and the customer service and box office support, and many more. A few people I knew had already had been made redundant, there was protests and petitions to help save the arts. It seemed to certain individuals that the arts was put onto the back burner.

It was then announced on 5th July 2020, that a £1.57 billion package was to be issued as a rescue package, a lifeline had finally been delivered and a lot of prayers answered.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

”From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.

This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down. ”

This package would distributed, not just among theatres, but also art galleries, museums and many more.

As this was announced my empathic nature kicked and a finally felt a sigh of relief for my friends and ex colleagues. The theatre from performing and working, has brought some special people into my life, not to mention gotten me through some dark times during my life, and I have the performers, ex colleagues, friends, writers and aspiring directors to thank for that. The theatre from college teachers, drama teachers, friends and people from amateur dramatics, former work colleagues have seen and believed in my abilities and my strengths and helped me in so many aspects, I couldn’t thank them enough.

How The Theatre Has Helped With Mental Health

Working in theatre, I would struggle with my mental health at times, along with most people. However, I would like to use this opportunity to talk about my personal experience, I was suffering in silence, it was winter, I had worked two shows a day both bar and front of house during a long busy run of panto, I was run down, well most of my colleagues were run down too, many of my colleagues would just have that winter depression, which most of us can be exposed to, as we weren’t exposed to the sunshine and vitamin D. The nocturnal lifestyle of working evenings, also contributed to the factor that certain colleagues and I were feeling low.

I remember I had a really bad shift, I had about over half a dozen complaints, due to people having to queue for the bar, late comers who kicked off due to not being permitted into the show until a suitable break in the performance, any of you who work in theatre or hospitality environment would know, it was just one of those shifts, which I look back on now and laugh; drunken audience members disrupting the show, you name it, I had it, my past and present colleagues in hospitality and theatre, you guessed right it was one of those bad shifts. I remember I waited until my break and sat staring into space on top of the ice cream freezer in the confectionary store, and just burst into tears, however one of my colleagues came in and turns out felt the same way and had come in also to have a cry, we opened up to each other. Baring in mind I was only 20 years old at the time, these people were so supportive, telling me I was patient, empathic and building me up, that support from these people helped me a lot, we all were in sync with each other.

May I also add that back in September and early October, I had changed jobs, changed locations and had a completely different change of life, they say moving house and changing jobs at both the same time can be difficult. I was cast in a show called Twist with my local amateur dramatic group, which I starred in November. My lifestyle was hectic as I was returning from Warwickshire to Birmingham twice a week for rehearsals, I was thoroughly exhausted and had no time to adjust, I could feel my physical and mental health deteriorating, because I was just thoroughly exhausted. Each time travelling back to rehearsal, I had no time to sit and relax, and not going to lie before going to rehearsals, I wasn’t motivated, but then I’d go and perform and see these old friends and like minded people and it made everything better.

I was granted two weeks annual leave for doing a 14 night run of the show in November, I was working and trying to pick up a new job and perform that to the best of my ability and stressed with having to move accommodation again, so up until the dress rehearsal, which was shocking I had hardly a chance to learn my lines properly, it was a shambles, we had everything in those tech and dress runs, from casualties, to things breaking, clown masks, people forgetting their lines, wardrobe mishaps you name it, Twist cast and crew experienced it.

At that point my exhaustion got the better of me, and I found myself just not wanting to speak or see anyone, I just wanted to hide in my room at my parents house and not come back out again. However, even though it was struggle, I had to really push myself to get out of bed, I thought, I cannot do this, I cannot face the world with the counter argument of the show cannot go without me as I have no understudy and everyone worked so hard on it. I went on stage, and cannot remember how, but I managed to just like that know my lines on opening night, the confidence I had in the audition two months prior came back out, and I really felt like I could escape from being Helen and enjoy hiding her as a person and embody seductress South African (or in accent Sewth Efrican) diamond smuggler, Hannah and enjoy being a different person. From this I had a sense of purpose and escapism whilst on that stage. Without the cast and crew of that show, I would’ve not been able to cope mentally.

Lockdown Beauties

For you theatre fanatics that are missing the stage we so love, I have during lockdown created my own theatre experience from home, this has included, watching some RSC productions shown on BBC 4, such as Hamlet and Macbeth. I have also been watching The National Theatre Live Productions on YOUTUBE. Andrew Lloyd Webber released his musicals on YOUTUBE channel the show must go on, with some little beauties of Jesus Christ Superstar, starring the talented former Spice Girl Mel C.

Let’s not mention Hamilton, with a mixture of Jazz, rap, with a mix of hip hop. This is on Disney + and I highly recommend very educational, powerful acting and an amazing and addictive soundtrack.

Hamilton (2020 film) - Wikipedia

List of my top 5 Plays and My top 5 Musicals

  1. Measure For Measure by William Shakespeare.
  2. This House by James Graham
  3. Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh
  4. Gaslight by Patrick Hamilton
  5. Educating Rita by Willy Russell
  1. Blood Brothers (ultimate fave)
  2. Oliver!
  3. The Rocky Horror Show
  4. Legally Blonde
  5. Hamilton

If anyone is in the arts sector and currently furloughed or even if you are just a lover of the arts, please share anything in the comments from a theatre experience, to favourite shows. I would like to thank you guys for taking the time to read this blog entry and a massive encore to you all.