One Year On

Our Chief Executive Murray Dawson reflects on the last 12 months

"I took the above photo on 24 March 2020 - the day we closed our fantastic new building. In some ways it’s felt that it’s gone in a flash, however at times it’s also felt like a long slog.

Looking back at my calendar on that day, I have one task - ‘Locking Up’. It was surreal – I was there for the whole day, with different people popping in and out to pick up PCs, chairs etc. and then, around 7pm, there I was standing in the main breakout space, looking at that fantastic space, the heart of our building, dark and empty – I remember feeling a little like the captain on the bridge of the Titanic (but with an exit strategy).

Who’d have thought then that a full year later, we would still be working from home, with no activity allowed to take place within the building.  I often reflect on whether we’d have done things differently if we had known then what we know now – yes, we undoubtedly would have, but that said, what you can’t argue is that we’ve risen to the challenge – moving our services online, responding to the crisis, supporting our communities and all our shmu family, reopening our services at the earliest opportunity, and most recently, continuing to innovate and design online services that are really making a difference and putting ourselves forward to play a key role across a number of sectors as we move to recovery. 

The recent announcement from the Government provides us with a much clearer roadmap around the easing of restrictions, and we find ourselves once again considering opening up our building and renewing our face-to-face services - I’m sure like me, you can’t wait.  

At the time of writing, we will move to Level 3 on April 26th, which will allow us to pick up where we left off at the end of last year.  Although still to be clarified, this should include our work with young people, including our work with schools and youth media, and our employability services. 

Our work with vulnerable adults, both individual and group work will be considered, and over the next few weeks we will look to clarify what we need in place to see the return of all our amazing volunteers to the building, after doing an incredible job throughout what’s been a challenging year.

Like me, I’m sure you’ll agree that this can’t come soon enough, but as you know, every step forward will have to be linked to the corresponding easing in restrictions. We’ll work together to support those who are lucky enough to return to our building within the next month or so, but just as (if not more) importantly, we’ll  continue to support those who will have to wait that little bit longer."

Murray Dawson, shmu Chief Executive