Yelly Writes

Victory!

“The world must know what happened, and never forget.” » General Eisenhower

Thinking of all the individuals who served in the Allied Forces to push back the Nazi Germany and their cohort, of all the people who the Nazis thought were disposable, those that survived the concentration camps, those that served in the auxiliary services that kept the nation running, those people who fought against those wanting to obliterate our intrinsic rights to practice our freedoms.

Also thinking about my grandfather who served in the Philippine Army, to fight the Japanese in the Philippines. He served with distinction, walked and survived the Bataan Death March, continued to serve his country as the first chairman of the National Science Development Board (which was a precursor to the modern day Department of Science and Technology) and worked to raise the profile of science and technology and how this can help the Philippine nation move forward and develop. I think of all the selfless individuals in the Philippines who fought the Japanese covertly or overtly, the men and women who laid their lives to protect the larger population from Japanese oppression and I marvel at their bravery. I am not sure that I can be that brave or selfless.

We must never forgot what these people went through, what horrors happened. We must never allow this kind of hatred, bigotry and oppression to be experienced by anyone, regardless of the colour of their skin, race, creed, religious beliefs and political views.

I

Thinking of all the individuals who served in the Allied Forces to push back the Nazi Germany onslaught, of all the people who the Nazis thought were disposable, those that survived the concentration camps,those that served in the auxiliary services that kept the nation running.

We must never forgot what these people went through, what horrors happened. We must never allow this kind of hatred, bigotry and oppression to be experienced by anyone, regardless of the colour of their skin, race, creed, religious beliefs and political views.

I would like to think that we are more evolved now as an international population.

We must be honest about what happened in the past. We must be brutal in the discussion of the series of events. We accept that there was and will always be blame to assign in times of strife and war. War happens when someone wants to subjugate another, overpower them, obliterate their culture and mores; when someone believes they are better than others.

Thinking of all the individuals who served in the Allied Forces to push back the Nazi Germany onslaught, of all the people who the Nazis thought were disposable, those that survived the concentration camps,those that served in the auxiliary services that kept the nation running.

We must never forgot what these people went through, what horrors happened. We must never allow this kind of hatred, bigotry and oppression to be experienced by anyone, regardless of the colour of their skin, race, creed, religious beliefs and political views.

I would like to think that we are more evolved now as an international population. We must be vigilant about this. We must fight to maintain our rights, as international citizens, to be who we want to be, to believe what we want to believe and to express our thoughts and opinions. Yes, there should always be rules, because without them, our society would not have order. We must remember that these rules protect these rights that we enjoy and more often than not, take for granted.

But above all, we must remember that we must be guided by love and kindness. If we are guided by love and kindness, everything else follows.

Yelly Writes

Furlough FAQs

Before I start, my caveat is that I started writing this on 25 April. It’s now 6 May. But I’ve checked and the website links are still up to date!

It is, thankfully, Friday.

And it is Day 5 of being on furlough. Really, I should stop counting because it’s going to be a very long wait. The furloughing, according to the letter I received from work, might be up to 3 months. It scares me to think of what 3 months of not doing anything will look like for me. I try to tell myself that I’ll find something to do other than bingeing on TV boxsets. Only 5 days in and I’m losing the ability to communicate!

What I’m afraid the most of is the inertia that seems to fill me when I have no direction during the day. I’m writing in my journal a lot because it’s the physicality of having to sit at a desk and actually DO something that helps me feel not so useless. Of course there are quotes and memes about being kind to yourself at this time, or forgiving yourself for the inactivity, or accepting that these are exceptional circumstances and we’ve never been in this situation, so whatever you’re doing, however much or little, is enough. I get that. In my head that makes sense. But there’s also that whiny inner critic that goes, “well, you’ve got things that you said you would do, that’s on your list, so do them instead of just wallowing in the anxiousness that you can’t explain!” I’m really conflicted.

Also, my body clock is out of whack. Completely. I’m wide awake until about 2:30 in the morning and then I feel horrible during the day. I’m going to make sure I go to bed at around 10PM and stay in bed, even if I’m not sleepy. I really need to discipline myself. The only problem is I’m so jumpy and anxious and I can’t settle.

Anyway, in case you’re like me and you like knowing things (in other words, you’re nosey), and you’re not yet on furlough and you’re wondering whether you or your employer can qualify for the government’s job retention scheme, I’ve added links below to a few helpful sites that might provide you with answers. I’ve tried to make sure these are either proper professional bodies or government website links so that I’m not advertising incorrect information. I hope these links help someone else!

Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (Gov.uk link)

If you’re self-employed can you apply for a grant for assistance? (Gov.uk link)

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Furlough FAQs – where you can download the guide about what furlough is. There is also text that you can read through and a helpful video explaining what is furloughing. When I read it, it was written to apply to an HR person’s perspective, but it does answer a lot of the questions that I had (what is furloughing, how long can they have me on furlough, what about the usual benefits, etc.).

What does it mean if I’ve been furloughed? – This is a BBC explainer and helps put things into perspective and I think the one-liners help simplify things. It explains the realities of what being on furlough means in a language that is accessible.

Covid-19 Guidance for employees, employers and businesses (Gov.uk link)

Hopefully these links help you. Of course if you’re reading this outside the UK, unfortunately, you will have to read something that is more local as employment law will have different provisions in different countries.

Thanks! And I hope you’re all keeping well, staying in and staying safe!

Yelly Writes

On Lockdowns and Furloughs

The beginning of the end started on 13 March 2020.

The situation relating to coronavirus hit the UK shores and it started to escalate (in late February, our building management team announced that one of the tenants tested positive for COVID-19 and, understandably, everyone was worried). The government started encouraging people to work from home if and when they can to avoid being in contact with the general public, to thin out the number of people out. At Drinkaware, we had decided that Friday, 13 March, was going to be the day that we were going to test our office systems and see if we were going to be capable of working from home. The week before that, we were told that we should start bringing our laptops home and our CEO, Finance Director and HR Manager were having daily catch ups and weekly catch ups with the committee that deals with risk. Our directors were expecting the government to suddenly declare a shutdown where people would not be allowed to travel. At the time, it was only a possibility. It didn’t actually dawn on me that the day was a Friday and the date was the 13th. Not that I’m THAT superstitious. It was just a bit ominous.

So we all came back to work on the Monday, the 16th. It was pretty much business as usual, except that of course the situation relating to the coronavirus infection was worsening as the government started learning more about COVID-19. I had a long list of things I wanted to finish, and as the day went on, as usual, I managed to tick some things off the list and some, I planned to finish the next day because I got carried away with other projects.

That evening though, we got a message from our CEO via WhatsApp and by email to say that the office was going to be closed for the foreseeable future. I felt a slight measure of relief because I was fully intending to leave my laptop at work and I had decided to bring my laptop anyway. After reading the email, I decided to still go to the office the following day because I needed to finish off a few things and accept the deliveries that were meant to be arriving on the Tuesday. Also, there was the office fridge that needed clearing of all perishables.

I managed to get a lot of things done and I went home slightly earlier than usual. I was fully intending, as I’d discussed with one of my line managers and my HR manager, to return to the office either on the Thursday or the Friday. To collect post, to check on the fridge and the milk that was left there. I also meant to start the asset tagging because there wouldn’t be anyone at work and I could go in, get my tags printed, zip through the office with my stickers and clipboard and go home and finish my other telephone calls and emails at home. That didn’t happen though. My bosses advised me to stay home, mostly because they were worried about me and how quick I seemed to be catching viruses (I’m diabetic and I’ve found that since I’ve moved here, I’ve been so sickly).

So for the next few weeks after that day, I worked from home. Prior to the pandemic, we’d all been flat out, everyone was busy doing something for some project. The office buzzed with activity and we were all putting in long hours working on various things. During a meeting our leadership team agreed that we would all go on a week-long holiday after Easter Monday. So we were all working towards that REALLY long weekend. It was a 10-day weekend (of course the extra 4 days came out of our holiday allowance, but no one objected)!

Whilst we all worked from home, it became more and more apparent that things wouldn’t be business as usual because we were cutting down on expenditure, writing to our suppliers saying we would be delaying payment for some big-ticket items, etc. People started to worry that we would lose our jobs (it didn’t help that there were several businesses that folded even before we started working from home because of the reduction of customers).

On Monday, 6 April, after an emergency board meeting on the weekend, we were advised, during our Start of the Week meeting, that the board has had to make the difficult decision to furlough some of the staff, in order to protect the trust and prevent job loss. Our board wanted to avoid having to to make any member of staff redundant. The government had already announced the Job Retention Scheme. So our directors had to make the difficult calls to half of the office, to tell members of staff that they would have to be furloughed. Our super HR manager prepared an FAQs document for all our questions and she let everyone have her number so that if we were worried about anything and needed to talk.

I can’t say I was surprised that I got the furlough call. I mean, apart from being EA to the CEO and the Finance Director, I was also office manager. How do you work as an office manager without an office to manage? Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job. I love my bosses. I love our senior leadership team and I love my colleagues. Working for Drinkaware is more pleasure and privilege than a job. Mostly because the environment is so different. It’s so collaborative, and there is genuine love for everyone. It’s nice when the environment is like that; less territorial, more inclusive.

To be fair, I am actually better off being on furlough, even if my salary is about a fifth less. Factoring in how astronomic train fares now are, even with 20% less, I’m still much better.

I can’t deny that I am worried about the future, that I am thinking about whether there will be any redundancies. However, right now, I am confident that we will be told with enough notice, if this was the case. Because the communication lines are always open at Drinkaware. Whatever the future holds, right now, I am best placed staying in, away from the general public.

Yelly Writes

Easter thoughts

I have so much to be thankful for today. Not only is it Easter Sunday, today marks 49 years since my parents promised to love each other for richer or poorer, through sickness and in health. I’m sure whilst they were publicly declaring their love for each other 49 years ago, they didn’t know that circumstances in the future would ask for real-time declarations of those vows. But every second that they’re together, I see how they live those vows. I am glad that I am one of those people who actually know their parents love each other, wholly, completely and unconditionally.

God promised to love us in the same way, through the good and bad days, through happy and sad days, through days of feast or famine. He declares His love to to us daily, so that we know, so that we are secure in the knowledge that HE LOVES US ABOVE ALL OTHERS. He even went as far as to offer up His own much beloved Son to stand in our place, so that His Son would pay the price of our sins on our behalf. This ultimate sacrifice is why we have Easter Sunday, and all the celebrations that go with it.

This Easter Sunday, I rejoice in the knowledge that God loves ME THAT MUCH. I am grateful that His love for me is unconditional. I am thankful that God has allowed us, my siblings and I, most especially, to witness the love and devotion our parents have for each other, and to remind us daily of how much His love exceeds that many times over. 

We are so very loved, each and everyone of us. I hope that in the midst of family celebrations (virtual or otherwise), during self-isolation and social distancing, during this completely unprecedented period of global uncertainty, we focus on how unconditionally loved we are, how blessed we are to be loved this completely. 

Happy Easter!

Yelly Writes

Stay home!

We’re in this for the long haul. We’re literally held hostage by this microscopic collection of nuclei acid, proteins and lipids. It’s not even an organism. It’s not even alive!

I’ve never been unaware of the risk. I know the consequences and the reality of things. But when a family friend dies, he was a gifted cardiologist working the front lines in Manila, and a dear friend from my call centre days falls ill enough to be put on a ventilator in a hospital in New York, it hits home. It hits home in the hardest way.

Please everyone, I beg you, stay home. Keep away from people. If only to protect yourself from catching it and giving it to someone else. Wash your hands so you don’t get the virus and spread it. Please don’t think you’re invincible. We’re all at risk, others at a higher risk that the rest. I beg you to think of how your actions will affect everyone else. We’re all in this pond together. No matter what everyone says, we’re all inextricably linked.

Yelly Writes

How are you?

Hi there! Thanks for dropping by. How are you? It’s been quite an intense few days in the UK. So, like a lot of people, I’m feeling a little ambivalent about…everything.

On Friday, 13 March, our offices closed for a dry run and to test whether our systems were robust enough to handle everyone working from home. Everything worked. Of course there were little hiccups, but nothing a call to our IT support company couldn’t deal with via telephone and by accessing our computers remotely. So the working from home experiment worked.

On Monday, we returned to the office but it was a quiet Monday. I have several colleagues who don’t work Mondays and a few were working off-site that day. We’re a small organisation anyway, but without a full house, the office felt empty-ish. The day was busy, as it usually is for me. But spirits were high and there was a lot of happy chatter in the office. We were, of course, worried about the coronavirus but we were taking precautions, trying to be clean, trying not to touch our faces, sneezing/coughing into tissue and binning it, washing our hands, looking after each other, and listening to the news updates.

That evening, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced the newest measures that the government were taking to prevent the spread of the virus. If people could work from home, they should. There shouldn’t be any unnecessary travel. People should follow social distancing. Avoid gathering in large groups. All sensible and necessary advice that should, if followed, prevent the spread of illness. So our senior leadership team at work decided it was time to close our doors and allow everyone to work from the relative safety of their homes.

So the following Tuesday, off I went to the office, did office managery things: checked the air-conditioning temperature in the server room, made sure the faucets weren’t leaking, emptied the fridge of perishables and made sure things, supplies were put away as appropriate. I wasn’t alone though. Our Finance director and HR manager also had the same idea as me. I ended up working a full day anyway and went home loaded like a pack mule

It’s now Day 8 of fully working from home. I’m exhausted, physically and mentally. Properly working from home is quite the intense experience. I think I feel overwrought because I’m constantly on”Go”, if that makes any sense and although I take regular breaks, I still don’t switch off. The phone will ring and I pick up. An email comes in, I address it as soon as possible.

They say you need to follow a routine, a schedule, that you need to take breaks. I have done that. But I’m going to go a few things further: I’m going to pack my bag up with my laptop and I will be switching off my office mobile and not switching it on until late Sunday evening. I need to properly switch off.

We’re all in this together, and in it for the long haul. We don’t know how long this epidemic will last. I just hope people will heed the request from the authorities and practice social distancing. It’s apparent that that’s quite necessary. I hope people understand that if they don’t follow these guidelines, people WILL die. It’s no longer a case of if, it’s the case of when.

Yelly Writes

The jaundiced eye of prejudice

If people are really hateful and disgusting in the way they treat other people, that probably came from a hurt place – but then, when does it stop? When does this spiral end?

— Lauren Mayberry

In the nearly 12 years I’ve lived in the UK, I’ve never experienced overt racism or harassment …until tonight.

I’d bought hot food and was carrying my backpack, my lunch bag and 2 carrier bags of hot food. I didn’t expect the Greater Anglia 17:02 train to be busy but after the cancellations, I should’ve expected it. I got on a fairly empty train, with about 8 minutes before the train left and there were so many empty seats. So I placed the bags of hot food next to me. Whilst the train was filling up, I was mentally rearranging my bags so that I could quickly move things around because I didn’t think anyone would look too kindly about my letting my food sit on a seat that someone else could occupy.

This man got on and to me really slowly, and really loudly, “Put your bags on the floor.” I said to him that it was food so I didn’t want to move it to the floor. I was still trying to figure out how to balance my bags of food and other bags. I think he got tired of waiting for me and said loudly, “FFS!” He flounced off and sat down next to this woman in a 6-seater section. He said quite audibly, because I could hear him across the aisle, “Stupid Chinese.” The woman he sat next to laughed and said sympathetically, “You wouldn’t want her virus anyway.”

I am outspoken and am liable to say whatever comes to mind. But tonight I didn’t know how to say the things that were going through in my mind. I was incensed and I had things to say, but I couldn’t say them. I was screaming in my head. I wanted to cry but I didn’t want to give that man and that woman the satisfaction that they’d got to me. I hate how I felt. I felt so injured and angry but so inept and helpless. 

At the same time, I knew that if I’d said exactly what was going on in my head, I would never be able to live with myself, for saying the cruelly sharp words that I wanted to throw back at them. Because I know that once you say them, you can’t ever take them back. Even now, I cringe at the abusive words that were reverberating in my head at the time. I’m glad I didn’t give them utterance.

I try to tell myself that racism is a result of narrow-mindedness, of fear of the unfamiliar, of ignorance and arrogance, and education will help cure all that. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes people are just hurtful and cruel. Sometimes it’s just mean-spiritedness and cruelty, and there’s no cure for that.