Along with thousands of others across the North of England at Christmas last year, my home was 'washed out' by the worst floods on record - and I suspect that a significant proportion of my fellow flood victims will, like me, also be self-employed and based from home as well, so hit with the 'double-whammy' of the floods not only having displaced us (and our families) from our homes, but also impacting on our livelihoods too (as if running your own business wasn't already stressful enough at the best of times...)
And while the initial rallying of community spirit has been fantastic in dealing with the immediate aftermath of the waters, there are growing concerns amongst local business communities as to how well people will be able to restore their livelihoods - an initial survey of businesses in my local area found nearly half believe it may be up to 6 months before they can recommence trading. And as great as public donations are, these can only go to affected households, to replace lost clothes, furniture, and such like, and not to businesses to help maintain the lives of the same local people and their communities;
The local Council, Calderdale, has made a great initial response to support local businesses, but it too is limited by criteria and eligibility checks which means that hundreds of micro-businesses, freelancers, and sole traders who are otherwise 'below the radar' in not having dedicated business premises, paying rates, or being VAT-registered, will have to find their own sources of recovery support.
So just as we did as householders, we therefore turn to ourselves again as businesses to offer each other a helping hand: I've been working with the relatively new Todmorden Business Network to try and map and collate what support there might be for local business to make sure people don't miss out; a number of businesses have come together to form the world's first crowdfunding campaign for a collection of businesses; and I've also been trying to encourage the development of other forms of support - such as the Hit The Rocks fund from Enterprise Rockers.
But all of these things take time - time that we would normally be spending running our businesses and with our families.
The nature of works our home needs to be restored means that we can't live in it for potentially up to 6 months - as a family we're physically displaced until then.
Thankfully we have relatives along the valley who have been able to not only offer us spare beds, but also temporarily rearrange their rooms and own lives to offer us space and support over this period. As for working, I'm having to develop a new mindset of being more of a digital nomad and needing to factor in having less time that I'm used to owing to having to plan more carefully about where I can work from, travel arrangements, and such like.
But life continues - it's a new lifestyle that we'll get used to eventually, and I know others are suffering far more than I.
But that doesn't stop it hurting when I'm with others who are talking about how to best support businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the flooding and I realise I'm sometimes the only one around the table that's living it...
So - this has been rather different to my usual posts here, but it isn't meant as a sob story or plea for alms, but rather a polite request to give anyone you meet over the next 6 months who's been affected by floods a little more patience and time while we resume 'normal service'.