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Face masks: The feelings behind the fabric

By Emily Byrne

Header Image by Tony Hazek

Welcome to the weird world of Covid-19 where the new normal means wearing a mask to cover your face. Nobody looks human and it reminds us of the deadly virus out there. As from 24th July 2020 it became mandatory in the UK to wear a face mask in all shops and on public transport. This article explores how wearing a face mask makes us feel, in the UK, the US and globally. It provides suggestions on how we might tackle the anxiety associated with wearing a face mask and change our thoughts and behaviours as we face this new normal. With thanks to Simon Erksine and Commpro.biz for inspiring this article: https://www.commpro.biz/masks-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-we-need-to-overcome-mask-phobia/

The UK, the US and the anti-mask movement

Although most are compliant, mask-wearing is just one example in the Coronavirus pandemic highlighting the significant gap between what we are being asked to do and what many are doing.

Certainly is the case in the UK, that the government’s own disregard for the rules (I’m sure we all remember Dominic Cummings’ infamous lockdown tour) and the ambiguity surrounding what the ever-changing rules actually are results in some disobedience.

Let’s take a look at the US, where face-masks have sparked a political debate and the anti-mask movement. As the President, Donald Trump should be setting an example for the country… (don’t get me started). Trump’s refusal to wear a mask mirrors the attitude of many in the states. It also provides an excuse for many US citizens not to take this basic step. So begins the anti-mask movement.

Although they’re actually just a piece of cloth to protect us against contracting and spreading coronavirus, many of the US population see face masks as an attack on individual freedom, as outlined by this article from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jun/29/face-masks-us-politics-coronavirus

Without generalizing, polls suggest that Democrats are largely more inclined to wear face masks in public, than Republicans. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are political figures symbolizing the for and against mask movement. Ever the controversial, Trump accused Biden of wearing a face mask as a political statement against his presidency. Perhaps Biden wears a mask to protect his own health, Mr President? Just a thought.

Reopen NC are a group based in North Carolina who oppose lockdown orders. They called masks “muzzles” and said face masks and mandatory temperature checks were “ways of [their] freedom being eroded.” The group sparked a social media movement and founded the “Burn Your Mask Challenge”, which encourages people to post videos of them burning their face masks under the hashtag #IgniteFreedom.
Local leaders met in Palm Beach, Florida, to hear people speak in public about why they were so anti-masks. Anger was voiced that masks “throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door” and concerns over a “plan-demic” conspiracy theory were heard. Pretty nuts, huh?

Without leadership from the top, we need leadership from the bottom-up. We all need to set an example and take the basic initiative to wear a mask when required, in order to protect ourselves, our families, friends and communities.

The erosion of social interaction

Let’s talk about the psychology of masks, behavioural change and what we can do to make wearing a mask a little less anxiety-inducing.

Ed Jones, Lead Marketing Strategist at YUDU gave me his opinion on how wearing a face mask makes him feel:

“Personally, I don’t like face masks. Of course, I understand the need to wear one, which I always do when I’m in a shop. But it’s not a pleasant experience, I constantly feel like I’m breathing recycled warm air. I also don’t like the way it interferes with my social interactions. It’s much harder to see people’s reactions, sharing a smile is a thing of the past. Honestly, I hope this is a passing phase and we can soon return to some semblance of normal.”

Ed raised such a valuable point which really got me thinking. When the ability to socially interact with those around us in public is taken away (the smile at a stranger passing in the street or the lady at the corner shop), how does this affect us psychologically?

Face masks definitely restrict our social interaction, particularly the small interactions with those we haven’t met or encounter whilst undertaking our daily journeys and duties. Many who already feel lonely or isolated in society (particularly post-lockdown) may depend on these meaningful everyday interactions to achieve a sense of feeling human and face masks restrict this. Face masks set up social barriers and avenues for misunderstanding.

Barriers are further increased for those with disabilities. In a survey conducted by Disability Rights UK, 40% of disabled people feared challenge when travelling on public transport with face masks. Consider those with impaired hearing, using lip reading to get through conversation. 13% said wearing a mask would prevent them from lip reading. Just under half of those asked said mental health conditions or breathing impairments would prevent them from wearing a mask. It is worth considering exemptions can be made for those with disabilities which make them unable to wear a face mask and for those who this might cause major destress. Still, Sadly, for many, conversation in public may be a thing of the past. See the full results of the survey here: https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/june/40-fear-challenge-without-face-masks-dr-uk-survey

The mind and the mask

There’s no denying that wearing a mask is a truly unpleasant experience, though we can shift our way of thinking when it comes to mask wearing so our rational brains can win out. As displayed by the uproar in the US, changing our behaviours to benefit others is generally much harder than when we change our behaviours for ourselves. However, it’s ourselves as well as others we’re protecting by wearing a face mask.

Behavioural change is often a slow process, requiring a conscious evaluation that the benefits of change outweigh the consequences of doing nothing at all. In this case, change has been thrust upon us in order to save lives and we must do all we can to embrace it. The consequences of doing nothing could be life-threatening. So, here’s what you can do to make wearing a face mask a little less daunting.

• Diaphragmatic breathing

Try breathing from the diaphragm, which will make your tummy expand in and out, instead of your chest going up and down, indicative of shallow breathing. Spend more time exhaling than inhaling. Perhaps inhale for three seconds and exhale for four.

• Repeat a mantra

Try repeating a word, phrase of even sound which helps you focus. If you’re concerned about getting strange looks, you can repeat this mantra to yourself in your head. Maybe this is something as simple as: ‘This too shall pass’. It’s scientifically proven that repeating a mantra can help regulate breathing and slow down physical responses.

• Practice mindfulness

Focus on what’s happening in the present moment instead of immersing yourself in self-created worries and negative thoughts.

• Aromatherapy

Inhaling essential oils such as lavender and orange oils can relieve anxiousness and encourage a sense of calm relaxation. Perhaps try these natural remedies out before your trip to the supermarket to help uplift your spirits.

I hope the above tips help to alleviate your face mask anxieties. With thanks and credit to Beak Speak: https://blog.beekley.com/why-protective-face-masks-make-you-feel-anxious-and-what-you-can-do-to-cope

Having fun with it: Funk up your face mask

Why not take inspiration from celebsville and treat your face mask as this year’s hottest new fashion accessory?

Many keen sewers are making money and helping the community all at once by selling handmade face masks. Why not chop up one of your favourite fabrics and give it a go yourself?

Personalised face masks are an excellent way to bring some positivity to these bleak times. Order and adorn a mask with your favourite punk band, characters from a beloved TV show, or even an inspirational quote on it. Whatever it is, be sure to have some fun with it!

How about copying the A-listers and coordinating your outfit with you mask? It’s called FASH-HUN and it will look extra as anything. Here’s a few examples:

Any and all of the above tips will make mask-wearing more fun, less daunting and feel less clinical and other-worldly.

Face masks in other cultures

Perhaps our reservations about wearing face masks stem from the difficulty: this is not part of our usual culture. It’s a change we’re all getting used to together in the UK and which faces major opposition in some cases in the US.
Simon Erksine comments on the practice of wearing face masks in Japan, where he lived for many years.

“In Japan, individual behaviours are much more focused on benefiting society as a whole. The wearing of masks is normal. It has a social and individual purpose. Vast numbers of Japanese suffer hay fever from the pollen of non-indigenous pine trees, but the Japanese also wear masks to protect from others’ potential illnesses as well as to protect others from theirs. In fact, if you have a cold it is basic manners to wear a mask.”

Erksine reminds us that in wearing a mask, you are doing something to benefit society. Read his full article here: https://www.commpro.biz/masks-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-we-need-to-overcome-mask-phobia/

Take-aways

Wearing a mask is something we’re not used to, it’s caused a small culture-war in the US, it takes away social interaction, creates barriers for those with disabilities and can have a negative affect on our psychology and mental health. However, whilst hoping normality returns sometime soon, in an attempt to overcome mask-phobia we should consider a new way of thinking and remember the facts behind the fabric.

Wearing a mask will protect you and others. Although cloth masks aren’t a prophylactic or can guarantee you won’t get the virus, just like seat belts, they will reduce the risk of spread and contagion if we use them correctly. For now, let’s focus on the fact face masks allow us to take better care of ourselves and the community around us during Covid-19. They really can save lives.

Featured

Beating the Covid blues: Five ways YUDU staff have kept creative during lockdown

By Emily Byrne

Header Image by Gemma O’Brien

Covid19 and lockdown restrictions meant we’ve all had a lot more time to spend at home and become a little more creative. Whether this meant picking up a paintbrush, reading a book or dusting off the knitting needles, we’ve all benefited from a little extra me-time.

As lockdown measures ease and we’re able to visit pubs, shops and gyms, here at YUDU we’ll definitely be holding on to our creative pursuits. Here’s what we’ve been up to during lockdown.

Reading writing and blogging

This lockdown, I’ve taken the advice of my colleague Jim Preen: ‘Read, read, read. Write, write, write.’ I know that reading and writing will expand my vocabulary and improve my content. I’ve been blogging about all things business, sustainability and mental health on: https://sustainokuk.wordpress.com/ Shameless plug, I know.

Here are a couple of cracking books I’ve read and what they’ve taught me:

How to Fail by Elisabeth Day

I found the chapters ‘How to fail at being Gwyneth Paltrow’ and ‘How to Fail at Work’ particularly useful, not to say hilarious.

‘How to Fail at being Gwyneth Paltrow’ journals Elisabeth’s attempt at following Gwyneth’s health plan, consisting of ridiculous treatment after treatment in boutique LA beauty bars. Day concludes this was more like a full-time job, than anything else and it really does pay to ‘look good’. This chapter taught me to become more accepting of my body and to love all it does for me. After all, when I’m much older, I’ll look back and regret all the time I spent worrying about my figure. Beauty is definitely more than skin deep, after all.

‘How to Fail at Work’ reinforced the fact it’s OK to make mistakes. I remember being told during my interview at YUDU, that if you make a mistake; learn from it. Work is somewhere we should thrive and grow. I used this chapter as a tool to reflect and realise how lucky I am to be both pushed and trusted in a role I love.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Not only was Normal People one of my favourite books EVER… (yes, it really is as good as the AMAZING TV series), it allowed me to question ‘What qualifies a person as normal?’ and ‘Do normal people in fact even exist?’ To this, I found the answer to be no. We are all intrinsically complex beings, just trying to muddle our way through life and at present, trying to muddle through a pandemic. Our differences and quirks are what make us unique and the novel encouraged me to celebrate this.

James O’ Brien – Director of Customer Engagement

Here’s one you didn’t expect: James creates fantastic works of art using potatoes, he really is a Golden Wonder. During lockdown he held a series of potato-printing webinars, where eager members of the public, including myself, were able to try their hand at printing with spuds. It was honestly so much fun. Take a look at the results, by Gemma Smith and I.

Into the bargain James raised money for charity. He agreed to make potato portraits of famous footballers in return for some ready cash to support foodbanks. Take a look at my potato print of Frank Lampard, here.

image1

Jim Preen – Director of Crisis Management

I spoke to Jim and asked what he had been up to and he had a question for me:

‘Emily, did lockdown leave you feeling lowdown? Has the pandemic made you feel less than angelic? I have the answer: play the bass guitar!

I’ve played regular guitar for years, but I was stuck in a musical rut. I wanted something good to come out of lockdown, so I contacted a young whizz-kid bass player and he gives me lesson every Saturday on Skype. He needs the money as all his gigs have dried up and in return, he’s somehow managed to turn me into a tolerable member of the rhythm section.

Of course, being a bass player means you’re the butt of terrible jokes: Q. How do you get a bass player off your doorstep? A. Pay for the pizza. But on the bright side you’d suffer much more abuse being a drummer.’

Thanks for that Jim, perhaps you could get someone to help you write better jokes! Maybe it’s time to put a company band together.

Gemma Smith – Graphic Designer

Our uber-talented graphic designer, Gemma Smith has been hosting events for her and her housemate at their London flat. Even though such events are attended by the duo alone, fancy dress is compulsory. Gemma called it: ‘Creating worlds and events within the small space we’re stuck in.’ Their events have included a reimagining of The MET Gala, Jazzercise classes, a Broadway musical night and a recreation of the catwalk, inspired by the Netflix hit-show, Next in Fashion… which we have both become obsessed with. Does your creativity ever cease Gemma!?

Richard Stephenson – YUDU CEO

Richard, our multi-skilled CEO, talks about writing children’s short stories during lockdown.

I read a quote from our great playwright Tom Stoppard that writing a play was like smashing a glass ashtray: you work backwards by assembling the broken pieces.

That got me wondering if I could construct some short stories using this technique. Lockdown writing was underway! It became a very rewarding experiment; pushing the boundaries of my imagination. I was able to start developing characters almost like a sculptor, shaping them from the clay of people I’ve known and met over the years. I now have five stories that I can chuckle over and when we get back to near normal, I hope I will continue to write. Now, how do I find a publisher?

As you can see, we’ve all been super busy following our creative pursuits here at YUDU. We’ve used our extra me-time to hone new skills and pursue new hobbies.

So, here’s the question: what creative pursuits have you been up to? We’d love to hear from you.

Featured

Skincare self-love review

By Emily Byrne

I’ve come to realise that our skin is something which is always with us and that self-care goes hand in hand with self love and self appreciation. With some challenging life changes as of late, a busy work schedule and a global pandemic chucked into the mix… it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a few months. My new obsession means that I take twenty minutes out at the end of each day to pamper and preen.

I’ve always had hormonal spots and flare ups and my skin is a little oily, but skincare was something I hadn’t invested in other than the standard cleanse and exfoliate prior to lockdown. My amazing friends shared some of their personal favourites and seriously… I’ll never look back. One thing’s for sure I’ve got my glow-(up) and sparkle back. ✨ here are a few of my favourite treats and my nightly routine for those who need some skin-love assurance.

Cleanse

I couldn’t go without my Liz. Our girl supplies us with cucumber fresh nourishment, a very gentle foam and a little bit goes a long way. My desert island skincare product. You feel so fresh after cleansing. Wait… why haven’t I got the exfoliater yet? I’ve heard rave reviews.

Although I won’t be deviating away from using my girl Liz, there’s a certain something on the cleansing wish list. And that’s Glow Recipe’s

Glow

Ole Hendreksen’s products were recommended to me by my best friend Kate and I won’t be going back on the glow front. Ole’s Clementine C Cream is a tangerine dream 🍊 and I noticed a brightened sunned glow after applying as part of my regular regime and a day in the sun (with sun cream and SPF of course!) The Ole Truth serum smells equally divine and is so refreshing, leaving your skin with a next-day, noticeable glow and healthy shine. Ole hits the hat trick with their Banana Eye Cream. I’ve always had dark circles under my eyes… made worse by me burning the midnight all this lockdown. The eye cream has lifted these dark circles considerably and as a result my face looks lighter and brighter. It has to be said… this cream doesn’t smell as good as it’s predecessors… but I’ll most definitely be re-purchasing once my little wonder pot runs out. A little goes a long way with this product, I found.

Zit-bust

I will 1 million percent be re-purchasing my Clinique Anti-Belmish solution. There’s so much to love about this product. Thank you for helping me say see ya to my spots. They are dried out in a day so it’s essential to only use a little of what claims to be an ‘all over application overnight solution’… as it does leave during. But honestly I can’t sing this products praising enough. Plus, it’s bright blue and so is the packaging. 💦

Tone

On the toning front, I’m lusting after Liz once again. Her cucumber toner is light and refreshing and is super easy to use. Simply polish of your cleanse and polish routine with a few sublime spritzes. You really feel like you’re spraying the day away.

Hold the phone… this toning section wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out about Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Toner and Pore Tightener. This bottle of beauty smells just like Watermelon as it says on the tin and works genuine WONDERS. I used to have really dark, visible pores and blackheads, particularly on my nose, which used to bug me out. But, no word of a lie, this sensational serum eliminated my visible pores in two days max. Results were visible the morning after the night out of the first application.

Moisturise

Even if it was £42 a pot… Glow Recipe’s Banana soufflé Moisturising cream smells good enough to eat. (Don’t eat it… it can’t be good for you!) It’s fluffy cloud-like, light texture and gorgeous smell leaves your skin super smooth, plump and refreshed and feels just like sticking your entire face in a banoffee pie… what’s not to love!?

Although I rave about Ole’s serums, I wasn’t too crazy about his moisturiser. There was nothing wrong with the little pot of wonder I received and it certainly left my skin feeling more dewy… but the price tag attached was a bit of a turn-off when combined with no overly-significant transformation.

Take-aways

If you don’t want to spend a bomb on skincare and have a whole tray full of products (like I have this lockdown), then here’s a little take-away for free. I’ve come to realise, although it’s hard and I’m still extremely self-critical, as we all are… beauty isn’t an outsider’s opinion. It in fact comes from within and one of the most beautiful traits anyone can have is confidence. My skincare routine has provided me with exactly that… a sense of nighttime routine for someone who struggles to wind down and a means to relax. So go on guys, soothe your skin and your mind at the same time.

Featured

Sentinel Check-in: You don’t need wifi or an app for the taps

By Emily Byrne and James O’Brien

With reference to: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/pubs-opening-rules-contact-tracing

By Matt Burgess

Header image by Gemma Smith

Super Saturday saw the easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of pubs across the UK. With thousands of thirsty punters who’d been locked up for months unleashed, did wifi and app-based Track and Trace solutions see things running as smoothly as they should have?

Guest wifi and apps are well known treasure troves for cyber criminals to access your data. With pub chain owners using wifi connections and apps to Track and Trace their customers – How can visitors be sure that what they’re connecting to is secure?

Rowenna Fielding head of individual rights and ethics at data protection consultancy Protecture, advises:

‘If you’re unsure of how information is being handled, ask the pub. “Ask questions about how is it going to be stored? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to delete it? If those questions aren’t or can’t be answered, then maybe you’re better off having a drink somewhere else.’

Weary about wifi: The questions on our lips

Pub chains using wifi to Track and Trace their punters claim that logging on to a network is the easy option. Really? Register with an email address, forgetting your password, resetting your password. There is a queue behind you. Accessing your registration email, showing the email to the bar staff, all before a pint is pulled. Easy?

There are also issues around the email addressed used to register – you can technically register with any email address – if the track and trace team might want to contact the customer – how can the pub be sure that the email address is being monitored? It could be days or weeks before the customer acknowledges the email.

Going down the wifi route also opens up your customers to cyber criminals – whose sophisticated techniques can take over devices in an instant. The anti-social engineer explains how this is done here: https://theantisocialengineer.com/2020/03/20/how-low-will-they-go/

https://www.yudu.com/resources/webinar/cyber-security-with-antisocial-engineer

Does an app really have your back?

Older people and technophobes will be alienated by the fact they have to download an app, enter their log in details and host the app on their phone to enter many pubs. Many might not have a Smartphone, (20% of the population in the UK don’t), or know how to install an app. We’re not all tech-whizzes and that’s OK.

Say you want to visit a few pubs post-lockdown (we don’t blame you!), are you going to download a different app for every pub you enter? That’s asking a lot from the customer, who just wants to order a pint, or a cocktail – it’s been 12 weeks.

Data Disaster – Why pen and paper won’t work

In other countries whose bars and restaurants have used manual data-sheet registration to Track and Trace their customers, there have been incidents of female customers receiving unsolicited and undesirable messages from bar-staff. This approach means that customers are likely to provide fictional data.

All it takes is a member of staff (or the public, if the sheets are on display) to take a note of or a picture of your personal data and they’ve got you. Your name, address, email, phone number.

As a young female this really doesn’t sit right with me and I certainly wouldn’t give accurate ID as a result. So how is this an effective way of collecting important information?

Vinod Bange, head of data practice at global law firm Taylor Wessing advises: ‘There will be risks for pubs and other businesses whether they adopt a low-tech paper approach […] or use an app to collect data.’

Just because something’s familiar, doesn’t mean it’s the data-secure option.

Sentinel Check-in: Your simple solution

With Sentinel Check-in, there’s no friction for the customer – simply scan the QR code on your chosen pub’s poster at entrance or ring their number. A SMS will automatically come through to you and to the pub, confirming the date and time of your entry. Tap straight to the taps in less than 20 seconds. It’s swift, safe and secure, so you can enjoy your pint in peace.

Our system in agnostic and inclusive, encouraging use for anyone that wants to walk into a pub.

See for yourself and Try a demo: https://www.yudu.com/sentinel-check-in/demo

Register your pub and be setup in under 24 hours: https://www.yudu.com/sentinel-check-in/register

Featured

Literary lockdown: Five books to promote your personal development

By Emily Byrne, Marketing Executive at YUDU Sentinel

Header Image by Gemma Smith, Graphic Designer at YUDU Sentinel

Here at YUDU we’re promoting a proactive and productive lockdown. Reading has definitely benefited my own well-being and given me the opportunity to be mindful and find a little safe space away from the chaos of Covid-19. I’ve been using my extra time to read into personal development, finding out how I can be a better version of myself. Here are five book recommendations from our team – all of which promote personal development in some way.

1) Emily Byrne: Marketing Executive – ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod

‘The Miracle Morning’ follows the journey of Hal Elrod, beginning with a car accident, which leaves him in a life-changing comma. When Hal wakes, his long-term girlfriend leaves him and he must learn to walk again. Elrod goes on to excel in a sales career he was previously resenting and eventually run his own highly successful consultancy.

‘The Miracle Morning’ states in order to become successful you have to dedicate time to personal development each day. Elrod provides a 6-step morning routine to shape that time, with chapter names such as; ‘Affirmations’ and ‘Mediation’.

Elrod asks what stops us chasing our dreams and living ‘level ten’ versions of our lives. Above all, the book reminded me, in light of Covid-19, life is a blessing and every day is a new opportunity to succeed, develop and focus on achieving our goals and dreams.

2) Emily Byrne: Marketing Executive – ‘Things I Know About Love’ by Dolly Alderton

Sorry… because I couldn’t pick just one.

This charming little novel written by Sunday Times columnist and girl-power journalist, Dolly Alderton, is not so much about self-help, but self-realisation. After all, learning to love yourself is essential, before you can love anyone else.

Dolly’s hilarious accounts of drunken taxi journeys across the entire country to visit one-night stands, first-date faux pas and underwhelming meet ups with boys following MSN conversations are suddenly undercut by the tragic death of her best friends’ sister.

This event forces Dolly to face her demons and undertake a course of intensive therapy. During the therapy, Dolly discovers that we live to love ourselves and the love found in friendship can be everlasting and unconditional.

3) Richard Stephenson: CEO – ‘The School of Life: An Emotional Education’ by Alain de Botton

“Everybody should read ‘The School of Life: An Emotional Education’ by Alain de Botton, particularly during the Covid-19 crisis. I truly believe this book will help people deal with the emotional impact of this crisis and focus on personal development.

Based on emotional education and personal resilience, Alain de Botton prompts us to question how we manage ourselves, tackle our problems and how these problems might correspond with the rest of the world.

‘The School of Life’ will provide you with the wisdom and tools needed to deal with Covid-19 emotionally and will enable you to empathise with those affected. A must read.”

4) Jim Preen: Director of Crisis Management – ‘Into the silence’ by Wade Davis

“I’m not sure ‘Into the silence’ is any kind of self-help or personal development manual, but then again it might be both those things. When men returned from the Western Front in 1918 having miraculously survived the machine age butchery of the trenches, they found an England desperate to forget the war. For many the thought of settling back into twee English tea parties, croquet lawns and cricket was unthinkable.

Today, because of coronavirus, we hear a lot of statistics about mortality rates and the numbers of excess deaths. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme, British forces suffered 20,000 excess deaths, all young men who in normal circumstances had no reason to perish.

‘Silence’ is the story of George Mallory and the men who couldn’t stand prim Georgian England and headed to Everest and the thin air of the Himalayas to find some kind of redemption. They climbed in not much more than tweed suits stuffed with feathers and had to walk 400 miles just to reach base camp.

Their notes and letters home are preserved, so often the men seem to speak directly to the reader. It’s a long book, more than 500 pages, but might just be the thing you need during lockdown. From the trenches to the top of the world, it’s quite a read.

I suppose my real personal development book is Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course. I learnt to cook using her recipes, which any fool can follow. If it hadn’t been for the owner of Norwich City football club, I’d probably have starved.”

5) James O’Brien: Director of Customer Engagement – ‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell

“Outliers examines the patterns that elevate individuals to become successful in their chosen field. A must read for anyone who continues to beat themselves up about their career or individual pursuit. Gladwell leads the reader to examine your own circumstances against a different yardstick as becoming a success is certainly not linear or straightforward.”

We really hope you can take something from these recommendations and use this troubling time to focus on becoming the best version of you, whatever that might mean… or even to focus on just getting through.

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Five tips to help reduce your child’s lockdown anxieties

By Emily Byrne, Marketing Executive at YUDU

Header Image by Simon Rae

What can parents do to make sure their children aren’t anxious and overwhelmed about the Coronavirus crisis?

YUDU’s Creative Director and father of two, Charlie Stephenson gave gleaming advice on how parents can help their child to deal with Covid-19 woes. Look out for Charlie’s pearls of wisdom throughout the blog.

“Each child and age group will react differently to the news about Coronavirus. Children are like sponges and if their parents are anxious, children will likely be anxious about everything, so it is really important for parents to look after their health the best they can.”

Read these five tips for all age groups to find out how you can help your child… and yourself, cope with Covid-19.

1) Get on the same page

We must talk to children about Coronavirus in a language they understand. Answer any questions and reassure children in an age appropriate manner. Although you might not know all the answers to your child’s question, talking things through will help them feel calmer and get rid of those niggling worries. Tell your child it’s completely okay to feel scared or unsure and encourage them this will pass.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern held a press conference on Coronavirus specifically for children last month. She used a familiar metaphor to communicate the pressure now on essential keyworkers to children.

‘The Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are essential keyworkers.’

Ardern further used the metaphor to explain why children need to support keyworkers and the vulnerable in their community:

‘I say to the children of New Zealand, if the Easter Bunny doesn’t make it to your household… then we have to understand it’s perhaps a bit difficult for the bunny to make it everywhere.’

Remind your child that we are all working together to do as much as we can to fight the virus and that we’re staying inside to stop the virus spreading and to support keyworkers. Perhaps this is where Ardern’s anecdote may come in handy.

2) Soap and glory

Handwashing can be exciting? We hear you cry. At the press conference for children, Ardern was accompanied by Dr Michelle Dickinson, who specialises in science communication for children. Use fun online resources to be sure your children are scrubbing accordingly.

Dr Dickinson shared a video online this week explaining how soap actually works. The video has become a viral hit, prompting Dickinson to produce more clips as the crisis unfolds.

So, how does soap destroy Covid-19?

According to Dr Dickinson’s video, it’s thanks to the molecules of soap and the double fat coat (or lipid bilayer) that surrounds the virus.

The video boasted some interactivity as well, with children asking questions about the virus, how it’s transmitted and how to keep their grandparents safe.

3) Replace bad news with positive thoughts

In the current age the news can’t be avoided. You shouldn’t try and shield your child from the news. However, the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 guidelines suggest only viewing the news once a day. Pass on WHO’s advice to your child and emphasise that not everything they see online should be trusted as concrete news.

Be sure to speak to your child about what they’re viewing without prying on their independence. Or, watch the news with your kids so they don’t view the bad stuff without you. Remind your child to counteract the news by focussing on things which make them feel safe and happy.

Parents of younger children might want to avoid news-watching entirely, as Charlie explains:

“I don’t watch the news with the children, partly because they are too young and will get bored of it, but I don’t see the need to keep them informed of the situation as it develops. I just keep up to date with stuff on my mobile through news apps.”

News apps are a brilliant way of keeping track of events whilst keeping negative news feeds away from the comfort of the home environment.

4) Home-schooling: Reinvigorate your routine

Make the most of interactive resources like Joe Wicks’ PE at 9am every weekday or educational TV programmes such as Horrible Histories and Blue Planet. Watching all of David Attenborough should be essential to the curriculum anyway, surely?

You could design family crests, organise sports days or steal Annie Mac’s idea and surprise your child with history lessons on rave, northern soul or punk. Boost morale by painting rainbows to display on your windows to show thanks for the NHS and other key workers.

Remember, things don’t have to be super strict like school. Exams being postponed and cancelled alleviates pressure and be sure to remind your child of this.

Charlie and his family have been finding the light within the darkness of Covid-19:

“Make the best of the situation. My partner has been creating weekly videos about everything we’ve done that week the kids and it will be a good record of this strange time. We might even look back on it with fondness!”

Positive practical activities will reassure your child and reduce anxiety, as well as providing time to talk without having to call for an ever-ominous ‘big chat’.

It’s likely that schools will soon be re-opened as lockdown restrictions begin to modify after the 7th May. Make sure your child knows, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

5) Put your compassionate hat on

Make sure your compassionate to yourself as a parent as well as to your child. Charlie encourages other parents working from home whilst looking after little ones to be kind to themselves:

“As a parent don’t judge yourself too harshly about what you can realistically achieve whilst everyone is at home. These are not normal times.”

Reassure your child it’s unlikely they’ll get seriously ill and if they did, you would be there to look after them. Explain the NHS and government are doing a remarkable job of keeping everyone as safe as they can.

Let your child know the additional support you have around you as an adult. Don’t forgot to look after yourself too. If you’re feeling worried or anxious about coronavirus, talk to someone you trust.

YUDU’s Director of Crisis Management, Jim Preen recently recorded a webinar with psychotherapist, Dr Liz Royle from KRTS. Access the webinar here: https://vimeo.com/405360962.

Other useful resources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-asia-52189013/jacinda-ardern-tooth-fairy-and-easter-bunny-are-essential-workers

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/19/jacinda-ardern-holds-special-coronavirus-press-conference-for-children

https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/

20 facts you never knew about the Violin – Freelance article for Ted’s list

The Violin is the upper-voice in the String family in an orchestra. The Violin is known historically to celebrate the human voice, due to its human shape and human-like voice. It’s fitting that Italy is the country of the Violin’s origin, it being the land of the Opera and the celebration of the human voice.

Members of the Violin family include the Violin itself, the Cello, the Double Bass and the Electric Violin. Different types of Violins have presented themselves throughout history, such as the Horn-Violin, which unsurprisingly, creates sound using a horn rather than a soundbox.

Here are twenty interesting facts about this compelling instrument.

1. The first Violin was invented in the 16th Century

Most historians believe the first ever Violin was created in the early 16th Century in Northern Italy. This area is thought to have maintained the violin-making tradition for many centuries. Then and since, maple and spruce are the two types of wood favoured by Violin-makers. Both woods are readily available in the Lombardy region.

2) The world’s most expensive Violin

The Vieuxtemps Guarneri is thought to be the most expensive Violin in the world. The Guarneri del Gesù instrument sold for a cool $16 million dollars, that’s (£10.5 million)! The instrument’s new owner anonymously donated the historic instrument on loan to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, on loan for the rest of her life. What a generous offer!

3) Violins are very complex. Violins are made up of…

A modern Violin is made up of approximately 70 different types of wood. Now, let’s talk about the Violin’s anatomy. There are six main parts to the violin. These are the tuning pegs, the fingerboard, the F-hole, the bridge, the chin rest and the fine tuners.

4) What are the different types of Violin?

Today:

• The Violin
• The Electric Violin, as suggested by its name, uses electricity to generate sound. No F-board is required. The Electric Violin will produce a more acoustic sound when plugged into an amplifier.
• The Semi-Electric Violin is also known as the Electric-Acoustic Violin and its internal acoustics mean that it still produces an acoustic sound even when it’s not plugged into an amplifier. For this reason, it is also known as the Electric Pick-Up Violin.
• The Violin family consists of the Violin, the Viola, the Double bass, the Cello and the Violone, which is even larger than the Cello.

Historically:

• Pre-Baroque stringed instruments existed, like the Baroque violin, which was the forefather of the Violin.
• The Classical Violin was invented in the late 18th, early 19th Century. The classical Violin has a slimmer neck and a higher string tension than the standard Violin.
• The Stroh Violin, which is often referred to as the Horn-Violin was developed by John Stroh in the late 19th Century. This Violin uses a horn rather than a sound box to project sound.

5) How many strings?

The Violin has four strings. These are, from high to low; E, A, D and G.

6) The Violin is a String Instrument

The string family is the largest in a modern-day orchestra. The string family is made up of the Violin, the Viola, the Cello and the Double Bass.

7) The world’s smallest Violin

The world’s smallest Violin measures in at just 3” (76.2mm). Baltaza Monaca is the owner of this tiny treasure and you can hear him play Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in A Minor here: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/biggest-and-smallest-violin/

8) The world’s largest Violin

The world’s largest Violin is the brainchild of Markneukirchen Master Luthier, Ekkard Seidl. This epic instrument measures in at 5 metres tall and weighs 397lbs (180kg). It took Ekkard Seidl 2000 hours to construct. You can marvel at the mammoth-sized Violin here: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/biggest-and-smallest-violin/

9) The origins of the Electric Violin

The Electric Violin was born in the 1920s, in the era of Blues and Jazz. Jazz and Blues musician, Stuff Smith began to play around with modifying Violins. In the 1930s and 1940s manufacturers like The Vega Company and The Electro Stringed Instrument Corporation began to produce Electric Violins. The first solid model was released in 1939 by Vega.

10) The Electric Violin’s impact on Rock music

Originally, the Violin was only considered to work in creating Classical, Blues and Jazz music. However, in the 1960s rock artists began to experiment with Electric Violins and found them to suit and amplify their style. The WHO are known for some of the best Electric Violin solos ever recorded, the unique sound of U2’s “Sunday, bloody Sunday” was created with an Electric Violin (played by Steve Whickham) and Bob Dylan used an Electric Violin to record his protest song, “Hurricane”, to name just a few examples.

11) Manufacturers continue to perfect the Electric Violin

Electric Violins didn’t reach their maturity in the 1970s and many manufacturers continue to research and modify models. The Electric Violin is less established than the Violin or Cello and is often seen as an experimental instrument. Luthier Yuri Landman created an Electric Violin with 12 strings, which are clustered in groups of four with three strings in each cluster.

12) How does the Violin produce sound?

How is the brilliant tone characteristic of the Violin created? Vibrations from the strings are transmitted to both the top and bottom plate through the bridge. This reverberates within the Violin’s hollow body, to provide its rich sound.
A bowed string vibrates, moving in a circular motion to produce the tone and the vibrations produces overtones like a rippling wave. The complex movement of the string becomes transmitted to the body by the bridge. The bridge then transmits this vibration to the Violin’s top plate through two movements. One in which it pushes down on the top plate alternately one foot at a time and the other in which both feet push down on the top plate at the same time.
The sound post is also very important. This is a post sandwiched between the top and bottom plate underneath the bridge. It transmits vibrations from top to bottom plate and also serves to preserve the shape of the Violin’s body. The piece sitting under the bridge in the Violin, on the right-hand side is the sound post.

13) Violin on the brain

Here’s some food for thought. Research studies show Violinists have faster cognitive processing speeds than the average person. Additionally, Harvard University concluded that early Violin training improves the memory. Researchers studying the brain’s plasticity regularly use the Violin to investigate how much the brain can adapt. What more reason do you need to learn?

14) How many calories per hour does playing the Violin burn?

Playing the Violin burns roughly 170 calories per hour. Ditch your work-out and get practicing!

15) Where does the name come from?

The word ‘Violin’ comes from the Medieval Latin word, ‘vitula’, which means ‘stringed instrument’ and also ‘female cow’!

16) How many hairs are in a Violin bow?

Violin bows are usually made up of 150 to 200 individual hairs. Bows can be made up of a variety of materials, such as nylon and horse-hair.

17) Alternative materials Violins have been made up of

Way back in the day, Violin strings were made from sheep gut, commonly known as Catgut. The gut was stretched, dried and twisted… how pleasant! Other materials Violins have been made up of, other than wood, include; standard and solid steel, synthetic materials, other metals and are even sometimes plated with silver… fancy! Violin strings were originally made from dried animal intestines.

18) The Violin in the orchestra

Before the roll of Conductors, the Violin was seen to be the leader of the orchestra.

19) What’s the world record of cycling backwards playing the Violin? (In case you were wondering!)

The world record of cycling backwards whilst playing the Violin (crazy, we know), stands at 60.45 km, achieved in 5 hours and 8 seconds.

20) Violins across the world

Indian Violinists sit cross-legged when playing the Violin, resting the scroll of the Violin at their feet and the bottom of the Violin underneath their chin – pretty nifty!

URLs used to research:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/magazine/2019/01-02/invention-of-musical-string-instrument-violin/#:~:text=Most%20historians%20agree%20that%20today’s,available%20in%20the%20Lombardy%20region.

https://www.allianzmusicalinsurance.co.uk/latest-news/blogs/expensive-instruments.html#:~:text=1)%20The%20Vieuxtemps%20Guarneri%20Violin,the%20rest%20of%20her%20life.

https://www.ducksters.com/musicforkids/violin_parts.php

The Anatomy of A Violin

http://www.get-tuned.com/types-of-violins.php

Different Types of Violins

https://www.orsymphony.org/learning-community/instruments/strings/

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/latest/biggest-and-smallest-violin/

https://sound-unsound.com/3-cool-facts-about-the-history-of-the-electric-violin/

10 Interesting Facts About the Violin

https://takelessons.com/blog/interesting-violin-facts-z08

https://cnx.org/contents/56668187-c592-414d-8530-d046cf37ffbe#:~:text=The%20violin%20is%20the%20upper%20voice%20in%20the%20stringed%20instrument%20family.&text=Open%20Strings%20These%20are%20the,celebration%20of%20the%20human%20voice.

https://www.yamaha.com/en/musical_instrument_guide/violin/mechanism/mechanism004.html#:~:text=The%20vibration%20of%20the%20strings%20produces%20a%20spectacular%20sound&text=A%20bowed%20string%20vibrates%20and,the%20body%20by%20the%20bridge

https://www.johnsonstring.com/resources/rock-songs-violins/

https://www.yamaha.com/en/musical_instrument_guide/violin/mechanism/mechanism004.html#:~:text=The%20vibration%20of%20the%20strings%20produces%20a%20spectacular%20sound&text=A%20bowed%20string%20vibrates%20and,the%20body%20by%20the%20bridge

Sentinel Check-in: You don’t need wifi or an app for the taps

By Emily Byrne and James O’Brien

Header Image by Gemma Smith

With reference to: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/pubs-opening-rules-contact-tracing by Matt Burgess

Super Saturday saw the easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of pubs across the UK. With thousands of thirsty punters who’d been locked up for months unleashed, did wifi and app-based Track and Trace solutions see things running as smoothly as they should have?

Guest wifi and apps are well known treasure troves for cyber criminals to access your data. With pub chain owners using wifi connections and apps to Track and Trace their customers – How can visitors be sure that what they’re connecting to is secure?

Rowenna Fielding head of individual rights and ethics at data protection consultancy Protecture, advises:

‘If you’re unsure of how information is being handled, ask the pub. “Ask questions about how is it going to be stored? What are you going to do with it? How are you going to delete it? If those questions aren’t or can’t be answered, then maybe you’re better off having a drink somewhere else.’

Weary about wifi: The questions on our lips

Pub chains using wifi to Track and Trace their punters claim that logging on to a network is the easy option. Really? Register with an email address, forgetting your password, resetting your password. There is a queue behind you. Accessing your registration email, showing the email to the bar staff, all before a pint is pulled. Easy?

There are also issues around the email addressed used to register – you can technically register with any email address – if the track and trace team might want to contact the customer – how can the pub be sure that the email address is being monitored? It could be days or weeks before the customer acknowledges the email.

Going down the wifi route also opens up your customers to cyber criminals – whose sophisticated techniques can take over devices in an instant. The anti-social engineer explains how this is done here: https://theantisocialengineer.com/2020/03/20/how-low-will-they-go/

https://www.yudu.com/resources/webinar/cyber-security-with-antisocial-engineer

Does an app really have your back?

Older people and technophobes will be alienated by the fact they have to download an app, enter their log in details and host the app on their phone to enter many pubs. Many might not have a Smartphone, (20% of the population in the UK don’t), or know how to install an app. We’re not all tech-whizzes and that’s OK.

Say you want to visit a few pubs post-lockdown (we don’t blame you!), are you going to download a different app for every pub you enter? That’s asking a lot from the customer, who just wants to order a pint, or a cocktail – it’s been 12 weeks.

Data Disaster – Why pen and paper won’t work

In other countries whose bars and restaurants have used manual data-sheet registration to Track and Trace their customers, there have been incidents of female customers receiving unsolicited and undesirable messages from bar-staff. This approach means that customers are likely to provide fictional data.

All it takes is a member of staff (or the public, if the sheets are on display) to take a note of or a picture of your personal data and they’ve got you. Your name, address, email, phone number.

As a young female this really doesn’t sit right with me and I certainly wouldn’t give accurate ID as a result. So how is this an effective way of collecting important information?

Vinod Bange, head of data practice at global law firm Taylor Wessing advises: ‘There will be risks for pubs and other businesses whether they adopt a low-tech paper approach […] or use an app to collect data.’

Just because something’s familiar, doesn’t mean it’s the data-secure option.

Sentinel Check-in: Your simple solution

With Sentinel Check-in, there’s no friction for the customer – simply scan the QR code on your chosen pub’s poster at entrance or ring their number. A SMS will automatically come through to you and to the pub, confirming the date and time of your entry. Tap straight to the taps in less than 20 seconds. It’s swift, safe and secure, so you can enjoy your pint in peace.

Our system in agnostic and inclusive, encouraging use for anyone that wants to walk into a pub.

See for yourself and Try a demo: https://www.yudu.com/sentinel-check-in/demo

Register your pub and be setup in under 24 hours: https://www.yudu.com/sentinel-check-in/register

Five tips to stay sane while working from home

By Emily Byrne

Header Image by Gemma Smith

WFH, what’s not to like? No more business dress. Bye-bye long commutes and stupidly early rises for many (well, me actually). Hair tongs dumped. Makeup discarded. It’s a messy bun and PJs all day long. (Note to self: don’t forget video conference calls so disable webcam or make self presentable from neck up.)

But of course, the truth is there’s quite bit not to like about WFH. My work colleagues may drive me nuts half the time… but I have a suspicion I’m going to miss some of them. We’re all feeling it. The only commute we now face is wandering, bleary-eyed from our beds, to our desks, to the fridge… to the kettle… and back to the fridge again.

Inevitably, we’re all going to have to get used to our over-familiar surroundings and compromising faux pas on Zoom video calls for the next few weeks at least. So, here are 5 tips and tricks for staying sane while pretending your bedroom is an office.

1) Shape up your stationary

To do lists, highlights, post-its and coloured pens are a great way to liven up your workspace, help you to prioritise, stay on task, remember everything and basically ensure that you’re always winning. You could also allow your dog to sit under your desk, unfortunately this will mean you get no work done, but it will cheer you up.

2) Keep up Comms

The digital age we live in allows for many of us to continue to work in these turbulent times. Slack, Teams, Zoom and WhatsApp open up endless opportunities for conference calling – which can be fun and informal.

Not just a great way to stay in contact with your team and your managers, but an epic way to shed light on the working day and eliminate loneliness in this uncertain and scary period. Just make sure your partner is fully dressed before turning on your webcam.

3) Feng-Shui your desk space

It’s all about the desk set up. Call me a dotty hippy, but my desk is right by the window and decorated by some of my favourite crystals, ornaments and plants. This gives my workspace a sense of personality and security – especially when comfort is of the upmost. Ensuring you feel happy and have everything you need will increase your productivity and enjoyment of daily tasks. A constant stream of sunlight and fresh air will do wonders to improve your mood – so soak up that serotonin as much as you can whilst the sun shines for us. Alternatively order in Chinese food, which can have exactly the same effect.

4) Lift your spirits with those you love… (before you start tearing each other’s hair out)

Make the most of those you’re isolating with in your household… even if you’re beginning to drive each other up the wall. One of my colleagues advised: “We have initiated random dance parties during our tea-making breaks to lift the spirits. We chose a song that’s great to sing along to. This morning was ‘The Power of Love’ by Huey Lewis and the News. I can’t tell you what a difference it makes!” Or as suggested by my colleague, Jim Preen – how about putting on ‘Stayin’ Alive.’

5) Treat lunch breaks are essential ‘you time’

Be sure to break the day up with something you enjoy doing, whether it be yoga, practicing mindfulness, a crossword, or reading. Stay away from the news and take some time for yourself by doing something that will entirely distract your mind from work. This way you’ll feel instantly more relaxed, refreshed and self-fulfilled. Make sure you’re exercising your body as well as your mind – another mood booster and completely compliant with the government’s lock down rules. I’ve been benefitting from the extra endorphins myself, whilst making sure I’m not a ten tonne Tess when I re-emerge from isolation.

I’m a real believer that for every cloud there’s a silver lining. In the words of Albus Dumbledore:

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times. If one only remembers to turn on the light.”

There is no denying the Coronavirus outbreak is devastating, petrifying and anxiety-inducing all at once. However, some extra hours in the day habituating in our own space will allow us to reconnect with our work, whatever it is we do and also appreciate the love we share with our households. Maybe the free time we have will force us to appreciate the simple things in life which we once took for granted, as we continue to work and live amidst the madness by going back to our roots.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=back+to+my+roots

Enjoy!

Flood resilience: Is Britain out of its depth?

By Emily Byrne

Storms Ciara and Dennis and their turbulent affects is nature’s reminder of the impending threat posed by climate change, highlighting our national need to accommodate for flood resilience in our buildings’ architecture and design and through emergency planning as we as we face a new climate reality. With the River Severn bursting, the arrival of storm Jorge and this February recording as one of the wettest month’s in decades, the tides aren’t set to change anytime soon.

Are the problems climate change presents too ‘big and scary’ for organisations to attempt to face them? Do we distrust the experts providing information around us? If we fail to take the flooding threat caused by climate change seriously, we could be putting ourselves majorly at risk.

News flash: Flash floods await us?

Let’s start with our city. As discovered by the Urban Design Group’s Thames Estuary Project, we are facing a potential rise of the Thame’s water levels by 5%. Currently, the Thames Barrier is in no way built to withstand such a significant increase in water volume – if nothing is done in the next few decades, it will inevitably flood, causing devastation to the city, it’s buildings and occupants.

“With water causing an average of £1.4 billion of damage each year to UK businesses and households, it’s evident that prevention measures are simply inadequate. 21st century architecture must be approached from a position of enabling us to ‘live with water’”. This statement from Architect’s Journal is both poignant and thought-provoking – forcing us to reimagine London surrounded and submerged by water. Striking images of frantically jumping on a boat instead of the tube to get to a meeting spring to mind.

Potential flooding will be worsened by hard landscaping, meaning there is nowhere for the anticipated influx of water to escape from. Architects and developers look to cut costs and corners by building with the next decade in mind, when they should be building in light of the next thirty years. What if important documentation or files, surgical equipment or essential IT and computing software was stored on one of the first few floors of one of these corporation’s buildings? Quite simply, huge sectors of business would be wiped out.

London.gov’s report emphasises the worst-case scenario. “Maybe by 2050 nobody will be able to come into London. In terms of flood risk, the most risk to most people is surface water. People don’t see that until it’s coming through their kitchen door. There seems to be a perception London is safe from fluvial flood risk. The Thames Barrier doesn’t really help. Flooding could come as a big surprise.”

Local Authorities Leave Locals Behind

Recent flooding in Doncaster and Nottinghamshire caused by Storms Ciara and Dennis emphasises the lack of aggressive flood-resilient plans and attention provided by local authorities, councils and wider governmental agencies like the Environment Agency itself. Shockingly, in Doncaster, Fishlake, 229 properties were affected whilst 1,500 businesses and properties across Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire & Warwickshire have been devastated since 7 November 2019.

North Wheatley Primary school in Battleslaw was once again, devastated by flood damage, even after the school hall was raised by steps after outbreaks in 2007 and 2008. One student made a powerful projection on how both local and national governments should be putting more plans in place to deal with the impacts of floods on small towns and villages, in particular.

“I know Brexit is quite important,” she said, “but I really think the government needs to do more about climate change.”

Major flooding has undeniably caused social disparity and unrest in both Nottinghamshire and Doncaster in recent years, as highlighted by interviews with residents conducted by The Guardian and The Observer this month.

“You don’t have to be a hydrologist to see what’s happened,”, states local resident, Paul Smith. Sheffield built flood defences in 2015-16. They spent about £20m protecting the lower Don. So the water has nowhere to go than the next place, Rotherham and then Doncaster.”

On the morning of Friday 14th February, – the banks of the River Don broke, resulting in flood water devastating Doncaster.

“They brought the sandbags maybe four or five hours after the street had been flooded,” a disgruntled Paul Smith added. Clearly, local governments are not responding to flood outbreaks aggressively or urgently enough.

Simon Greaves also believes small towns such as Worksop are deemed less important to protect than bigger, wealthier conurbations, such as Sheffield. “In terms of flood defence funding, we don’t have the gross value added of Sheffield, we don’t have the million-pound properties or businesses. It doesn’t make sense if you are in a flood-damaged property in Worksop, where you were flooded in 2007 and again now and you are thinking: this is a house that I am never going to be able to sell.”

People based in towns and villages on flood plains live in constant fear of becoming trapped in a home they cannot sell. Their entire livelihood: job and home are at risk. It becomes clear that many people in flooded areas are hit twice: first by the flood and then by insurance companies unwilling to insure them. Insurance companies put their premiums prohibitively high to discourage people from seeking cover.

No one seems to have insurance in Bentley. “One resident says that £1,200 a year was the lowest quote he got for insurance after the 2007 flood. That’s over £14,000. That’s more than he lost in this one.” Perhaps, the above highlights why residents of areas which are regularly hit by flood are 5% more likely to develop depression.

Notably, the floods that hit England last week have made life a lot more difficult for many people who didn’t have it easy in the first place. Why is it that we ignore the natural effects of climate change to such an extent?

A possible solution may lie within the Environmental Agency’s Flood Warning System and cell-broadcasting trials, run in alliance with Fujitsu, EE and the University of Hull. The system has thus far issued around 2 million messages, however was arguably of no use to the residents of Worksop and Fishlake, whose communities were devastated yet again.

Staying afloat: Crisis Management and Open Data Solutions

Surely in the 21st century we should make the most of our wide range of digital technologies in order to combat the effects of future flooding and build in accordance with our discoveries? Analysing data and information about urban and natural systems are vital inputs to the urban design process if we are aiming to create resilient cities and towns.

Flooding threats call for businesses to establish crisis management and emergency plans, coupled with a need for business resilience and continuity plans. Focus needs to be on engaging with businesses, strong leadership, consistency across boroughs and longer-term planning. Architect’s Journal highlight “Floods in the UK have caused over £5 billion in damage since the previous record floods of 2015, yet the ways we deal with them are still the same.”

There is a desperate need to shift from a mentality of disaster recovery to disaster prevention. There seems to be a lack of appetite to effect change, when new construction, existing buildings and infrastructure are concerned.

This premise is highlighted by Richard Coutts and Matt Sharman-Hayles. “Back in September, we attended ‘The Architecture of Emergency’ conference at the Barbican, a meeting of London-based architects to discuss the climate emergency. But even though the event was advertised with an image of London underwater, flooding and increased flood risk from climate change was not mentioned once.” A national theatre’s event, which even advertised flood resilience, failed to mention tackling the root cause of the problem once.

It’s essential to determine what ‘ATPs’, or ‘adaption tipping points’ need to be applied to our city’s buildings and architecture. Working with ATPs raises the vulnerabilities of our buildings and architecture centre stage in developing an adaptation strategy.

There is notably no policy in place to minimise the effects of potential flood for existing built up areas. Corporations tends to individually adapt their assets in response to flood disaster, rather than as a planned damage precaution.

In solution, “Real-time data of current usage patterns, weather conditions, current events and commodity prices” should be analysed in order to build in account of climate change. Furthermore, GPS surveying, satellite imagery, sensors and mobile phones all provide new opportunities to present detailed geographic and demographic profiles of spaces. However, it’s worth considering that “while open data and transparency may be the norm for some, restrictions, censorship and concerns about privacy are the reality for others.”

In at the deep end?

We think of floods in a different way to how we think of fires. The latter may be created through malice or negligence. But a flood we see as more like an act of God. Are we reluctant to protect ourselves against that which we can’t control the arrival of?

Many are building for the next decade only, forgetting that by 2050, the effects of climate change will be prominent in our city and society. Corporations, local authorities, environmental agencies, governments and developers should consider the analysis of open data and ensure effective Crisis Management plans are in place, in the least – or else they might just get an unwelcome surprise.

In relation to London’s architecture and its lack of flood resilience – many questions are left unanswered, concerning how buildings would be affected if the Thames water level rises by an anticipated 5%. We need to target developers, architects, buildings and large corporations and aim to change their nonchalant attitudes.

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