The pandemic has been a challenging time for so many different reasons; its impact spanning a range of issues in both people’s personal and professional lives.
Seeing the devastating effects the past year has brought, both to people’s livelihoods and their health, a rush of entrepreneurs have made it their mission to help those most in need during such turbulent times – adapting their startups’ offerings to support those hardest hit by this once-in-a-century global event.
From helping businesses move online to rehabilitating those with addiction worsened by the isolation of social distancing, here, in celebration of World Health Day, TechRound explores the startups helping us get through COVID-19…
- Double Up Social
- Maiden Voyage
- plantkind UK
- Spark and Co.
- Sano Genetics
- Fixing Dad
- Help Me Stop
- TL Tech
- Student Stretch
For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.
Bequest’s sole purpose is to simplify life insurance for the millennial market. Removing medical appoints, paperwork, and policy confusion. Their simple to use platform can help millennials secure life insurance of up to £500,000, within minutes, for less than a Netflix subscription per month.
Interest in Bequest’s products grew over 4050% this past year due to the pandemic. Bequest are passionate about wanting everyone to have access to a will and life insurance that doesn’t break the bank. Their wills platform, unlike many others, use qualified will writers to check and approve each will that comes through. For example you can start writing your will, while you’re in the queue for your vaccine, it’s that easy.
Importantly, the decision was made to introduce a freemium version. There are times where businesses have to put their people first, and this is exactly one of those moments. Within the first few weeks of going live, Bequest were close to nearly 500 written wills, and plan to continue the free will product for the foreseeable future.
Bequest know that some of the vulnerable populations have barriers of entry with products like will writing, and complex financial products, such as life insurance. Which is why they wanted to ensure their platform was clear and simple to understand, done completely in their own environment, so people have the confidence to do it themselves. The uptake has been phenomenal.
The pandemic has been tough for everyone, and if Bequest can offer additional support during this difficult time, by making sure people get cover suited specifically for them and are protected, then the startup will have tackled their mission head on. Bequest claim that “Life is short, and our understanding of morality has completely changed since the pandemic. It’s only right we continue to support everyone we can, but in a new-normal approach.”
Double Up Social
Mark Smith, 23, a young entrepreneur from Bromley has been putting his own business, Double Up Social, on hold to offer over 50 hours of free help to hospitality businesses at risk of closure during Covid lockdowns. 40% of restaurants, 25% of hotels and one in seven pubs at risk of permanent closure.
“After the government forced restaurants, factories, kitchens etc to close, many had to rely on deliveries rather than instore footfall. I knew social media and digital platforms would be the only way these brands could communicate with their customers”
Seeing an opportunity to use his skills for good, Mark reached out to businesses that had previously relied heavily on income from foodservice and restaurants, and offered them remote help to get their businesses online. Before long, the popularity of Mark’s free Facebook advertising workshops, 1-on-1 digital consultancies and photography sessions had spiralled from a few a week to several per day.
“I was inspired by the #HospitalityProud movement which gained momentum during the first lockdown, and being a SME ourselves, knew we had a duty to help other small businesses. We all have to stick together!”
“Mark’s advice was so valuable in looking at simple and free ways to help target customers through Facebook and other social media.” – Rana Roushdi Righton, The Gluten Free Bakery
“I needed Facebook Ads demystifying, and that’s exactly what Mark did. Super helpful, walked me through it, you get to know how it all works, and you can put some money in to ads knowing it’s being well spent.” – Edmund Wood, Belgrove Rum
Growing up with restaurateurs for parents, Mark has always been deeply rooted in the world of hospitality. In 2018, he founded Double Up Social to help restaurants with social media, content creation and digital marketing. They have worked with a multitude of big brands such as Creams Cafe, Wrap it Up! and Chicken Cottage, as well as helping independent restaurants, takeaways and retailers across the UK and abroad.
Reworked take hard-to-recycle waste or recycled materials and re-introduce them back into the supply chain. The startup manufacture bespoke products that are 100% recycled & circular, claiming that “Non-recyclable is not in our vocabulary.”
Utilising their vast knowledge, Reworked can bring new products to market derived entirely from waste materials, closing the waste production loop. Their passion lies in preventing waste plastic from entering the natural environment by providing an alternate route.
A rise in single-use PPE litter due to the pandemic has been a significant area of concern, with serious environmental effects of discarded masks becoming an unforeseen side-effect of Covid-19. Reworked began testing on the materials immediately and were able to use innovation to find a viable recycling route for PPE.
The #ReclaimTheMask campaign was launched, bringing awareness to the PPE waste issues and to engage with businesses in providing them with a PPE recycling service. The campaign brings new hope for the mountains of waste PPE reportedly found washing up on our beaches, polluting waterways and scattered along streets.
Since its launch, Reworked have onboarded hundreds of companies, including most recently, Wilko, in 150 of their UK stores, offering the service to the general public.
The tonnes of collected waste PPE heads to Reworked HQ. After a 72-hour minimum quarantine, the material is pre-shredded, washed/sterilised & shredded into 5mm pieces. The shredded plastic is mixed with a blend of other recycled plastic collected through; take-back schemes, beach/verge litter picks and manufacturing waste.
The shredded plastic mixture is heated to 200C+ and pressed into durable boards. Each facemask weighs 3.5g avg., each board weighs 30kg avg., Reworked liking to get 50% mask waste into them. So each PPE based board has between 7000-8000 masks compressed into them.
These 100% recycled plastic boards become building materials, furniture and even bins to collect more waste PPE.
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Whilst many business travellers are itching to get back on the road, there are understandably concerns around COVID-19 and staying well.
This is has created a shadow pandemic of fear and anxiety, which has made even the most experienced road-warriors reticent to jump too quickly on a plane. With this in mind, Travel Safety experts Maiden Voyage released their SaaS based COVID-19 Traveller Safety eLearning. A jam-packed 11-minutes of travel safety advice, covering everything from local quarantine restrictions, hotel cleanliness to insurance and medication.
The eLearning comes with a useful COVID-19 Managers Assistance Handbook which is redistributed monthly with the latest up-to-date COVID-19 Travel Safety Advice. Companies, including the insurance industry have been quick to adopt the training as a consistent and engaging tool to keep business travellers informed of what to expect when travelling, and how to keep themselves safe and healthy, whilst also addressing the mental health impact of travelling during a pandemic. Licences start from as little as £19.99.
Prior to the pandemic, Maiden Voyage was best known for its expertise in business travel safety for diverse groups of travellers, specialising in helping corporations to safeguard their female, LGBTQ+ and their disabled employees as well as those from different ethnicities.
Maiden Voyage started life as a social network to connect women business travellers, and has a vibrant community of business travellers who share tips, advice and woe’s of life on the road with regular region-specific get-togethers.
Maiden Voyage also specialises in vetting hotels for lone traveller safety and in 2021 will release its Lone Traveller Hotel Excellence Programme as the focus for hotels due to the COVID-19 pandemic is on safety and security.
NoshyCircle is more than just great home-cooked food, it’s a community service. Launched during the pandemic of 2021, NoshyCircle has a duel pronged approach that is feeding the local communities that it operates in, and provides those that are at home with an opportunity to become their own boss.
Throughout the lockdown, many families have had to adapt to a new way of working and living. Many parents have had to undertake the arduous task of home-schooling, while working from home themselves and still maintaining the house.
Dinner times have become a chore and have often resulted in takeaways. NoshyCircle set out to change that. Through the NoshyCircle app, busy parents can order nutritious home-cooked meals to be delivered hot and fresh to their doors. What’s more they can book a whole week’s meals in advance, from multiple kitchens all in one order – they’ll simply be cooked and delivered on their day of choice.
In addition, many people discovered their love of home-cooking and delicious traditional and family recipes. NoshyCircle empowers great home-cooks to earn a living from what they love, it enables them to share their recipes with others in their community.
Working with NoshyCircle and local councils, home-cooks are health and safety certified and food hygiene rated before becoming a NoshyCircle cook. Once registered on the platform, they create their own kitchen, recipes and set their own prices. NoshyCircle then handles the rest – from its compostable and biodegrabale packaging through to delivery to the customer!
NoshyCircles customer app and cook’s platforms has helped so many people during lockdown, whether they’ve been given the encouragement to start their own business of home-cooking, or just been there to deliver delicious meals to the door. NoshyCircle has supported the UK communities and will continue to do so post lockdown and beyond!
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of indoor air quality not only at home, but also (and especially) at public buildings.
Industries and sectors that before did not have indoor air quality standards, are starting to take action towards improving their indoor environment. The main concerns are regarding schools, medical and dental offices, corporate offices, and hospitality buildings (including hotels and vacation rentals). These sectors are changing the way they care for their indoor air since customers and staff are demanding actions to be taken for their safety during these unprecedented times.
EnviroKlenz is an American indoor air quality company that is currently expanding to Europe, and is expected to begin manufacturing in Germany in Spring of 2021.
The EnviroKlenz team has helped many businesses and government entities in their reopening efforts by providing portable air filtration units that can be placed inside of enclosed air spaces for. The systems provide much need air exchanges through patented filtration processes and sustainable technology.
Some of these accomplishments are:
- Helped in the reopening of schools with installation in around 40,000 classrooms.
- Supported reopen efforts of over 2000 dental offices and 20 major dental universities.
- EnviroKlenz air systems were deployed on Naval Dental fleets across the globe.
EnviroKlenz state that “As UK businesses start their reopen plans, indoor air quality should be one of the priorities they focus on to have a safe and above standards indoor environment.”
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Navenio has never been more relevant than during the pandemic. The Navenio solution was spun out of award-winning and world-leading research from the University of Oxford, and provides infrastructure-free indoor location solutions (the equivalent of GPS for use indoors) to power a range of apps and platforms in sectors including healthcare.
COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of efficiency and transparency in patient care and our technology uses smartphones to map where people are in hospitals, so that teams can then schedule tasks depending on location and availability. With the app able to prompt staff to wash hands and sanitise, as well as direct resources for rapid response cleaning when necessary, it has dramatically improved patient flow within healthcare settings around the UK.
The solution has become particularly valuable during the pandemic because it is highly scalable, accurate and robust in adapting to the needs of healthcare teams on the frontline. Navenio’s Intelligent Workforce Solution is currently being deployed at NHS sites, including the East Kent NHS Foundation Trust, and its location services adopted by private hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic London.
Teams that utilise the Navenio solution have reported that it has helped to double capacity, increase productivity, and improve service levels with faster response time, all of which lead to better patient outcomes and staff experiences.
A report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated online sales reached a record high of 22.3% in March 2020 as consumers moved to online purchasing as a result of COVID-19. By the end of 2020, IMRG reported that online retail sales in the UK rose by 36%.
This unprecedented rise in e-commerce increased demand hugely on delivery drivers who needed to transport everything from clothes, food and DIYmaterials to medical devices. They became the undercover essential workers, the unsung heroes who kept everything going.
Having launched in 2017, Circuit plays an integral role in delivery drivers’ lives. It helps them to plan better routes and ultimately deliver faster – saving drivers on average one hour per day. Circuit saw 10x more delivery drivers sign up in April versus February 2020 and, for this influx of new delivery drivers, the app helped them to be efficient from the get-go.
In addition since its launch, Circuit has developed delivery management software Circuit for Teams, which enables businesses to manage multiple drivers and streamline operations. It’s ideal for small to medium sized enterprises looking to track and optimise the routes of multiple drivers, as well as those looking to improve operations – in other words those, who when Covid hit, needed a solution.
75% of sign-ups in April 2020 were restaurants and retail and in order to support these smaller businesses Circuit offered 90% off for charities and 50% off for restaurants to help get them on their feet during a difficult time.
An example of one business that benefited from Circuit is Edinburgh’s Company Bakery who went from being solely a B2B bread wholesaler to managing roughly 4,000 direct-to-consumer deliveries a month — that averages out to 142 stops per day. Through Circuit, Ben and the team at Company Bakery organise their drivers into areas and optimise their routes. The home delivery service has been so successful that they will continue it after Covid.
The applications are available on Android and iOS or visit www.getcircuit.com
Just as the global pandemic was unfolding around the world, Jake Crute, the founder of Plantkind UK, persevered to make his vision of plants a reality. Sustainably sourced plants and pots, without all the pretentious faff, his own bugbears built up from decades of buying plants. With their city centre greenhouse, they have been on hand to satisfy everyone’s houseplant cravings.
Plantkind UK has helped bring joy into the homes of thousands throughout the lockdowns with their fabulous collection, including; a baby plants subscription – helping parents bond with their children over affordable nurture, houseplants and lovely pots to match, plus they have made their own range of houseplant care products, consisting of compost through to plant food and leaf clearers. The latter, helping to improve the photosynthesis efficiency and air purification of plants in your homes!
The founder is open and honest about his mental health battles, hence why there is ‘kind’ in the name. Plants, gardening and generally spending time in nature is proven to help us with our mental health, namely anxiety and depression. Slow down, spend time with your plants, nurture as they do it back, a relatively simple way to find a mindful state even in a busy home.
Best of all, they clean the air we breathe, you’ve just got to keep those leaves clean of dust, grime and pollution to work their best!
Jake, and Plantkind UK, don’t think that houseplants are a trend, more interestingly, they see complacency across the horticulture industry and are faced with ‘it’s just done that way’ without trying to innovate or become more sustainable. So, every order helps their sustainable ideas become a reality, so we can all continue to indulge in our houseplant addictions, albeit, a little more guilt-free.
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Spark and Co.
Spark and Co. is a community led platform that supports people in the UK hardest hit by Covid-19 to navigate the ongoing crisis.
The organisation was founded during the first national lockdown in March 2020 as a response to the pandemic. The pilot platform gained significant traction; in June 2020 Spark and Co. raised £120,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund’s emergency Covid-19 funding to develop and deliver its services.
Spark and Co. state their goal is to create social impact by equipping people and communities with knowledge, information & resources. Spark and Co. supports its users through an online resource directory, educational content and workshops on health and wellbeing. The mission is to provide users with trusted and relevant information and services to enable them to navigate the pandemic, and equip them with the skills to thrive long after.
Impact to date…
In less that one year since it’s launch, Spark and Co. has rapidly responded to the crisis to:
Create over 500 pieces of educational content about navigating the pandemic.
Listed over 800+ vetted resources which 50k unique users have accessed via Spark and Co.’s Resource Directory.
Delivered workshops and peer support sessions attended by 250+ people.
Delivered the Tackling Digital Exclusion programme which provides equipment, internet access and skills to bridge the digital divide to 200+ people.
What’s on the horizon?
Recent user research showed…
70% of ethnic minority groups feel that mental wellbeing is a pressing challenge.
85% continue to be worried about job and financial security.
Spark and Co. has recently launched an online learning platform which will support users with these issues going forward, ensuring that vulnerable people are equipped with the information and skills they need to thrive after the pandemic.
The platform will be focused on providing workshops, guides and expert content specifically on health, wellbeing and financial security in response to user needs.
Sano Genetics, co-founded in 2017 by three Cambridge University post-graduate students of genomics, is collaborating with researchers around the world to answer the question: how do our genetics impact Long Covid symptoms and recovery?
Very little is currently known about Long Covid, so the UK-based healthtech company is sequencing the DNA of 3,000 people who have experienced symptoms lasting longer than three weeks.
The study, which is being partly funded by two Innovate UK grants, will test the hypothesis that it is an autoimmune disease, like irritable bowel disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
Sano Genetics’ ability to matchmake relevant participants to research they can take part in from home using DNA testing kits is important in the fight against the pandemic. Its private-by-design platform guides people through the process, giving them total control over how their data is used. They are kept informed with regular updates on the research they have been a part of, and receive personalised content such as genetic reports.
The company is solving some big existing problems in the field of precision medicine research. There is usually little to no benefit for participants beyond altruism, taking part is difficult and time-consuming, and people are concerned about the privacy of their sensitive genetic and medical information. As such, 85% of trials fail as they can’t retain enough participants.
Sano Genetics is planning a Series A in 2021 after raising £2.5M seed funding last year in a round led by Episode1 Ventures, alongside Seedcamp, Cambridge Enterprise, January Ventures, and several UK, Europe, and US-based angel investors.
More details on Sano’s Long Covid research, and live studies of other rare and chronic conditions, can be found here: https://sanogenetics.com
Fixing Dad is an international health-engagement company that helps people to engage with their health and wellbeing. It is founded by two brothers, Anthony and Ian Whitington, who gave up their jobs in 2014 to help save their father, who was dying from diabetes, by reversing his condition with diet and lifestyle.
Originally funded with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, their story became an acclaimed BBC documentary, Fixing Dad. The follow-up, The Fixing Challenge, which broadcast during the pandemic, saw the brothers help another four people engage with their health and tackle a range of conditions including diabetes, cancer and obesity, culminating in the completion of RideLondon‘s 100 mile race.
Today, Fixing Dad has evolved into an organisation that services a wide range of consumers, employees and patients for free via apps, TV programming, digital content, social media, virtual forums, events, devices and publishing.
What began as one family’s journey is now an organisation that in 2021 will have helped millions of people to tackle, reverse and prevent a wide range of conditions at a time when people and health systems need it most.
With its Fixing Us brand, they have worked with charities and a number of clients and partners including AstraZeneca, Roche, Nestlé Health Science, Ascensia, NHS England, Novartis, London Marathon Events and Prudential.
During the pandemic, Fixing Us has found ways to support those battling health conditions and created virtual patient forums, enabling people to come together safely and remotely for support and to overcome the isolation that lockdowns have created. During a time when people have been unable, or struggled, to engage with their health systems properly, these virtual forums have been a lifeline for patients and caregivers, providing the motivation, encouragement and support with others going through similar journeys.
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Help Me Stop
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought major challenges to UK drug and alcohol healthcare systems. The Royal Society of Psychiatry estimated that the number of people drinking at risky levels in the UK has doubled to 8.5 million since COVID-hit as people struggle with self-isolation, stress, anxiety, and depression.
This is certainly a picture that Help Me Stop can relate to, as calls to their enquiry line and website Live Chat have increased by over 500% since the start of COVID. Time and time again they are taking calls from people that have reached a point of desperation in terms of their mental wellbeing, and who have turned to alcohol and drugs as a form of self-medicating.
Help Me Stop is a breakthrough organisation delivering the successful US IOP model of “Dayhab” to the UK. A 6-week non-residential private pay intensive drug and alcohol treatment programme. Ideally suited to those working but struggling with their drug and/or alcohol use, Help Me Stop is “Rehab In The Real World”.
Help Me Stop has continued to offer its face-to-face services from its centre in West London throughout the pandemic. However as result of self-isolating and the “Stay at Home” message, many individuals struggling with drug and alcohol problems have felt unable to come into face-to-face treatment. With this in mind, Help Me Stop developed its unique intensive online drug and alcohol treatment programme, delivering intensive treatment directly to people in their homes.
As one of our online clients says: “I came to Help Me Stop at possibly the lowest point in my life. Despite my very best intentions, my life was falling apart. Since graduating Help Me Stop, my family life is better than it has ever been, and I couldn’t be more satisfied. I believe it to be a significant first step towards my continued sobriety”.
Run by psychotherapists that have had their own issues with drugs and/or alcohol, Help Me Stop staff really do know what it is like to struggle, but also have a solution. https://helpmestop.org.uk/
Essentialise is a wellbeing and coaching company founded by psychologist and accredited coach Lee Chambers in February 2020.
Having lost a significant number of clients only a month after launch, they evolved to a digital delivery model, including live wellbeing sessions, home working consultations and online coaching for employees flexible to their needs. They also assisted a number of SME’s in implementing a wellbeing strategy that allowed wellbeing improvements to be measured by data while increasing engagement and being accessible to those working remotely and on furlough.
Essentialise has continually evolved to meet employee needs over the pandemic. They launched a male leader resilience and wellbeing programme, which was groundbreaking, bringing leaders into a safe space to explore both personal and business challenges in a vulnerable, solution-focused environment. They provided hours of free frontline employee coaching to two NHS trusts in the North of England and hosted a health show on local radio that gave vital insight and connection to isolated rural communities.
They are also founder members of Wellbeing Lancashire, an organisation focused on bringing health innovation into economic strategy to fight against health inequalities and prioritise wellbeing as a driver for growth and performance.
With a forward-thinking approach, and a methodology that focuses on tackling the future’s wellbeing problems today, Essentialise has gone from a difficult start to working with one of the big four, a top 5 mobile phone company and the worlds premier job search business in just 12 months.
As a founder, Lee Chambers has also been on a mission to empower the next generation’s health and wellbeing. Under Essentialise, he has been coaching leaders, athletes and entrepreneurs on the importance of health as a driver of performance, supporting them to optimise their energy and embed an ethos of wellbeing within their fields.
He has spoken virtually at several events and universities, highlighting his journey of mental health struggles and losing the ability to walk, and how he overcame them and fuelled a passion for enabling others to face adversity and challenges.
Essentialise’s mission is simple: to positively impact a million individuals’ health and happiness through its work. And on World Health Day, we celebrate making the first step on that journey.
Aberdeenshire-based TL Tech is passionate about empowering people to live their best lives using smart technology, but it was the COVID pandemic that encouraged the start-up to think about how it could use its home automation skills to combat loneliness.
Recognising the power of voice assistant technology, the organisation launched a free voice application for Amazon Alexa called Kindspace. Over the last year of lockdown and remote working, people have become increasingly isolated and loneliness has been on the rise. In response, we have turned to technology to support our wellbeing, and Kindspace has been described as a “friend” by users.
Kindspace is also very accessible, it’s free and you don’t need to download it. As it’s a new functionality on Alexa smart speakers, all you have to do is say: “Alexa, open Kindspace.”
“We want to help people experiencing loneliness to create their own kind spaces and direct people to areas of support. Voice assistant technology has a magical and unique way of connecting people,” says TL Tech co-founder, Caroline Laurenson.
The app is designed to track and improve wellbeing by empowering people to manage their self-care. Kindspace tracks wellbeing and mental health using a daily check-in – a quick one-minute assessment – and then offers tips and advice. Users can set reminders to encourage them to form new, good habits – and keep them.
TL Tech’s mission is to create a world where smart meets kind, which supports people regardless of age, technical ability or finances to create unique supportive and entertaining home environments using technology.
Adapting everyday consumer electronics into easily accessible and assistive tech for elderly and vulnerable people to enable them to be more independent is how the organisation has made its name, but for TL Tech, this is just the beginning. The team is keen to develop Kindspace further, making the content more personalised and even partner with wellness experts to offer guided activities on the platform.
For any questions, comments or features, please contact us directly.
Student Stretch launched last May, with the idea to connect students through their love of movement and community. The aim was to give students an online space to express themselves through movement, mindfulness and meditation, providing them with a little bit of daily headspace and a way to switch-off during the pandemic.
10 months later and Student Stretch have connected with thousands of students across the UK, guiding and giving them a place to grow on their own physical and mental health journey.
The platform started with a few weekly online yoga and meditation classes, offering students a chance to take a break from their studies and see a few friendly faces. Many students weren’t exactly having the university experience they had planned, with lots of them cooped up in halls, or studying alone at home, there was a real sense of loneliness and abandonment in the student community.
When the platform started, founder Hannah Paradise discovered that students seemed to connect with what the startup offered and how they offered it, finding a safe place to let off steam. “They felt more supported and found better self-connection, as well as a lifeline to their student body – ‘separated by distance, connected through community’.” Paradise claims.
Many students have reached out during the last 10 months to express thanks and appreciation for the support Student Stretch have been able to give them during particularly stressful periods of study and often times of loneliness. Paradise received many messages citing how it has changed their mental and physical health forever.
Student Stretch now offers a wide variety of movement sessions, both livestream and on-demand, alongside mediation sessions, mindfulness workshops as well as talks and further learning resources on non-physical topics.
Paradise claims that she personally felt lucky to have seen so many students find structure, routine and support amongst the pandemic and academic uncertainties through what Student Stretch offers. Student Stretch hopes to continue providing students with tools to lead a happier and healthier life – mind, body and soul.
Video networking platform Meeow has been boosting confidence amongst solopreneurs and creating opportunities for young people during the pandemic. Utilising the power of random, the platform has been providing a window for fellow solopreneurs and young entrepreneurs from around the world to connect, collaborate and seek much needed support.
Millions of young people and SMEs in the UK face the combined threat of Brexit, the pandemic, and a lack of access to funding. But crucially, they have lost the ability to talk with people to obtain advice, develop their skills and access business opportunities.
Meeow – which stands for Meet Now – has been challenging these boundaries by bringing together a group of four people at random, to connect for an hour and simply chat. Discussions can be anything from the latest business issues to what is happening in their day-to-day lives, or advice on where to turn next.
Solopreneurism can be lonely. But Meeow has been taking that loneliness away. Not only does it beat the lockdown blues, but it creates new opportunities and instils confidence amongst worried individuals.
The video networking platform was the brainchild of Simon Glenn and Chris Rabbitt. Both had businesses that suffered during the lockdown and each noticed a decline in their mood from being isolated. This inspired the idea behind Meeow, and they collaborated to keep solopreneurs and young people talking.
Early-stage users of the service report finding lasting connections, business support and advice. They have found multiple opportunities to collaborate on projects through the power of Meeow. 19-year-old Alexa Wilkinson is one meeowist who has been able to set up her own business due to the confidence Meeow has given her and the connections it has helped her make.
Renny Slade, owner of The Wise Learner life and communication coaching business, is also an early adopter of Meeow and now uses it up to twice a week to connect with others.
The idea for Sanctus was born in 2016 when James Routledge sat down to write a blog post about his mental health challenges whilst running a startup. The post was met with an overwhelming amount of support from James’ peers, colleagues, friends, family and even total strangers – which made him realise there was a real need for better mental health support within workplaces.
Alongside his co-founder George Bettany – who had also struggled with his mental health at work – James set out to create the kind of company he and George wished they had had access to during their difficult times.
Five years on, as a direct result of that post, Sanctus is the UK’s leading provider of mental health coaching in the workplace. It’s on a mission to make mental health more accessible for employees, providing them with a safe space in which they can reflect and work on their mental health proactively, like we do our physical health.
Sanctus has grown to a team of over 60 people, including 40 coaches who meet with organisations and their employees on a regular basis to provide tailored mental health support around the globe.
Working closely with an organisation’s senior management and HR teams, Sanctus creates a proactive mental health strategy for its employees, as well as hosting group talks and workshops, before setting up one-to-one coaching sessions with individual team members.
In 2021 an expanding roster of clients have turned to Sanctus for consultation on employee wellbeing – particularly those businesses that have spent the best part of the year working in isolation due to the pandemic.
To tackle what is being described as a ‘looming national mental health crisis’ and address the risk of burnout for employees, Sanctus is creating a series of tools and resources for businesses to use. It is also championing organisational cultural shifts and encouraging management to cultivate more open spaces from the top down. Whilst it is down to the individual to take care of their mental health, Sanctus is working with leaders to foster a culture where it is safe to do so.
It is the company’s long-term goal to set up mental health gyms on the high street, allowing people to work on their mental health, as they would do their physical health.
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