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What Happened in 2021?

2021 has been a whirlwind of a year for most of us. It feels as though we are constantly adapting, trying to find new ways of doing things and grabbing opportunities whenever we can.

A contact suggested I reflect on what I have achieved over the past 12 months. In taking on this advice, I realise that despite the challenges, this has been a positive year for me. I have accomplished far more than I would have thought possible at the start of the year.

Putting Vulnerable Customer Service on the Agenda

Firstly, I would like to thank all of the organisations that are putting the needs of vulnerable customers on their agenda. I have had the pleasure of working with many companies that are keen to build their understanding of vulnerability and put measures in place to make a difference.

My webinars, podcasts and training have provided me, and every person who joined me, with thought-provoking insight. They have been a great way to discover good practice, gain a deeper understanding through lived experiences and view the issues surrounding vulnerability from a fresh perspective. I thank all of the wonderful guests for their openness and honesty; it has been enlightening.

It has also been an honour to have been invited to be a guest speaker at several conferences and on podcasts and webinars. It is rewarding to see that the fair treatment of vulnerability is a topic of interest across many groups.

Adding Value Through Collaboration

Collaboration is critical to delivering better support and services for vulnerable customers. I am a strong believer in joining forces to influence and implement change.

Joining the Collaboration Network was a pivotal moment for me and I fully endorse their philosophy. This year has seen me increase my involvement with their Focus Groups and discussions and become a Non-executive Director.

One of the pinnacles of this year was being accepted as an RSA Fellow. I am now one of 30,000 change makers who are aiming to resolve the challenges of our time. I am committed to building awareness of vulnerability, supporting strategies and providing resources to improve customer service for all.

Setting my Future Path

Another major undertaking has been rebranding my business. My original brand and website no longer provided an accurate reflection of my values and work, so it was time for a change. The process helped me to clarify my aims, my mission and my ethos. It has directed my path as I look forward to all that 2022 will offer.

To ensure I am keeping pace with good practice, I continuously maintain my research and training. This year I have qualified as a Mental Health First Aider and a Suicide First Aider.

One of my concerns is that, when already vulnerable people are misinformed and mistreated by organisations, their situation can become increasingly challenging. In many cases, suicide appears to be the only way out. Few of us are equipped to support colleagues, friends and family who are having suicidal thoughts and I am on a mission to change this.

This year, I set up WASP – Workplace Awareness of Suicide Prevention. This steering group aims to make it mandatory for every workplace to have a suicide policy. It is early days, but this initiative will pick up pace through 2022 and we will be rallying support for our campaign.

As part of the WASP agenda, I have co-produced a Suicide Prevention policy template. This is free to download from my website.

Encouraging Business Excellence

For several years, I have been a judge at the Complaint Handling Awards with Awards International. This year, I was invited again to participate in the capacity as Chief Judge. I find the event fascinating; it is a shining example of how a focus on customer service excellence can drive business success.

Another long-standing role for me has been volunteering with Young Enterprise. I believe there is great value in providing opportunities for young people that equip them for the world of work. I was surprised and delighted to have received the Young Enterprise Volunteer of the Year Award 2021.

Finding Time for Personal Goals

When I look back at this list of achievements, it is hard to believe that I had any free time, but I did. Having inherited a violin several years ago, I was determined to sign up for lessons. I found a great tutor this year and am enjoying learning a completely new skill.

It might feel like a year full of horrendous news stories, uncertainty and frustration, but I encourage you to take on the advice I was given. We have made it through and have achieved positive things along the way. Recognising these provides a considerable boost and drives the motivation for a productive 2022.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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