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Freelancing in England during COVID-19

Is it possible to run a freelance business from a boat in Bristol during COVID-19? Read our blog to find out.

As one of the five million self-employed people in the UK, my work life, as well as my home life has been impacted by the current health crisis. A number of support measures have been promised by the government, though this leaves many struggling until they materialise.

What I recognise now, more than ever, is how fortunate I am and how much I took for granted.

Keeping motivated, positive and productive

I live in Bristol, a beautiful city in the West of England which is famous for its music scene. Normally, the city is flooded with revellers every night of the week. The streets are now pretty much deserted, but many clubs and artists are playing live sets for free via Facebook or Instagram to keep everyone’s spirits up. People across the UK are embracing new ways of connecting with friends and customers. Yoga sessions are streamed via video conference (yogawithcatriona), as are pub quizzes, academic classes and ‘house parties’.

In terms of my own work, I have been lucky so far. Many of my clients remain afloat and are keen to keep communicating with their customers. I have been heartened to see a number of my LinkedIn contacts offering content marketing services for free to struggling businesses. I have offered the same. There’s also a raft of fun virtual get-togethers popping up, such as the brilliantly-named Digital Guzzle by Noisy Little Monkey, a local marketing agency. Everyone is trying to keep one another motivated, positive and productive. It’s lovely to see.

Giving thanks

I count my lucky stars every day. For my health, the brilliant people around me, for the incredible NHS and keyworkers that are risking so much for us, every day.

I live on a boat in Bristol harbour and every Thursday at 8pm our little community devises new ways of making the most noise possible for the Clap for Our Carers. It started with simple cheering, then we moved on to boat horns, bells and banging pots. We even got a mention in the Guardian!

Daily life is so unrecognisable now. But we have to focus on helping one another and keeping one another safe. Community support initiatives are overrun with volunteers and people are smiling at each other as they pass by at a distance. As a place that is famous for its reserve, this is particularly uplifting.

Allowing for some light-hearted moments

We are also a nation who loves a bit of silliness. Twitter and social media are awash with memes, funny videos and suchlike. My favourite so far is this great series of clips from sports commentator Nick Heath. With his day job on hold, Nick has keeping himself sane by adding his storytelling skills to the mundane events around them such as dogs playing in the park or a couple walking down the street.

Us humans don’t cope well with uncertainty. It’s a truly frightening time and it can be hard to stay focused and remain positive. I try to keep my news consumption to a minimum, smile at people whenever I have the chance, and remind myself of the many, many things I have to be grateful for.

Kirsty Matthewson