I’ll never forget my Mental Health First Aider trainer. Over just two days, I learned so much about how our mental health can impact us, especially in the workspace. Evidence suggests that 12.7 percent of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions (mentalhealth.org).
After the training, I emailed the course instructor, Heidi Portray (wisemindtraining.co.uk) to tell her how invaluable the training was, and how it had triggered some of my own experiences with stress, anxiety and depression. It became more than a tool to help me contact companies about speaking to their employees. After a few email exchanges Heidi offered the following: “Being self-employed can be lonely sometimes!”
Granted, I’d only recently become a freelancer, but I began to really appreciate Heidi’s words as the weeks went on. Even though I’m fortunate to pick my own hours, and don’t have to answer to anyone, and can be completely flexible, it can get lonely. Taking into account the recent rapid rise in self-employment (which now accounts for around 15 percent of the UK working population) I really started to think about how many other freelancers might be feeling lonely*.
After a meeting I had at 1000 Trades (1000trades.org.uk), I saw a small poster promoting a new tech company, Dispace, that was aiming to disrupt the co-working community by creating a free workspace community. This was a breathe of fresh air, as the rise of co-working spaces such as WeWork, even though great, feel flashy, exclusive, and expensive, for a new freelancer like myself. I signed up to Dispace that afternoon.
Within a few weeks of joining the following happened;
A phone conversation with Ross Cox, one of the co-founders
An invitation to a co-working event
An opportunity to write a guest blog
An invitation to speak at a co-working event
An invitation to be part of a podcast
On top of all of this, I’ve met some great freelancers who are part of the Dispace community. This includes bloggers, copywriters, digital marketers, environmentalists, photographers, tech experts, and many more. It’s definitely helped to add an element of surprise and interaction to my working week, as well as discovering spaces I would not have known about.
*Speaking of freelancer life and loneliness, over the next few weeks Charisse Kenion is doing portrait sessions at Medicine Bakery, Birmingham, to raise awareness of loneliness. Visit her Instagram to find out the dates and times for her next shoots, and feel free to turn up, have a chat and get your portrait taken for an exhibition taking place in December. If you’re interested in taking part or making a donation visit her website today.