Our favourite stories of 2020

This time of year is usually when we talk about everything that’s been achieved and what we’re looking forward to. With everything that’s been going on, it just doesn’t feel right to be thinking that way, or to feel like we’re bragging in any way. So, instead, we’re going to be posting the stories of some of the amazing people we met this year, and the lessons that they all taught us.

In spite of the pandemic, people have continued to push for change and to do extraordinary things to make our communities better. If nothing else, now is a time to celebrate those people and show our appreciation. One thing that’s become clearer than ever is that the will to be positive and push through adversity will always be there. Ultimately, this is the lesson we’ll be taking into our time off during the holidays and the year to come.

For now though, enjoy these stories!

This is Laura. We met her while filming with Southampton Hospitals Charity at Princess Anne Hospital. Thousands of women come through the hospital each year to give birth, and their birthing pool room is in need of some major updates. It’s a room where women need to feel safe, calm and protected, but the current room doesn’t meet those needs. Seeing this, Laura and some of her colleagues have taken it upon themselves to raise money through swimming a total of 77 miles in local pools.

This is an amazing feat anyway, but when you consider that they are NHS workers going through a pandemic, it becomes even more special. Seeing their willingness to make a difference, on top of the difference they already make through their work, was incredibly inspiring. In a year where the bad news seems to keep flowing, hearing stories like this are a boost to say the least. Thank you for letting us be a small part of what you’re doing, and for being exactly the kinds of people we need this year, and every year.

This is Mark. This year he ran a triple marathon in 24 hours in memory of his son Robbie and wife Kate, and to raise money for Robbie’s Rehab; a charity helping children with brain tumours. Witnessing someone taking on such a physically and mentally demanding challenge in the middle of an already difficult year was really something. It would have been easy to call the event off and to shy away from the challenge, but that was the last thing on Mark’s mind. He not only completed the event, he exceeded the fundraising target by more than a quarter.

The difficulty for this triple marathon wasn’t only physical, having such painful memories at the centre of this feat must have been excruciating. We can’t begin to imagine the mix of emotions that Mark must have gone though, and yet, throughout the whole filming process Mark was so open, honest and kind. His endurance is something we’ll be thinking about as we go into the uncharted waters of 2021. Telling stories of human strength and determination is always something that inspires us, and we’re very grateful to him for letting us be a part of the journey.

This is Anna from Play for Progress. We met her while filming for Small Charities Coalition’s London Gives Back campaign. Hearing Anna talk about the young displaced people that she works with was amazing. When these people are going through one of the most traumatic periods of their lives, Anna and everyone at Play for Progress are there to help them in every way they can. They provide safety, a space to be creative and somewhere where these young people can get help with their mental wellbeing through therapy.

Through creativity, support and understanding, these amazing people are helping people to secure a safe future, something that every young person deserves. What’s even more inspiring is that despite all of the difficult stories they encounter through their work, they were so welcoming and positive. We could feel the care they felt fo their young people, and with charities like them working so hard, it feels possible that there will be a more positive outcome for displaced young people in the future.

Thank you for your patience, and the dinosaur shaped cakes!

This is Chris and we work with him at adidas golf. While the majority of the work we do is with change makers and educators, we still work with a lot of businesses. Just because a business functions to make a profit, doesn’t mean that they’re not changing the world. That’s one of the joys of working with the businesses that we work with.

The last shoot we worked on with Chris showed us how adidas golf were moving towards becoming the most sustainable brand in golf. From taking materials from landfill to products made out of entirely recycled products, they’re pushing hard to limit their impact. More than that though, they’re working on changing the attitudes of their customers, making them think more sustainably, even wanting more sustainable products. When businesses change the thinking of their end users like that, we’ll start to see real change. It’s encouraging to see a globally successful business considering the impact they have on the planet and striving to be better. Hearing how passionately Chris spoke about the role they can play in positively affecting climate change is exactly why we choose to work with brands like theirs.

Our final shoot of the year was with Faye. Not only is she a joy to interview and work with, but we were talking to her about a particularly special arts project. Hampshire Cultural Trust run a number of projects to help young people, but when Covid hit, many of these had to stop. Not all of them though, some were able to adapt and move to online delivery. One of those projects was Create and Connect, of which Faye was a part.

This project not only provided online art sessions for young people who need them more than ever, but it also provided them with all the resources they needed. Providing quality resources not only allowed these young people to take part, but it showed them that their wellbeing and creativity is valued. It might not seem like much to some, but giving these young people the space to speak with others and express their creativity makes a huge difference.

Hearing the stories or the artists and young people has been amazing, and a reminder that even when things look a little bleak, creativity is still an essential part of life.

This is John, who we met while filming with Ageing Better. John was kind, funny and easy to talk to, but the subject matter that we were discussing was not a pleasant one. John, like the other people that we spoke to on this project, has encountered age discrimination in the recruitment process. To some this may not sound like a lot, but the ways in which it affects people are varied. Undoubtedly though, this kind of discrimination can have a detrimental effect on people’s mental wellbeing. Questions of value, self worth and proficiency come up. When you spend so long working, having this taken away from you for something you can’t control is cruel.

John was so forthcoming about his experiences. He was happy to share, and to explore topics that are not comfortable to talk about. His experiences are distressing, but what stands out for us is his unwillingness to concede. John’s desire to keep working and buck perceptions of older people was a joy to witness. When you meet someone who goes against the grain, and calls the status quo into question it’s always a memorable experience, especially when it’s done with humour and positivity.

Thank you for talking with us, and for making sure that you keep fighting against something so unfair and unjust.

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This is Mike, he’s just one of the lovely people we filmed with at Williams Shipping this year. Over the time we’ve spent working with them we heard stories of people meeting their spouses, gaining qualifications they’d never have gotten otherwise and having the ability to buy their own home. We heard the stories of people who were just beginning their journey, as well as people who have been working there for 30, 40 and even 50 years. What struck us most though was the sense of community. We could feel that the business has got to be where it is today because of the value they place on people and their lives outside of work. People are what make any business, and the human stories contained within a business are what makes them truly unique.

Williams Shipping have been in business for 126 years, which is a long time. They have been through wars, recessions and everything in between, and have still come out on the other side without sacrificing their values. The perseverance, dedication and determination of every person that we met reflect that and will stay with us. They’ve reminded us that even when things are tough, there is always a reason to keep on going.

This one’s for our collaborators. We work with some amazing people who not only bring their own unique skills, but teach us so much as well. We’re so grateful for the positive attitude and hard work that they bring to every project that we work on with them. Matt W. Matt D. Lukas, Nisha, Dan, Rosy, Alexia and Chris you are all awesome.

Thank you to everyone that we’ve worked with this past year. Working with such wonderful people helps to take your mind off the chaos that seems to have enveloped the world. Your positivity and desire to change the world has kept us positive and we can’t wait to work with you more next year. That’s us checking out for this year, we’ll be recharging and getting ready for what we hope will be a successful 2021. Over the holidays we hope you all stay safe, treat yourself and get the rest you deserve.

Emma & Craig 💚

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