As I returned to work from the Christmas/New Year break I found trying to muster the energy up to get back into work and perform at a high level somewhat difficult.  I think and reminisce of mince pies and over-drinking, and basically eating everything in sight had left me feeling depressed and unenthusiastic about anything.

Working for Royal Mail your period of rest and relaxation over Christmas is limited to a very small window as you can imagine, and living with a Mail Centre Manager from the business whom lives and breathes Christmas 24/7 during the period of November to early January the need for rest and relaxation “between the eves” is ever more important and so the over indulging comes within a limited period but includes most weekends in the build up to the Christmas break to ensure you have visited everyone.

The past two years, my partners three sons have spent Christmas day with their girlfriends parents which has given us the added luxury of having no-one here Christmas day, with my parents choosing to stay indoors and Neil’s parents cruising around the Caribbean.  We have literally done “nothing” for the past two years on Christmas Day itself and it has been the dream for us after the manic period for work.

Moving into the New Year I decided I would once again try to address in the form of resolutions some of the things in my life that I feel approaching 50 (well 2-years away) needed to be addressed.  The one thing I do not do for the risk of psychologically failing is tell anyone, so I just stopped smoking.  Nobody really noticed at first except my partner as I had also gone “dry” for January so wasn’t really socialising, but once I had got through 3 weeks of non-smoking under my belt I started to tell people and had lots of admiration and a little cynical for my endeavour.  This made my life even more difficult getting my head back into work as the internal battle for kicking my habit was also creating problems for me personally in the background.

It was on the 23rd of January 2019 that things started to feel better; I felt the smoking was under control, the drinking hadn’t bothered me too much and I had a plan for the impact of the weight gain to tackle in February (setting goals with a realistic date).  I went to my local Mail Centre (which is run by my partner albeit he was on leave) to support a local initiative “Wellness Day”.  I was supporting a stand of my own for Women’s Health, I did some work with the local Primary Care trust and they had pointed me in the right direction of some websites to download some information for handouts on smear tests women’s cancers, thyroids, menopause etc.  As I was setting up my stand in the canteen on site, I got a tap on my shoulder and there stood an ex-Springboard participant beaming from ear to ear I hugged her and she was very happy to see me.  I asked her how Christmas had been and she said life couldn’t be better.  The reason for this was that when I met her she had been working at our branch in Heathrow (international) and it was on workshop 2 that we were discussing workshop 1 that she pointed out that it had taken her 8.5 hours to get home that night! I was horrified – of course I asked what had happened and she explained that she lived in Essex near the Kent crossing and that there had been an accident on the M25.  I wondered how she had worked so far from home and she explained she had accepted several transfers within the business over the years due to unit closures and had ended up on nights in HWDC (Heathrow).  Seven years she had been doing this journey starting work at 10pm and finishing at 6am Monday to Friday, with some journeys being okay between 1-2 hours and some reaching the heights of 8 hours.  I asked had she ever looked for a transfer and she of course had but to no avail.  My brain was rattling and my heart went out to this lady.

The next day I spoke to my partner about the possibility of a transfer to his Mail Centre in Kent for her and he said following some reorganisation I could probably do this but would have to speak to the local union and also her current Line Management team.  I did this in an email and finally after about 6-weeks which were when we had reached workshop 4 I was able to go in and give her the good news, she cried! And so did her friends as they knew what this meant to her.

She says life is good and Christmas was lovely with her being able to do lots of overtime and still get home at a reasonable time – her travelling time now averages 20-40 minutes!  I also spoke with her new Line Manager whilst at the Wellness Day whom also said what a pleasure she was to work with, she, herself says the Springboard Journey, the Network of colleagues and the support has changed her life.  Seeing her put me back on track with work, and the enthusiasm was back for what I do also the day job was all good.  Springboard makes me feel good and is always worth its while when you get to see the outputs.

I am still not smoking, trying to eat better and have cut down on drinking, which I only ever did at weekends and special occasions.  This month I have joined the gymn along with volunteering locally for a Homeless Shelter where I am helping one night a week and also helping with the commercial marketing for the shelter.   I am also due to do a 60 mile walk for Alzheimer’s in July so my goals have been set for this year.

I am planned in to run another Springboard workshop back at Heathrow in April with another 30 women, which is always exciting and continue to propel my day role and support women beyond Springboard with cv’s, a listening ear and preparing them for interviews.  These women provide me with the motivation to focus and move forward with life when I see what the programme and the networks do for them.

I think my life journey has been propelled further by being a Springboard Facilitator and also practising what I preach in the workshops.  Hopefully reaching 50 in two years’ time will be joyful, healthy and maybe even slimmer!

Julia Ffoulkes – Support Manager and Springboard Facilitator Royal Mail

Views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

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