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Welcome 2021!

Whilst we were all expecting the announcement, it was still a shock and panic to have it confirmed. My son is in his first year at secondary school and is still adjusting to his new norm, so with the announcement between Christmas and New Year that secondary school students wouldn’t be going back until the 18th January, we were well prepared – as was his school.  During the first Lockdown, he took the initiative to set up several zoom calls with different groups of friends from his year, to work through the various worksheets and subjects (there was no online lessons available). It worked brilliantly and he and his mates were working diligently throughout the day (they had to as we were monitoring the calls).  So he knew what to expect.

My daughter, who is 6 years old, is a different kettle of fish altogether.  The first lockdown back in March took our local primary school by surprise.  It’s a great school and achieves outstanding results, but like many primary schools, it’s not geared up for online teaching.  And why would they?

At this age she doesn’t really understand what’s going on with the virus and she’s not used to being at home so much and not being able to play/socialise with her friends at school. Getting her into “school” mode whilst being at home was also difficult – we even resorted to her wearing her school uniform.

Needless to say this lockdown, things are still proving challenging, but there are improvements from the first lockdown (except for the weather!). The primary schools are much more prepared for home learning and lessons via YouTube are working well.  We have set up zoom calls with her grandparents throughout the day and they do the schoolwork together. This, mixed in with online play dates with her friends, and before you know it, the day is done.

Our 20 year old dog Ellie has definitely enjoyed lockdown the most – she loves having the kids at home all the time!

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We don’t need to tell you 2020 has been a tough year for everyone, that’s something we can all agree on. Maybe you’ve been lucky enough to keep your job, but you’ve not been able to see your shielding parents. Maybe you’ve had to make some sacrifices along the way to make ends meet. And maybe you’ve lost people close to you. Everyone has certainly been affected in one way or another.

For some families, putting food on their table every week has been a struggle. Foodbank staff and volunteers have been working tirelessly to help those families and to keep their community fed, as no one should have to go without food.

Bericote embarked on a Christmas incentive to make and deliver 150 Christmas Happiness Hampers to Dartford families in need this Christmas. We worked with all our contractors on The Powerhouse development to raise funds and collect food donations, then used the funds to buy enough food for the hampers – picture about 30 large shopping trollies full!

These were then expertly packed by a team of YMCA employees and volunteers, including myself. In the end we managed to collectively raise £10,000 to create 200 Christmas Happiness Hampers, give 340 local children a Christmas gift each and have plenty of supply leftover to donate to other local foodbanks. We were also able to create 150 ‘hugs in a mug’ which included a YMCA mug, tea, hot chocolate and more.

This quote from a mother who received one of our hampers says it all…

“These hampers are a lifeline. They are the difference between the kids eating and us being able to eat together as a family. I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for us this year.”

My back hurts in places I didn’t know it could – and I’m 25.. I got home after a full 3 days of shopping and hamper packing and my feet were throbbing. You try to make a plan as best you can, but at the end of the day you’re not professionals with vans, crates and equipment – you’re a bunch of enthusiastic people with a dream, a car, bit of side office space and 200 apple boxes, trying to pull this off… ‘Lift with the knees!’

This was my experience on one large project. It was tiresome and stressful for all, but absolutely worth the effort to help those who need it. What blows my mind, is this is something these wonderful employees and volunteers do week in and week out, simply because they believe in helping their fellow neighbours, for little reward or recognition.
Well please know you don’t go unnoticed, and this year Bericote would like to nominate all the foodbank workers and volunteers as our Heroes of 2020.

With a special shout out to; Emma (YMCA), Penny (YMCA), Kirsty (YMCA), Rachele, James, Daisy (National Grid), Sarah, Sandy (The Leigh UTC), Becky, Rebekah, Nishita, Lindsey, Lucy and Natalie for all your tremendous hard work in the last week to make these happiness hampers achievable.

Also a special thanks to all the companies who donated food or money towards the incentive; (Bericote), ISG, MBA Consultants, Brown and Mason, Collier & Associates, National Grid, BlueEarth Construction/Collins Earthworks, CDM Contract Services, Ecology Solutions & Pinnacle.

Merry Christmas all and here’s to a better 2021.

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During my recent stint of Covid isolation, I had been thinking about the experience of watching live sport on TV when attendance is not possible. In particular watching Chelsea; the team I’ve supported for over 50 years which has included far more 2nd division football than I ever wanted.

The first games to be shown during lockdown earlier this year were surreal; no crowd noise or atmosphere, no emotion and in some cases seemingly no energy as the players looked like they were just going through the motions in their new playing environment.

It was like watching an experiment where those participating didn’t really care about the outcome and after a while nor did those poor souls watching it on TV; many hours of my time invested that I’ll never get back (and too many goals conceded).

As the new season has evolved and I can just about recognise the recent signings in Lampard’s new regime (will he last I wonder under the icy stare of our Oligarch), I can honestly say that I now look forward to their games on TV.

It can be difficult to create a suitable environment for watching at home (beer, crisps and nuts help – the bad-tempered cat doesn’t), but I’ve been doing my best and there’s certainly some exciting young players in the team.

The players have adapted to their new playing experience and there’s been lots of surprising results and plenty of goals in many matches. However I do look forward to the day when I can return to Stamford Bridge, drink draft beer and celebrate/commiserate with like-minded mates; and hopefully our defence will be sorted out by then.

Of course throughout this year we have been very busy building the new 2.3m sq ft facility for Amazon at our Littlebrook development. The guys on site have performed magnificently (without any noisy crowds cheering them on), adapted to the evolving Covid rules and in some notable examples have demonstrated world class performances. We’re on track to finish on time and deliver the best quality yet seen by Amazon. And no leaky defence.

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