The lynchpin of the BACR is Janet Alexander, who provides key support to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. Find out more about how Janet has coped during lockdown in her blog below.
As the only member of staff employed by the BACR, the BACR being run by an Executive Committee of volunteers nominated by the membership, my role can be quite isolating at times. I have, however, been working in this capacity now for 11 years and believe this has helped me navigate through lockdown and homeworking.
I haven’t worked in the BACR Secretariat office since the 20th March 2020. I am working at my home computer. I’m lucky that I do have a home office that I go to everyday and I can close the door on an evening and weekend.
I am also quite disciplined with myself in that I work my set hours and try not to deviate outside of these. This has given me some structure to my days in lockdown. Being in lockdown has challenged me to learn new things too. We had an antiquated banking system which we could no longer use in these circumstances so had to adapt to on-line banking. We had two conferences planned but these had to be postponed, and we ran our first virtual conference on Zoom in February namely the BACR Student Conference. This was a steep learning curve, I learnt how to use Zoom via LinkedIn Learning and by helping another colleague at Leeds who ran her first event before me. The Leeds University also has an Events Networking Group who share their ideas and experiences which helped. Once I had a plan in place of how to work Zoom, I shared and tested this with the organisers who took control of running the meeting. To enable us to have a poster session of sorts I had to also ensure we complied with GDPR as we had to share delegate information to enable everyone to see the posters and discuss them. On the first day of the conference I was going to admit the delegates when my system failed. Unfortunately, my WIFI isn’t brilliant at home but thankfully after 10 minutes this came back up. One of the video talks took four attempts to play but these were the only hiccups we had and the meeting itself ran and evaluated well. I’ve also had to learn how to use Teams as all the Executive Committee meetings have had to be held on Teams instead of face to face including the AGM. Of course, there is no face to face training courses, so I have had to learn independently, and I am still learning as these platforms are being adapted fast. I’ve completed a membership subscription run from home, drafted and sent a new e-newsletter alert, helped to set up this Blog on the website and keep the membership informed of any events/jobs/news worthy items that have come my way to try and keep the flow of information to help Cancer Researchers network.
Personally, I am fully aware that throughout all this there is a need for me to keep physically active too. Before lockdown I attended a yoga class twice a week. Of course, this is not now available so have downloaded an app on my phone which means I complete 20 minutes of yoga every morning before work. I find this helps me to focus on the day ahead. I also make sure I take a lunch break every day, to be honest I can’t get away with not, as my dog has a built-in clock and natters at the side of me for her walk. So, if we’re looking for silver linings, I’m probably more active now than when I worked in the office!
I also like to keep busy when I’m not working and I’m an avid crafter and have made four baby blankets and a hat and scarf set in lockdown and have other projects on the go to keep me busy. I’ve watched numerous boxsets with the family and when I want some down time I curl up with a good book.
I have experienced COVID personally. I, my husband and youngest daughter all contracted the virus in November. My daughter and I were very fortunate that we only had mild symptoms, but my husband was taken into hospital with a high temperature and breathing difficulties. This was a very scary time for us, but we were one of the fortunate ones in that he is strong man and was discharged after just a week to recover at home.
Family is so important to me and I catch up daily with my eldest daughter via social media now that we can’t go and see her face to face and I also care for my elderly mother and my husband cares for his, they live independently but close by this has probably been the most challenging aspect of COVID keeping them safe and healthy.
The one thing I’ve learnt through all this is how resilient we all are. We’ve learnt to adapt to these challenging circumstances over the last year and I know we have some time to go before we get back to some semblance of normality but thanks to the Scientists and Researchers who have developed the vaccines there is light at the end of this long tunnel.
BACR is a registered charity in England and Wales (289297)
c/o Leeds Institute of Medical Research at St James’s, Cancer Genetics Building,
St James's University Hospital, Beckett Street, Leeds LS9 7TF