Continuing our series of what Gallowglass Event Crew have been up to over the last 12 months - here is April 2020.
Boris Johnson returned to Downing Street at the end of April after contracting COVID.
There were PPE shortages in hospitals.
The Job Retention Scheme was launched enabling employers to furlough employees
Queueing to get into your local supermarket is one of the many things we all start getting used to.
PLASA launches the #WeMakeEvents campaign.
The number of shifts we would normally do dropped by 90%!!!
View from the top
Paul Grecian – Chairman of the Gallowglass Group
Whilst everything had been cancelled last month the numbers hadn’t been too drastic as we had to derig everything that we had been building since the start of the year, particularly at MWC in Barcelona. This month is different though. Disaster looms and my hip still hurts like hell. The crisis isn’t going to pass in days or weeks and we have to turn to whatever government support is available. A team is assembled to address something called “furlough” and we open negotiations with the bank to consider a CBIL loan or as those in the know referred to it as a “Sybil”.
On the front line
Stephen Bridgewater – Senior Crew Chief – Wales and South West
Although most regular work was grinding to a halt, I pick up some shifts working for The Circle Agency Limited with Costa Coffee as the end client. This Costa initiative was to move as much of the product they had lying in warehouses and shops that were not to open for the foreseeable future. They chose to give their coffee away free to our emergency service men and women. As well as keeping me busy I felt a great sense of pride in doing a very small part of keeping spirits up within the front-line workers that were dealing with the disease head on. I spent a week doing nothing but this to hospitals and police stations throughout the South West and Wales. Everyone was extremely grateful.
Scott Young – Senior Crew Chief – Scotland
This doesn’t seem so bad. Work with The Circle Agency Limited for Costa Coffee had me travelling more of Scotland in the first week than I had in the last year.
Dave Gregory – Senior Crew Chief – London
I was sitting at home when I got a call for a freelance job asking me to go and work in the Excel Nightingale Hospital for the whole of April, I was so happy and relieved to get money and be working even though it was a hot spot to work in with all the sick people.
Mark Visser – Crew Chief – London
Sign documentation for furlough – thank you Gallowglass management for making the necessary arrangements for crew to receive furlough.
Marwan Zeghbib – Crew Chief – London
There was a surreal feeling that life as we knew it had come to a sudden halt. The nature of our job required us to work intensively, around the clock, and sleep at erratic hours. Time flies when you are a Gallow, as you pretty much start thinking about the next evening or day’s work halfway through the shift you are on. Therefore, the feeling of benefiting from so much free time from one day to the next broke that Gallow rhythm and had one wonder how to accommodate so much FREE time.
The news of the Events Industry not being left out by the Government’s support scheme came as a massive relief in the form of Furlough. Most colleagues I spoke to expressed the same feeling of satisfaction: we work hard enough to be deserving of support in difficult times, as do all the major sectors, and furlough felt like a reward for the many, many hours put into hard work and client satisfaction. We felt valued.
What happened in BD
Antony Cook – Head of Business Development
Government furlough scheme has kicked off, which you imagine would be a good thing for us all, but the reality was that not all the freelancer/self-employed people that make up the majority of workers in hospitality & events were eligible to sign up. I spent the bulk of my time on the phone to freelancers/production managers seeing how they were coping; ‘keeping my head just above water’ was the most common response.
What happened in HR
Chris Parry-Jones – Director of Human Resources
Furlough was announced – great! It meant that we could furlough all our staff and crew knowing that at the very least they would have some money coming in. Working our way through the constantly changing rules and regs was a chore but far better than not having the support. Whilst we were pleased all our guys were PAYE our hearts went out to the freelancers, especially those who slipped between the gaps. Alyssa made the choice to go back to Australia (home) just in case and we couldn’t even have a goodbye drink.
What happened in IT
Darren Thorley – Head of IT
Furlough started – this was a life saver for us as it helped us look after our crew as best we could. It certainly wasn’t easy to implement and I’m not ashamed to admit that the constant tweaking by HMRC of the rules almost broke myself and one or two others. If you had less than 100 employees, HMRC made it nice and easy with an online calculator, if you have more (like us) you had to figure it out from the website guidance and upload it in a spreadsheet. The constant changes made this exceptionally challenging, but we got there.
Owing to the tasks and projects I needed to complete, I was one of the few not furloughed along with a couple of other team members.
We completed the migration to Microsoft Teams with zero impact on end users (and our clients and crew calling in). It was incredible how everyone took to using it and how it enhanced our day to day operations significantly.
I started to talk to the Microsoft FastTrack team about migrating all of our on-premises server infrastructure. They had called me out of the blue to chat about what we already had in Azure (the Microsoft Cloud). They could not have been more helpful.