There are many heart-warming stories about public support to combat coronavirus. Meet Mel Larsen, the freelancer using her skills to make a difference.
After running her business crisis strategy course for the sixth time, self-employed coach and consultant Mel decided to run it again, but with a difference. Despite times being difficult for us all right now, the 55-year-old decided to donate all profits to the food bank charity, Trussell Trust.
“The onset of the virus was a shock to us all and I saw that my clients, small businesses and freelancers, and their networks were really struggling”, Mel tells me. “I wanted to support them and show them ways to regain a sense of balance and power even in these very difficult circumstances.
“I looked at what had helped me regain my own balance. I looked around to see what approaches and innovations were inspiring me. I also drew on my years of experience – being a freelancer demands that you are resilient and agile even at the best of times.
“I then turned all of that into an online workshop called, ‘Find a Way for your Small Business’ which has proved to be enormously popular.”
The course, designed to help freelancers and small businesses stay afloat during a crisis, has so far raised a staggering £890 for Trussell Trust.
Sharing mind-magic with others
It is clear that Mel runs these sessions with a genuine desire to help as many people as she can. “To me, business building is an endlessly fascinating, ever-changing Rubik’s Cube”, Mel explains, “I simply love helping others build their business and I love building my own too.
“I discovered personal development in my early twenties. As soon as I experienced how it’s possible to change your mindset to get better results, I wanted to be a coach and share that mind-magic with others. Combining effective strategy with managing your own state of mind really gives you the edge.”
It has since been Mel’s mission to share that ‘mind magic’ with others – with an infectious enthusiasm that has been so rare in recent months. Mel tells me how she has added more regular weekly ‘Quarantine Sessions’ into her offering, due to the outbreak.
Mel also runs sessions called ‘Co-Working Magic’ every Friday, where both Mel and guest speakers seek to motivate freelancers. “There are almost 80 people in the programme now although they don’t all turn up at once”, Mel laughs, “these extra sessions are free but I’ve just started asking for donations – again for food banks – for those that can afford to give.”
Coronavirus has made Mel look closer to home
I asked Mel why she chose to donate the profits to Trussell Trust. “I like to work to a win/win/win paradigm which basically means whatever I do in my business has to benefit the client, myself and the world.
“Normally I fundraise to help small businesses in developing countries, but for this situation I wanted to look closer to home after I saw an article that highlighted how those living in poverty would suffer even more.
“It’s outrageous that even before coronavirus, almost one in three children in the UK was living in poverty. I knew that this was an area I just had to support immediately because it will get much worse with the knock-on impact of the virus. The Guardian newspaper recommended donating to Trussell Trust, so I decided to go with them.”
At the end of the interview, Mel said something that has stuck with me since, as it captures perfectly everything wonderful about her: “This is a time when we will all be tested and I want to look back and know I did my bit. When communities work together to make a difference, miracles can happen.”
Freelancers doing their bit
Mel is one of many freelancers who are doing their bit to help the fight against coronavirus. Lee Chambers, a freelance Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant, has joined Frontline19 – a service offering free therapy sessions to NHS employees. “The driver behind this is the fact that in 2014 I lost the ability to walk, and the NHS played a big part in helping me relearn”, Lee says.
“If I help a few NHS employees keep their wellbeing intact, then every patient they see, every day, will get a better experience. This means for a few hours of my time; I can make a massive impact on thousands of people that are treated by the frontline workers that I’ve helped.”
Sian Meades-Williams, curator of the Freelance Writing Jobs newsletter, is donating 50% of the profits from her newsletter to help freelance writers who need financial support during Coronavirus.
In the darkest of times, it’s important to celebrate those who are working hard to help others. Mel, Lee, Sian – everyone who is helping the effort against this virus, we thank you.
Find out more about Mel’s courses here.