Donate Venue Hire
The Stationers' Company
The City of London Livery Company for the Communications and Content Industries


6 JUNE 2020

Rising to the Challenge # 2 - Wellbeing

Further to the Rising to the Challenge # 1  virtual event on how members were helping the NHS in various ways, and in one case pivoting to create an entirely new  product, the Industry Committee was pleased to arrange  Rising to the Challenge #2 on 5 June 2020.  Members should login and view the article here where they can also watch the webinar

Liveryman Jonathan Grun reports:

When children’s book publisher Kate Wilson was cycling to work on March 18 she was worried that her young readers were becoming frightened about the looming coronavirus crisis.

By the time Kate arrived at the offices of Nosy Crow she had decided to publish an ebook explaining Covid-19 to a young audience.

At 8.22am Kate emailed Axel Scheffler, the world-renowned illustrator who has delighted millions of families with his pictures of the Gruffalo, and asked if he would collaborate on the project.

“By nine o’clock he came back and said he would,” said Kate, adding: “We wanted to do it fast and we wanted to do it free.”

The genesis of the book was a conversation with Kate’s best friend Sarah, a headteacher in Tower Hamlets, who told her how children were very scared about the epidemic.

“She was talking about how challenging it was for the children in her school and for their parents to find ways to understand the coronavirus.

“She had kids crying in the corridor, saying they were going to die. They had no real sense of it other than fear.”

The book was published on the company’s website on April 6 and it was also offered to publishers overseas on condition that it was a free publication.

It has now been downloaded more than 1.2 million times and has been translated into 60 languages.

Here is the ebook:

Kate said: “It felt like a small thing that we could use our expertise to do. There was no financial gain, but I think it is a thing that has helped our staff to think about what our purpose is as a business.”

Kate’s initiative was one of three inspiring stories presented at the Company’s second Rising to the Challenge webinar, which focused on how the pandemic has proved to be a catalyst for innovation – particularly to help young people.

Social entrepreneur David Barker, chair of the Information Technologists’ education and training committee, described how an inspirational video he made about the challenges of Covid-19 has been viewed more than 270,000 times and has reached 50 countries. You can see it here:

The video - Overcoming Crisis with an Entrepreneur's Mindset - was suggested by Canterbury Christ Church University, who felt that students graduating into a post-Covid world needed advice.

In it David draws on on his own experiences of overcoming challenges, which started even before he left school.

He said: “I was told at 15 by my own careers adviser that if you’re from a poor background you will never get into technology – give up now.

“Thankfully I didn’t listen and I left school at 16, unemployed, rather than change my dream.”

David added: “Everyone’s got a dream. It may have been disrupted by Covid, but the dream’s not gone, it’s just that the route to get there might have changed.”

And the response has been positive. “One person said they were sat in a dark place, thinking their life was destroyed, and this was exactly what they needed to hear.”

Ben Mason, Founder and CEO of online platform globalbridge, a pioneering EdTech platform connecting young people and education with employers and opportunity, has uploaded over 12,000 students to the platform in the last five weeks. The site is here:

Ben told webinar chair Carol Tullo that the pandemic had shown up flaws in the education qualifications system.

“What Covid, and the cancellation of exams this summer has done, is actually to identify a key shortcoming in the system - of grades being the sole source of evidence of a young person’s ability.”

His platform gives young people the opportunity to create a digital profile that demonstrates their ability – and helps them compete with students from well-connected families.

“If I have had a rough start in life, if I am from a lower socio-economic background and my school doesn’t do me any favours, how do I actually have the same links as a student whose parents might work in a great industry and who has got teachers who will make connections for them?”

Ben’s platform is a hybrid mix of Facebook and Linkedin for education.

He said: “It is giving students a digital multimedia profile to evidence their skills, talents, qualifications.”

Carol Tullo said of the webinar: “The three personal stories reinforced the importance of support and help to young people, particularly the vulnerable or disadvantaged, who may feel they are a lost 2020 generation who have put their education on hold. Our speakers demonstrated that was far from the case.”