<![CDATA[HEATH GUNN - Short Stories & Blogs]]>Sat, 09 Oct 2021 08:51:34 +0000Weebly<![CDATA[No Remorse - first 4 chapters]]>Mon, 06 Sep 2021 15:58:15 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/no-remorse-first-4-chapters
File Size: 186 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[Prisoner the images]]>Tue, 05 Jan 2021 16:15:54 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/prisoner-the-images
File Size: 4199 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[Khan - first four chapters]]>Sun, 08 Nov 2020 14:10:00 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/khan-first-four-chapters
File Size: 202 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[leading through corona - blog 6]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2020 16:18:20 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/leading-through-corona-blog-6

​I interspersed my written blogs with a video blog a few weeks ago, but in keeping with the theme of my site, I thought I would return to the written word for my sixth blog on this subject.

At Enham Trust, we have been able to keep the virus at bay to date. Our services, as outlined in my earlier blogs, were changed and adapted to run in a way to keep people as safe as possible, quite early on and to date we have been fortunate.

We have been reintroducing people to the workplace over the last couple of weeks, with our COVID-secure plans in place. But this is not a time for celebration or complacency and as I write this blog, I am listening to the Prime Minister make gathering in groups of more than six illegal.

It is not a surprise that we have slipped backwards and at Enham we have been planning for the dreaded second wave for a few weeks now.

The thing that stands out most to me when speaking to members of our teams across Enham is the way they have adapted, their commitment to the people we provide services for, and to each other.
The level of peer support has been humbling and one of our key messages throughout this pandemic has been that of self-care. It is vitally important at times of high demand and high stress, that as leaders, we encourage our staff to look after themselves and each other.

The responsibility for this messaging sits squarely with us. 

In leadership roles we are looked to, to provide direction and guidance. We are also responsible for ensuring our staff work in place of safety, both physically and mentally. This means that people we work alongside have to feel comfortable saying when they are struggling, when they need flexibility and when they are feeling overwhelmed. It is only when these conditions exist that we will get the best from people in such unpredictable circumstances. 

None of us truly know how this situation will play out. There are measures we can put in place to keep people a safe as possible, but what we can control is how treat each other.

One of my favourite phrases I have seen posted on social media recently is - 
At a time when you can be anything - be kind.

I think this sums up where my head is when considering how to get the various business activities of the charity moving again, as without being kind to myself and others, giving the space for rest which leads to renewed focus and creativity, our ultimate aims will not be achieved.

This is a time when people are under pressures they would have never considered. Some are finding the enduring period of home working enlightening, others are finding it a trial; and for those who have had to carry on and deliver services they were delivering pre-lockdown, they are fed-up of hearing about home working.
But at Enham one thing is common, all our teams are working flat-out to keep things running and minimise the impact that COVID-19 has on the charity and its beneficiaries.

I am hugely grateful for the work they do and stand ready to make another round of difficult decisions to keep everyone as safe as possible; if we continue down our path towards a second wave. 

Stay safe and well.
<![CDATA[leading through corona - blog 4]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2020 15:25:06 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/leading-through-corona-blog-4Picture

Team Orange before the start of our 2020 Staff Conference in January

Over the last few weeks, the toll that coronavirus has had at many levels, has been a stark reminder that we are here for a given time and that we seldom know when t hat time will be up. 
Globally, nationally and locally this universal truth, in recent memory, has never been so stark. 
Our teams at Enham Trust have done a fantastic job to date changing their ways of working to make sure that the people we are responsible for providing services to can continue to benefit from them. 
The direct impact on our people has been clear in the many video calls we have had over the last few weeks. As we settle in to what is our current normality, of Teams, Zoom or Skype calls, interspersed with a lesser number of phone calls, I have noticed that email traffic is noticeably down. My assumption is that in these times of mass working from home, we need the pseudo-personal interaction that a video call gives. That ability, in whatever form, to connect with other people. 
I read with interest a blog by one of my Directors who, as a self confessed introvert and “not a people person” observed that she needed the interaction with those she works with, to help her manage the wide range of challenges coronavirus has presented.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of email, and have often explained my concentration span with them in terms of needing four lines or less, to retain my interest. Preferring instead to talk to people and see for myself how they are and how happy they are with their lot.
Through the magic of regular video calling, we have established closer relationships with some of our teams, than we had pre-corona. Calls that have enabled us to find out how our staff are, how well equipped they are for these new ways of working and what help we can offer to make their days easier. 
These improved communications will undoubtedly stay in place long after coronavirus has drifted into the vastness of our collective memories, as their value is incalculable in helping us to connect with the people we work alongside. 
In the same way as I lo  ok forward to my monthly lunches, with a group of nominated staff, because I can get to know a little about them and their lives out side work, I will now also look forward to the video calls we will have with our remotely based team members. Those who can’t just pop into the office for a chat, and who it is too easy to  forget about until something prompts me to think about them individually. 
So, on reflection there are some benefits to the madness that is the coronavirus and as with everything in life, there is learning to be had, self improvement to be gained and new behaviours to         adopt. 
I’m sure there will be many more challenges in the short-to-medium term that this virus will throw at us; and I’m confident that with the people we have working across the whole of Enham Trust, we will have  a response to whatever they may be.
I hope you find my reflections useful, if you’d like to get in touch, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m easy to find. 

Until next time, Stay safe and well.

<![CDATA[leading through corona - blog 3]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2020 15:21:52 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/leading-through-corona-blog-3Picture

While we were making the decisions I outlined in my last blog, to equip and eventually send our office based teams to work from home, we also had to consider the best way to keep the vulnerable people we are responsible for safe. This includes some of our staff in our supported employmen t services and social enterprises, as well as the people we provide housing and care for.  
There are some real complexities introduced into the equation when you start to consider how to keep people safe who have a limited understanding of why safety measures may need to be put in place, alongside the emotional impact those measures are going to have, as you make enforced changes to the ways people live and work. 
In our social enterprises, where we work with some great organisations such as Fortnum and Mason, Twinings and Estee Lauder, we have a high percentage of staff who have a learning/physical disability and whose social networks are based around their work. When the national picture shifted for these organisations, we understandably saw a subsequent reduction in business and we had to make a two-fold decision. One part was to respond to the needs of the business and safeguard the future of people’s jobs in the best way we could, for when we come out of the other side of this. The other and more important part, was to safeguard the health of our people who spend their working day in close proximity to each other, with some finding it difficult to grasp the reality around protective measures, like social distancing.
Following the latest government guidance we made the difficult decision to furlough the bulk of our social enterprise staff. As I was working from home, we gathered the team into our training room and I dialled in   on a teams call to explain to them that I wanted them to go home, stay safe and that we would call them when we needed them to come back to work, and that their main job now, was to look after themselves. As we waited for this call to start and the team filed into the room, my Director of Operations and I had our decision to furlough the team confirmed, as being the right one for them, as they filed into the training room and grouped together in twos and threes. 
I found this call one of the toughest we’ve had to make as I know how big-a part of their lives work is and how isolated some could potentially be, by being sent home.

Another decision, which was made to keep vulnerable people safe, came when we took the step to close our day opportunities service and close our three care homes and transitional service, to all external visitors. I knew, even as we were considering this, that it would have a significant impact on around one hundred people we support and about the same number of staff.
It meant that individuals, who spend much of their week, doing a wide variety of activities from drama and choir, to gardening and art, could no longer access the service, and were also advised to follow the social distancing guidance. Which meant a massive change to their daily routines, together with changing how their socialising and peer networks would function.
For those in the care homes, we were able to move activity delivery into the homes, but for those who live in their own flats, in and around our village, it meant a drastic change to their normality. Some of those directly effected by this, really didn’t get it and I had some heart-wrenching conversations in the days that followed the announcement. Chats that started with, “When is Choices going to be open?” when I answered, “Not for a while.” The follow-up question was invariably, “So will it be open next week?” It is this lack of understanding and level of vulnerability that exposes people to massive risk during this crisis and why the decisions, as tough as they may be, have to made.
With regard to closing the homes to external visitors, this had a direct impact, not only on the residents themselves, many of whom don’t have the ability to understand why their families have stopped coming to visit. But also on their families, some of whom are actively involved in the lives of their loved ones and while they have been both supportive  and understanding of our decision, the change for all concerned has been significant.  
We have set up a 72 hour quarantine for personal items being dropped from families and our care staff have been fantastic at supporting our residents to maintain contact with their families through Skype, WhatsApp and other ways that work for people. To date our team’s positivity in the face of these unusual circumstances, has made the lives of those we support much more bearable than they would otherwise have been and for that I am hugely appreciative and humbled on a daily basis. 
The impact of the decisions I’ve outlined and many more like them, have caused me to have many-a sleepless night and have sometimes I know, pushed members of my team and me mentally and emotionally. The multiple issues we have taken on, at pace, have been a challenge and have pushed what can be reasonably expected from our people in a working environment. But we will get through this and from it we will be a stronger team and more well-rounded organisation. The future, post coronavirus, is something I look forward to and I know it will present us with new opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible without the learning gained during this most-steep of curves. 
I hope you find my reflections useful, if you’d like to get in touch, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m easy to find. 

Until next time, Stay safe and well.

<![CDATA[leading through corona - blog 2]]>Wed, 09 Sep 2020 15:02:37 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/leading-through-corona-blog-2
As the UK Government started to up the anti, with their updates becoming more regular with increasingly stark messages, it became clear that we needed to prepare for a very different way of working across the Trust.
To this end we spent a week testing our systems in order to ready ourselves for the bulk of our office based and remote staff to be able to work from home.
Our Direct Payments Teams, who work with thousands of disabled people to help them employ their own care teams, across five counties from Hampshire to Plymouth, all needed to be able to carry out their roles virtually. This was in order to reduce the number of contact they had with vulnerable people, but continue to provide the vital support needed to ensure people’s care carried on. Aligned to this service are our managed accounts and payroll teams, who are based in our Andover head office and need to be fully operational, to make sure these same vulnerable people can pay their care teams, wherever they are. 
We split our corporate support teams into two and had half of them working from home, to test the demand on our IT systems and to check which functions could carry on away from the office.
While our fantastic IT team did a great job of rallying round and ensuring everyone had the right equipment and network access, the people in the operational teams showed a massive amount of flexibility and willingness to adapt. 
The decision to test having people work from home, while relatively easy in itself, provoked a deeper conversation about how mentally well-equipped our teams were for the isolation of home working. After a lengthy discussion at the daily meeting and further discussions in individual teams, each department came up with their own creative ways to stay in touch and recreate the office camaraderie that forms such an essential part of life at Enham. 
From Skype lunch breaks, to increased use of the staff facebook page and dance challenges, each and every person recognised the role they could play in the communal well-being of each other. 
It is this consistent care for each other that makes me proud of my teams and what they have achieved during this crisis to date. 
Soon after testing and fixing the issues that this threw up, we made the decision the reduce the exposure our staff had to the virus and their potential to spread to other people. Our remote staff teams were moved to full-time home working and with the exception of the senior management team, our head office teams were moved to full-time home working too. This had a massive impact on the feel of the place and an exponential increase to the volume of phone and video calls being made in the course of a day. We have developed a truly open-door way of working over the last three years, with anyone able to come and speak to whoever they want, to help them with whatever they need, so the shift to having everyone on the other end of a screen was slightly surreal.
Alongside this Enham change, came the instruction from Government for people with underlying health conditions to self isolate. We had also, in the week of testing, sent anyone with cold or flu-like home for seven days, just to be safe. We also had our first staff with suspected symptoms self isolate and two were tested, thankfully coming back clear.
This focus on people’s physical and mental health has remained a focus of our daily coronavirus meetings and we have formed a well-being group specifically targeted at helping our staff and those in our care, through the coming weeks.
I hope you find my reflections useful, if you’d like to get in touch, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m easy to find. 
Until next time, Stay safe and well.
<![CDATA[Leading through crisis - a coronavirus blog 1]]>Tue, 31 Mar 2020 20:28:01 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/leading-through-crisis-a-coronavirus-blog-1
Some of our residents getting competative 

I am the CEO of disability charity, Enham Trust, which is based in rural Hampshire, just outside Andover. We support around 6000 disabled people a year in all aspects of their lives, across the South-West of England, between Hampshire and Plymouth. Our core delivery centres around Housing, Care and Employment services, we are also fortunate in that we own most of the village of Enham Alamein, where our head office is. 
The village and charity were founded after the First World War to support war wounded soldiers returning from battle, by a gift from the King and has evolved over the last 100 years.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s useful to have an understanding of the breadth of services delivery and setting at Enham in order that what I intend to share in this blog makes sense.  
The photo above was taken at the second, of two identical days in January this year, when we held our staff conference at Thruxton Race Circuit. The purpose of the conference was to launch our new five years strategy and values to the whole Trust, after three very tough years of organisational turnaround. It was a runaway success with staff feedback from all area of the business being overwhelmingly positive.
As I sit here writing this blog at the end of March, that conference seems like a long-long time ago.
At the start of this month the news of coronavirus spreading to the UK began to take hold and by the start of the second week, the numbers had risen from a handful, with no deaths, to over a thousand and people were starting to die.
Our tracking of the virus started early on at Enham, given the complexity and vulnerability, of some of the people we are responsible for providing services to. 
It quickly became apparent, from the way the virus was spreading and the messaging from the UK Government that our priorities needed to be keeping our staff and the 6000 people who the charity serves as safe as possible. My teams have done an amazing job in completely unpredictable and rapidly changing conditions, over the last few weeks and the experience for all has been intense and pressurised to say the least.
As the daily updates from government started and the increasingly frenetic media activity ramped up, so too did the volume of spiralling conversations in the office, that were being swept along by the spread of the virus and how we should react. 
After a few days of seeing and hearing people around me becoming increasingly weighed down by the size of the problem we were facing, I decided to pull all of the conversations together into one daily meeting, involving a team specifically tasked with tracking our response to government and NHS advice. A group that could take dynamic decisions and ensure the safety of all. This was done for a couple of reasons, one was to put a process around an unpredictable situation, making it easier to track and manage that our decisions were timely and proportionate. The other reason was to safeguard the mental health of my senior management team, who, even without symptoms of their own, were starting to feel battered by coronavirus. Ensuring the well-being of our people in times of crisis is essential, as often, people will struggle in silence when the pressure is really on, assuming roles way beyond that which is normally, or reasonably expected and without some controls being put in place, the vital early signs of struggle go unnoticed. 
As dull as it may sound, a risk assessment and action plan accompanied this meeting and our full range of business continuity plans were reviewed against the pandemic threat. 
This action plan has been reviewed daily, since the first meeting and by the 23rd of March it consisted of 94 actions, 87 of which had been completed, and is growing daily.
Over the coming blogs, I will share my thoughts and feelings as this crisis has unfolded, but to summarise to date there have been days when I’ve really felt the weight of the decision making involved, in both volume and potential severity of outcome. There have been days when I’ve got home from work, unable to decide what I want eat for dinner, such has been the volume decision taken in the day. There have also been days when I have literally been all talked-out, which is a very unusual feeling for someone who is generally a chatty, positive leader who definitely sits on the extroverted side of things. 
I hope you find my reflections useful, if you’d like to get in touch, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. I’m easy to find. 
Until next time, Stay safe and well.

<![CDATA[Prisoner chapter one]]>Sun, 10 Nov 2019 17:56:47 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/prisoner-chapter-one
File Size: 999 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

<![CDATA[A SHORT STORY]]>Thu, 31 Oct 2019 23:38:36 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/a-short-storyThe Empty Room

As she sat on the floor in the corner, surrounded by a sea of dark knotted timber, whispers of distant memories began to trickle into her mind. Beth scrunched her eyes as tightly as her face would allow, trying to block out echoes of her past. 
She failed.
As the torturous images of Christmas’s gone by began to stream into her consciousness, she flicked her eyes open. Immediately opposite her was a wall covered in old brown and orange flowered wallpaper, a tidemark of damp crept its way along the lower half, cutting two of the dirty orange flowers cleanly in half. She traced the line of rot along the surface of the wall in an attempt to distract her from her inward mental hell. The dark brown line tracked over the wallpaper like the cracks that ran through Beth's mind. 

Broken by years of abuse and neglect, a shell of the bright young girl she had started out to be. So full of life and vitality she had once been, but then the beatings had begun. She remembered spending hours locked in rooms just like this one, empty and baron with not a stick of furniture to warm the harshness of cold, bare walls, and dusty, damp carpets.
'Is this anyway to spend Christmas day?' she mused to herself.
The timber beneath her had warmed from her body heat, such that it was. But the wind howled past the rickety wooden framed windows, and the chill in the air cut through to Beth's bones.
Beth had spent the last four of her sixteen years on the streets, and had hardened sufficiently to withstand a chill breeze from a neglected window. At least tonight she would have a roof above her and no need to sleep in fear of what fate may befall her during the night. Her life had become a downward spiral of exploitation and terror.
Tonight however, she would be safe, the door to this vast empty room had a rusty key in the lock and Beth had turned it keenly as soon as she had closed the thick, heavy, white door, that filled the frame.

Sliding her hands into the left pocket of her ragged grey coat she took out a syringe, the contents of which she had drawn up earlier in the day. From the right pocket a small thin belt.
Jiggling her arm from the sleeve of the heavy woollen wrapping, she secured the belt around her pale, thin, upper-arm with her teeth. She slapped her vein to the surface and slid the thin cold needle into a familiar patch on her skin.
Glancing up like a rabbit caught in headlights she cast her gaze around the empty room.
‘Merry Christmas Beth,’ she whispered to herself as she dropped the needle to floor and drifted into her drug induced haven.

<![CDATA[Winds of my mind]]>Wed, 04 Sep 2019 15:53:00 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/winds-of-my-mind
<![CDATA[A place to start]]>Wed, 29 May 2019 10:31:16 GMThttp://heathgunn.com/short-stories--blogs/a-place-to-startAs this was my first blog, written in February 2015, it seemed appropriate that it be the first one I post on the blog page of this, my new website.

Gone too soon

Of all the things I’ve written, stories, poems, a multitude of papers and assignments; one avenue of expression has so far been unexplored, the blog. So it is with much trepidation that I sit here on a Saturday evening writing my first.

So why now you may ask?

The answer is a simple one, I’ve been moved by events of this last week to reflect on life, loss and inspiration. At the start of the week a close colleague passed away suddenly, a passing which sent many around me into what I can only describe as a free-fall. The impact felt immediately by a relatively new, but close team, was all consuming. The air seemed to be sucked from the room as we were given the news and a shared sense of loss swept over us like a tidal wave. However the greatest sense of loss within the room was not for ourselves, but for the family of our friend and colleague. James left a young and unexpecting family about whom he spoke with an animated passion, as he did everything in his life.

It was this passion that inspired those around him and drew people to him, like a magnet of humanity, sincere, inspiring and honest. Whether he was speaking of his family, charity or church commitments, or about the services we provide to some of the most vulnerable people in society. James’s passion and strong sense of belief in humanity made those around him instantly trust one of the most authentic people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

There will no doubt be many reflections on the time spent with James over the coming days and weeks, by those he worked with and those closer. But it is not an insightful comment or inspiring speech, of which there many, nor the way he managed to make even the most stressful situation seem manageable, that I will remember about James. 
The memory that will stay with me will be of the Father, who sat with his young son, in my living room one evening in January, chatting about everything and anything, and the warmth and love I observed between Father and Son as James and I sat talking.

You have left a void that will never be filled and am pleased to have known you, if only for a short while.

Rest In Peace James]]>