Let’s reflect, as we say ‘goodbye’ to 2021

As we are coming to the end of the year, many of us will be reflecting, more than ready to say goodbye to the past 12 months.

With that in mind, our Managing Director, Alexis Powell-Howard, has put together her thoughts…

2021 has been the year where we began to try and live with COVID and its constantly evolving variants. I’ve noticed that when anyone tries to remember something that has happened, it’s hard to pin point exactly when it took place – and we are using phrases like ‘oh I don’t know, I think it was pre COVID,’ like we have stepped in to come strange vortex where time has become elusive.

I feel I am reflecting on two years really, as 2020 and 2021 have been so inextricably linked by our current situation. At Fortis we are helping more people than ever before, in more ways than ever before. It has been a year of contradictions – having seen people at their most vulnerable with an increase in depression, stress, loss and grief, anxiety, suicidal ideation, health anxiety, eating disorders and disordered eating, relationship breakdowns, and reactions to change, from all ages and backgrounds, that indicate traumatic experiences and responses.

In our work in schools, and with the children and young people we see outside of schools, we have seen an impact too on their development, ability, readiness to learn, as well as social/attachment difficulties in relationships and the worries, stress and burnout being held and experienced by teams in education and their leadership teams (and for parents).

In businesses we have seen people worry about returning to the workplace, or teams feeling aggrieved or split between furloughed and non-furloughed teams, with managers and leaders who have found themselves in unchartered territories – thinking, how do I manage people effectively in these circumstances? How do I recruit the right people, or anyone for that matter, in this current climate? How do we negotiate BREXIT and keep our business viable? To small business owners who have in some cases struggled to keep going, sadly losing their livelihood.

We have seen the impact on the people in emergency services and the NHS, with the battle rhythm and battle fatigue being oh so evident in how they present when they access our services – they have been doing a job, often swimming against the tide, and the payoff sadly, is actually the people themselves.


We have seen other outcomes too. People have had time to reflect and/or have had change thrust upon them as a result of the changes that have rippled out from the pandemic. People have been more readily asking for help and support. Schools have been recognising the adults needs, and the impact of supporting them, to enable teams to continue to support the children and young people in their schools. We have been able to support pupils and help schools recognise the impact of their experiences on how they present now – ‘what’s happened to you?’, rather than, ‘what’s wrong with you?’

Organisations and businesses are investing in ‘proper’ wellbeing for their biggest resource, their people – not ‘just’ ticking boxes to look ‘as if’ wellbeing is being considered. We have seen more flexibility in ways of working and encouraging signs businesses are reviewing how to support and invest in their people and their personal and professional development.

There has been some people resisting returning to the previous ‘normal’ because, on reflection, normal didn’t actually work that well for them.

There have been new start-up businesses, with entrepreneurs, who have previously been intrapreneurs working as an employee, taking the plunge to see if they can make their aspirations come to life. The business communities have pulled together to support each other in growing their businesses and supporting the local economies.

The words ‘self-care’ have come synonymous with mental health and emotional wellbeing. We have posed the question many hundred times over the past two years, what are you doing to look after yourself? How are you meeting your own duty of self-care? Who can help you?

We are increasingly talking with and training people on managing their boundaries, learning to make choices, learning to say no and to feel empowered.

So, other than looking forward to a Christmas break, what do I hope for 2022?

I am looking forward to us finding more ways to live our lives the way we choose to, as Covid is here to stay, and I hope the impact of the last two years is less than we suspect it will be.

I am looking forward to family times and hopefully a holiday! And while I am a huge believer in ‘controlling the controllable’, there are some things changing, whether I want them to or not! One of my three children, my son, will be going off to Uni. He is a cracking young man, and I will miss him madly.

I am looking forward to driving Fortis forward with our tribe of amazing people who buy in, on a daily basis, to this vision we have created together. The business is ever evolving, helping as many people as we can, as innovatively as we can.

I am incredibly grateful for all the amazing people who trust us, and who choose to work with us, in whatever capacity that might be and hope this will continue in 2022!

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If you have any questions at all about mental health, please do get in touch with the team by calling 01472 241794 or emailing [email protected]

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