A Friday Chat with Searcys People Advisor at Blenheim Palace, Helen Skinner5 February 2021
Morning, Helen. Tell us about yourself
I have been working for Searcys for the past three years as People Advisor for Searcys team at Blenheim Palace. I am married to Steve and am a proud mother of three daughters and a labradoodle called Holly.
What is the best part of your role?
Working with people is my absolute passion. I love liaising with schools and colleges to bring new talent to our business. We have been working with the City of Oxford College and Witney and Abingdon colleges to offer apprentices, work experience, and weekend jobs. The venue, the history, the company – I love sharing our stories to promote a career in hospitality to the youngsters who might not have considered this.
It was terrific to see Searcys teamwork together over the summer and autumn months last year. We came up with a fantastic al-fresco dining concept in our beautiful Italian Gardens. Looking after 4,500 guests in the new stringent Covid-safe way was no mean feat.
What are your wellbeing tips in these challenging times?
If 2020 taught us anything, it is the importance of focusing on our own wellbeing. A third lockdown is now in place. While this is not how most of us at Searcys imagined we would enter the new year, there are still some lovely things that we can do to cheer ourselves up – and many of them don’t cost a penny. Here are some ideas to brighten your day.
1. Do something different!
I started to learn Spanish, just on a free app, which was enjoyable and took me out of my comfort zone. Need some more inspiration? Have a look here: https://searcys.co.uk/what-i-did-during-lockdown-from-baking-to-jewellery-making/. We asked our team members what they have been up to during the lockdown months and their tips for taking care of their mental wellbeing.
When you have time on your hands, it’s something to get your teeth into. I have started spending time in the garden, for the first time. It never really interested me before, so I started small and planted some sunflowers seeds. Then, I grew beetroot. I hope my new-found gardening skills can help me with hydrangeas. They always die on me!
3. Use the time to finesse your skills
I continued to study during the lockdowns, completing a professional HR qualification – Level 5 CIPD qualification.
4. Go for a walk
It might not seem like the most enjoyable thing to do, especially if the weather is not the most pleasant where you are, but we guarantee you will feel that little bit better afterwards. If you can, head to a park, as spending time in nature does give you an even greater mood boost. But if you can’t, don’t worry – you’ll get exactly what you need simply from the movement and spending time in natural daylight. Try to spot five things that are beautiful while you’re out, or even pick a colour and see how many times you can see it on your stroll.
5. Think of three things you’re looking forward to
Each month, Action For Happiness (https://www.actionforhappiness.org/) shares a new calendar of tips and tricks you can try throughout the month to give yourself a boost. For example, February’s calendar focuses on friendliness. One of the calendar daily suggestions is to write down three positive things you’re looking forward to this year. Also, if you look past the next couple of months, we are sure you can find a handful of things to feel good and even excited about.
6. Overhaul your social media with things that make you smile… (like dogs or cats!)
You can follow trends and topics and accounts, so instead of just scrolling, why not actively choose to follow some happier themes instead?
7. Most importantly, do what’s right for you and yours
Look after yourself and be kind. I recently had a birthday and was overwhelmed by the number of well wishes I got on social media. Make a rule to call a family member or a friend regularly. Taking two minutes to check in on someone can make a difference.
8. Talking about enjoying the world around us… what is your favourite spot at Blenheim Palace?
It has to be the Water Terraces. I love to grab a couple of minutes to sit in the most beautiful gardens with a cup of tea and a slice of coffee cake, savouring that split second that it’s all mine.
9. What are you most looking forward to?
It must be welcoming our visitors back to Blenheim and being busy again. This year we have a new restaurant development, so fingers crossed for an opening in Spring. On a personal note, I’m looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality and being busy again.