The UK Exhibition Industry, who rallied to build the Nightingale Hospitals in a matter of days at the beginning of the pandemic, has been largely forgotten by government business support plans and its largely freelance community are falling on serious hard times.
Undeterred, there have been many examples of community pulling together to gain government attention, awareness and help, none less so than the latest endeavour; Eventwell Pledge. They are fighting back and coming together in a way that questions why such an inclusive, supportive and tenacious industry has been so grievously overlooked.
Back in March, at the beginning of the pandemic, Nightingale Hospitals were created in record time. The Nightingales were built by the UK Exhibition Industry who came together to provide the equipment, labour, skills and expertise to create fully working hospitals across the UK in a matter of days.
Since this monumental feat, the same industry has been dubbed ‘not viable’ by the government it assembled to assist. Previously successful businesses have been forced to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been or are imminently lost, companies with decades of trading have gone under, livelihoods have been ruined and identities lost. The events industry has been left to fend for its own survival. All despite event and exhibition industries in other European countries being actively supported financially and in some cases encouraged by their governments to continue to open events.
Lou Kiwanuka, founder of the Shaper Group and Vice Chair of ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association, pictured) says, “It has been absolutely heart breaking watching established businesses go under through no fault of their own. As a community we have pulled together to bring our plight to the attention of the government and the media under a number of initiatives. Now, in the lead up to Christmas, we have no other choice but to increase our efforts to support our own.”
Eventwell Pledge is the brainchild of Kiwanuka and Helen Moon, CEO and founder EventWell, the mental health and wellbeing voice of the event industry. It exists to offer people the opportunity to gift a pledge or receive a pledge. It is open to any event professional experiencing personal and financial hardship in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Kiwanuka continues “EventWell Pledge does what we as an industry do best – it brings our people together. It is there for any of our community that need it – to show that we see our people for who they are rather than just another number. One of the best things to come out of this whole situation has been to see how we have really pulled together – it’s not just lip service, this is real quantifiable help exactly where it is needed.”
Whether financial, mental or time, EventWell offers equality and opportunity for all via an accessible platform of participation and support – compassion and understanding with no questions asked. With 80 pledges to date and more than 65% of them redeemed, it is clear that, while this industry has compassion and support at its core, it is not getting the support needed from the government to survive.
“We currently have phenomenal pledges such as Christmas presents for children, Christmas Packages for families and mentoring support ready for members of our community who need them. For the people pledging it is a way of feeling a little less hopeless and powerless, for those redeeming it’s an opportunity to make Christmas as magical as it should be this year.”
If you, or your organisation can pledge a financial offering to give a child a present this Christmas, time to assist a professional in need or other financial support please go to https://eventwell.org/eventwell-pledge/