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Live Better Blog: Mammoth May

Having spent the last two months in lockdown, its safe to say that the warm presence of a summer sun is a welcome one.

Throughout June, the government is expected to ease lockdown restrictions country-wide, so we hope the good weather stays around long enough for us to make the most of it!

Before we pack our picnics and head out the door, let’s take a look back on the month that was May – a mixture of extended government schemes, a very important week for mental health, and a few positive notes, too…

 

Extended government schemes.

 

Self-employed.

Previously, it was announced that self-employed people whose business has been affected by the pandemic can apply for grants from the government under the Self Employed Income Scheme.

These grants were designed to match support being given to furloughed workers, and were calculated as 80% of average monthly profit over a period of up to three years, with money being paid into the accounts of eligible people six days after applying.

The maximum payment was £7,500 – which was intended to cover March, April and May.

It has since been announced that a second grant of £6,570 for self-employed people (whose work has been affected by coronavirus) will become available in August.

More than two million people have applied for the initial grant of up to £7,500 so far. The deadline to apply is 13th July, and you can apply here.

Furloughed workers.

Are you one of the over 6 million UK workers currently in furlough?

On 12th May, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the furlough scheme will be extended for a further 4 months – until October!

This means that furloughed employees will continue to receive 80% of their monthly wages, up to £2,500.

About a quarter of the workforce (around 7.5 million people) are now covered by the scheme, which has cost £14 billion a month since it was introduced.

To combat the cost of the furlough scheme on taxpayers, from August, employers will be required to contribute to employee costs, such as national insurance and pension contributions, with these costs rising in September and October.

Homeowners.

Homeowners struggling financially due to coronavirus will be able to extend their mortgage payment holiday for an additional three months, without affecting their credit rating.

Deferred payments will still have to be paid back at a later date, so some will face higher bills once the ‘holiday’ comes to an end.

Since it was introduced back in March, more than 1.5 million people have delayed their mortgage payments under the scheme.

Visit your mortgage provider’s website for more information on mortgage payment breaks.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020.

 

Did you know that 63% of people think that when other people are kind it has a positive impact on their mental health? Or that 48% of UK adults think that being kind to themselves also has a positive impact on their mental health?

Research on kindness by the Mental Health Foundation has found that this is all true! And how timely, as the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week was (you guessed it)… kindness!

The last few months have been mentally stressful for many of us, so this year’s theme really inspired people across the nation to get involved – many shared their own stories of kindness throughout the week.

‘Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practice to be fully alive.’

If you’d like to read more about research on kindness and its affect on our mental health, you can download the report for free here.

 

Tips, tricks & a positive note.

 

Hair scare.

Have you experimented with cutting your own hair during lockdown? With all hairdressers closed for the time being, it is tempting to get a DIY-style trim…

Whether you’ve got long hair, short hair, curly hair, or a grown out fringe, watch this video for simple tutorials on cutting and managing your hair (safely) at home!

Working well.

Thousands of people have been sent to work from home due to the pandemic, some for the first time!

So, if you’ve been told to work remotely, what’s the best way to stay efficient and motivated?

Get dressed. Wearing respectable clothes also increases motivation to leave the house. Likewise, changing out of work clothes when you clock off for the day helps your brain to understand that the working day is over.

Establish boundaries. At the end of a working day, it’s best to switch off your computer and tidy away papers and other items. Space allowing, set aside a specific, separate area in your home where you can set yourself up – ideally with a properly adjusted desk and chair, similar to your workplace.

Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating). Working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. While you might not miss your daily commute, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.

Pick up the phone. When you’re at work, you’re more likely to engage with colleagues but when you’re working from home, you could spend the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating. Make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.

Take regular breaks. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office. Many home workers recommend the Pomodoro Technique, a method of time management which breaks your working day into 25 minute chunks. Each chunk is followed by a five minute break.

If you’ve been working from home over the last couple of months, you may have found that it’s hard to give your eyes a rest from all the screen time. So, click here for some useful tips you can use to help you ease some tension off your eyes…

 

Community spirit.

Local radio stations across the UK are bringing communities together during lockdown, giving local people valuable information, entertainment and a sense of togetherness.

Bromyard FM is one of a number of hyper-local radio stations that have begun broadcasting, often online, since the pandemic hit the UK, delivering a combination of uplifting music and entertainment, along with public health information. 

Richie Palmer says: I was tired of the endless cycle of bad news so I tried to broadcast online using my gig software… Lots of listeners started tuning in through Facebook… I have been able to throw myself into something that I love… Its also made me very happy to know that we are entertaining listeners and providing useful shows such as the Virtual School Disco and KidsStory Time.”

A lovely example of community radio creating a community!

A little thank you.

Last month, we sent all of our MoneyPlus People a little gift box stuffed full of treats and treatments, to say thank you for being great employees, and let them know how much we appreciate their hard work and dedication to our customers, especially over the last couple of months.

We’re proud to have such stellar people on our team!

Our second winner…

For all our NHS and care worker heroes on the frontline who are working hard and saving lives every day, whilst putting their own at risk, we appreciate you!

To say thank you, MoneyPlus Energy has given away a year’s supply of free energy to one frontline NHS or care worker in April and May.

Aprils winner was NHS nurse Laura Jane Butcher, and we can announce that May’s winner is… Lauren Vella!

Congratulations to our two winners – you deserve it!

 

A little extra help.

 

We know that times can get tough, and were here to support you.

Weve put together some information on what to do if you find yourself financially affected by the current coronavirus disruption, and how we may be able to help.

Click here to read our Coronavirus and Debt guide, and dont hesitate to get in touch if you need extra financial support.

Just call 0161 837 4000 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday, or email info@moneyplus.com and one of our friendly team members will get back to you as soon as possible.

 

Together, we can live better.