In our latest roundup, the former head of the Civil Service Lord O’Donnell has criticised the government for its lack of leadership throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Meanwhile, private housebuilder Beal Homes has recruited a new landscape design expert to head up a pioneering new service, and the founder of kefir business Chucking Goat celebrates becoming a Number One bestselling author on Amazon. Elsewhere, a prominent individual with Asperger’s Syndrome offers his advice on maintaining a positive attitude through lockdown to help others who are affected by the condition.
Ex-civil service head criticises government
Speaking at the annual Institute for Fiscal Studies lecture this week, the former chief of the UK Civil Service Lord O’Donnell has attacked the government for having “over-promised and under-delivered” in its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
His words came just days after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a raft of new restrictions in an effort to crackdown on rising cases of the virus.
Asking why the UK has fallen so far short in handling the crisis, he added that “strategy” and “leadership” have lacked throughout.
Lord O’Donnell said: “In 2019, we were ranked second in the world for pandemic preparedness by the Global Health Security Index. A litany of new rules and a steady stream of leaks reflects a government struggling to emerge from firefighting mode.
“Without a clear strategy, strong leadership and the use of good evidence from a range of human sciences, there is a risk that our efforts to emerge from this pandemic will be protracted and extremely costly.”
The crossbench peer said that government strategy was failing because it consistently defers to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies [SAGE], which is predominantly comprised of medical scientists.
He added: “However, the key to controlling the virus is changing people’s behaviours. The government’s incorporation of expertise from behavioural and other human sciences has been woeful. The weak ‘stay alert’ campaign is an example of this. When the government says it ‘follows the science’, this really means that it follows the medical sciences, which has given it a one-sided perspective and led to some questionable policy decisions.”
Lord O’Donnell, who served as Civil Service chief under three prime ministers, accused Boris Johnson of using “political capital” to keep his senior adviser Dominic Cummings in post after he had broken lockdown rules.
Beal Homes makes new appointment
Regional housebuilder Beal Homes has appointed a new landscape design expert as it looks to launch a unique new service to help buyers maximise use of their outdoor space.
Sam Theakstone has been hired to take up the new role of interior and landscape designer and will oversee the pioneering service.
Theakstone said: “We want to show buyers how they can use their outdoor space as, effectively, another room. We don’t see it as a garden – you can create structure, seating, entertainment areas, or ‘grow your own’ spaces.
“During lockdown people have come to enjoy their outdoor spaces more than ever and that’s been one positive to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic. This new service enables buyers to see and realise the potential of their outdoor space, with our support.
“If customers aren’t armed with the ideas and knowledge to realise the potential of their outdoor and indoor space, or don’t have the time to do it themselves, we can guide their choices and make it a reality for them.”
Theakstone has experience designing interiors for care homes, restaurants and bars, and has entered three set designs into the prestigious Grand Designs Live competition, scooping the Public Award in her first year for a dining room set up to mark the 50th birthday of Gardener’s World in the year 2017.
She is currently studying for a garden design diploma with the National Design Academy, and has previously worked for Beal Homes as a pre-selections co-ordinator.
Theakstone added: “I’m really excited about this service because it’s a brand new role for me, while also supporting the existing team, and it’s something we can continually develop.”
Chuckling Goat boss becomes an Amazon icon
Shann Nix Jones, the founder of award-winning kefir business Chucking Goat, has become a Number One Best-Selling Author on Amazon, after the release of her book, ‘How to Set up a Business on Your Kitchen Table’.
The book, detailing Nix Jones’ experience of setting up her own business is a Bible for aspiring entrepreneurs and an insightful and realistic guide for young businesswomen.
The Chucking Goat business was born out of Nix Jones’ determination to cure her son’s eczema and her husband’s life-threatening bout of MRSA. Six years after the kefir business was established from her kitchen table in Wales, Nix Jones’ company now turns over £3.4 million per year.
Nix Jones said: “How to Start a Business on Your Kitchen Table isn’t just about business, it’s about change, and female empowerment; both highly relevant themes at the moment.
“In the book I help you work out how to develop a concept into a viable business that helps support your dream lifestyle. I also teach you how to tap into your hormonal cyclical superpowers so you can do business in an intuitive way while leaning into your emotions.”
Kent Autistic Trust and Alex Manners
The article, titled 'How I evolved during the lockdown to become a mentally stronger person', aims to provide inspiration to individuals with Asperger’s and conditions on the autism spectrum during a tempestuous period for mental health and wellbeing as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on.
Manners said: “People with Asperger’s find it very hard to accept change and many believe that it is nearly impossible for us to change our mindset. However, that is exactly what I have done during the lockdown. I have evolved to become more spontaneous, less rigid with my plans and as a result much happier. I wish I had been able to do this when I was younger as I missed out on a lot of great opportunities”.
The full article can be read here.