Alastair MacGregor has spent the past year helping bring about a transformation within the voluntary sector. As the Chief Operating Officer for Doit.life, a social enterprise which helps organisations and their people to support their local communities, he has seen how giving back and engaging in meaningful activities can improve mental health and workplace wellbeing.
‘Mental health and wellbeing are often used as buzzwords without any really in-depth exploration of what it means and the social cost of it,’ Alistair tells us. ‘The reality is that things we can’t see, however critical, don’t make good headlines compared to hospitals at breaking point.’
‘I fear we are really approaching a cliff-edge moment in this area. Everyone’s mental health is important, but small business managers are particularly affected among those in the private sector, and if they fold (mentally and financially), then the impacts for society are much greater. It’s in the national interest for them to be supported and that’s why much more analysis is needed. When it comes to mental health, most of all I feel for young people, and I see a generational mental health timebomb unless the socio-economic fallout for young people is dealt with effectively and immediately. The Kickstart scheme, in particular, is brilliant, and good for small businesses too, and should be kept in place for as long as needed.’
For Alastair, the pandemic has thrown up big challenges at Do IT. Reflecting on the past year, he adds: ‘The hardest moments for us came over the summer when there were cash constraints. To combat this, we focused on the emerging opportunities and were able to raise funds on the back of that with our supportive investors. On a more practical level, I also tried to use mindful activities: meditation, pilates, walking and other exercise. Getting outside as much as possible was vital. If you’re not already doing it, my advice to others would be to use the crisis to embark on a journey of self-observation. It’s always needed and the crisis has just highlighted the need for it. The benefits will then be felt over the rest of your life, and in all aspects of it.’