New network SaddleUp! aims to help millions of professionals who have lost their jobs due to the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world, turning the way we live, socialise and work on its head. The media, marketing and creative sector has been among the hardest hit.
In the wake of over three million job losses, lockdown 2.0, and the onslaught of recession, the firm’s managing director, David Woollcott, is determined to help business professionals facing redundancy get back on their feet, or ‘saddle up’.
Big brands SaddleUp!
With the help of high-level UK volunteers from an array of industries including leading companies such as BMW, Barclays, Fisher & Paykel, Vodafone, Foyne Jones, Haier, Caesarstone and Aldi (supporting both in front and behind the scenes), David wants to change the way that redundancy is viewed by offering support from those in senior positions.
SaddleUp! aims to link people who have recently been made redundant with peers and leaders from similar organisations to help them ‘saddle up’ and get back into the working world. While it might be prudent to consult a solicitor if you get made redundant so that your rights are protected and you get what you deserve, uncertain times such as the pandemic affect thousands of people, and efforts like SaddleUp! which can be very helpful are the need of the hour.
Some of the ‘saddlers’ – including Woollcott himself – have experienced redundancy from both sides of the fence allowing them to offer an extra layer of understanding and empathy.
“Redundancy is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through both professionally and personally.
“SaddleUp! is born from an urgent and immediate need to restore employees’ worth and help them refocus so they are ready to re-enter the jobs market in a positive frame of mind,” explained Woollcott.
“Right now, we are experiencing a sharp period of change – but there is opportunity out there.”
After hearing the news of how many people were facing redundancy in his own industry in July this year, David felt compelled to post on LinkedIn to offer anyone in his 11,000-strong network an opportunity to talk.
“Having experienced redundancy first-hand, I wanted to offer support to someone going through the same thing in the hope I could restore some focus and self-worth. Even if they just needed to vent, it would be time well spent.”
LinkedIn post that went viral
Overnight the LinkedIn post received 70,000+ views, countless shares from all over the world, and 70 requests for a 20-minute call.
Within two months Woollcott himself had completed more than 50 calls with would-be strangers to support them through this challenging time, with the newly forming team of volunteers answering many more.
One caller speaks of their experience of SaddleUp!: “I found speaking with David extremely useful, it was wonderful to hear about his experience and his thoughts on the state of the market.
“I am looking forward to the next 12 months and hoping that it will be a fun challenge for me.”
Through the high-level, executive volunteer-based service, those facing redundancy can request a peer to peer, human to human call.
The purpose of the call is to share experiences and insights, and display empathy with the hope that the person calling will feel empowered to ‘saddle up’ and get back into the jobs market with confidence.
They also aim to tackle the mental health repercussions of redundancy and address the damage to self-esteem to allow a bounce back from the negative.
Speaking about the conception of SaddleUp! David Woollcott explained, “Our vision is to reduce the personal and psychological impacts of redundancy.
“By understanding their circumstances, giving them hope, and by encouraging meaningful, forward-facing steps we hope to change the way that people view redundancy.
“Career goals and progression shouldn’t end because of redundancy, there is still time and energy to invest in people and we shouldn’t cast them to the side.”
David’s vision for Saddle Up! goes beyond just the initial point of contact offered. He aims to create longstanding employment reform in which a redundancy process is outlined before employment, opening a wider conversation around redundancy to creating more decisive action from every business and civic leader across the country.
Currently, funding for the project as a long-term opportunity is being considered as well as looking in to building the team even more to develop a future strategy.
There is no shortage of experts and industry and civic leaders wanting to get involved and David hopes that SaddleUp! will be a driving force for redundancy reform in the UK.
Whilst SaddleUp! already has some impressive and experienced Saddlers on board (both in front and supporting behind the scenes) who are dedicating at least two hours a week, Woollcott still hopes to inspire other leaders across the industry to get involved.
SaddleUp! has now completed almost 300 calls, with those who have been made redundant. These calls are led by experienced industry peers, offering time, tips, and shared experiences as they travel through their career paths.
The firm said its volunteers, known as ‘Saddlers’, come from a variety of professional backgrounds including the advertising, media and marketing sectors.