2021 has definitely been a year of significant global and personal challenges.
I know it has been a difficult period for many people, and I sincerely hope 2022 offers more light for all who have experienced darkness.
Reflecting on what the past 12 months have meant personally has helped me see how far I’ve come and how fortunate I have been despite some hurdles.
Here’s a few things I achieved this year. I am immensely grateful to everyone who has supported me in helping me:
- I decided to become a freelance media consultant, stepping down from my full-time job as the director of the Ethical Journalism Network in April. It wasn’t an easy decision, especially since I am the family’s main earner, but it was something I’d been considering for a while.
- My move to become a consultant allowed me to focus on the things and people I love. It allowed me to spend more time with my family and also write more. It also enabled me to prioritise my mental health and wellbeing. Although the past eight months haven’t always been easy, I feel really fortunate to have been able to do this.
- I established and strengthened relationships with a number of major news and media clients, sharing my international expertise in journalism safety and mental health. This allowed me to see that my experience is valuable and necessary, while the validation I have received through the relationships I have built has been wonderful.
- I facilitated several significant conversations for newsrooms around the world, helping to open up conversations around mental health for media professionals, and journalism safety. This work was well received and some of the most rewarding I did this year. By being able to share something of my own lived experiences and combine this with my professional expertise, I can hold space for others, offer solutions and insights, and crucially help other people feel less isolated.
- I organised and moderated regular cross-industry conversations around mental health, wellbeing, empathetic leadership, and dealing with online harm.
- I launched Headlines Network with my colleague John Crowley, as a community to promote more open conversations around mental health in the news media. With the support of the Google News Initiative and extraordinary guest speakers, we delivered free mental health workshops to more than 120 journalists in the UK news media. We have exciting plans to develop our work in the UK and internationally in 2022.
- I wrote and contributed to several journalism, media expertise and opinion pieces for outlets including Poynter, The Independent, Fortune Magazine, Press Gazette and Journalism.co.uk.
- I ran Personal Bests in the marathon (3.41.49), 10k (44.49) and 5k (21.03) distances, and benefitted massively from being coached by the brilliant Iain Morshead and Bruce Fordyce, through Fordyce Fusion.
- Since the start of this year, I have run 2,720k, and I have run every day so far in December (250k to date).
- My memoir, ‘Aftershocks’ was shortlisted for the Mslexia life-writing award, making the final twelve. I was totally over the moon to receive this news, and am currently searching for an agent to represent my work.
- I had nine pieces of non-fiction and fiction writing published, and one of my stories translated into Spanish.
- Two of my creative non-fiction pieces were nominated for Best of the Net.
- I am currently working on the second draft of my novel.
- I delivered several online writing workshops, including for the Flash Fiction Festival and Northern Writers’ Studio, as well as a major international news organisation.
- My debut collection of writing, ‘The Thin Line Between Everything and Nothing’ was published by Reflex Fiction.
- It was the first time in my memory that I didn’t travel internationally, but I found peace and meaning much closer to home, loving (most of) my first full year living back in Yorkshire. For me, at the end of 2021, I feel fortunate for my health and for a year in which I feel I have finally really connected with myself.