Married 25 years today

bigChange married 25 years

It’s a strange feeling, celebrating milestones under lockdown. 25 years ago today, I married my wonderful wife Mandy.

What’s also strange is that I’m not at all sad that things have worked out this way. If the last few months under lockdown have taught me anything, it is to appreciate the little things – and that family is extraordinarily precious.

If you would have told me, at the start of the year, that I would be spending four months inside my home with my wife 24/7, and living with my four children for the first time since they were all at school, I would have laughed at you. “I need to travel to see customers,” the old me would have said. “There will be so many arguments. We’ll tear the house apart.”

The reality has been totally different.

I have loved every minute.

This pandemic has had a devastating impact on so many people, families and organisations. It’s a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. Yet that has only made me feel more grateful, more blessed for the people I love.

I love our new life. I work in the lounge and Mandy is next door in the dining room. We pop in and out, and always sit down to have tea together – usually with the kids too. Before lockdown, I can’t remember the last time I made it home in time for the evening meal. I was always working till 7 or 8 o’clock.

I used to travel constantly, hopping on trains and planes to visit customers. Now, when I think of all that unproductive time spent travelling, and the carbon footprint, I shudder.

Being at home has been a revelation. I start work earlier but I have the flexibility to take a coffee break with Mandy and finish work in time to relax in the evening. Meetings over Teams are structured and to the point. Everything you lose in banter and small talk you gain in productivity.

Sometimes, my son Joseph brings his Playstation into my “office”. He’s got headphones in, so the noise doesn’t disturb me, and I love having him around all day.

Mandy and I have always made a great team, both at home and at the office – she worked with me at my last business, Masternaut, too. But this experience has only increased my admiration for her, and all she does.

Back when I was spending long hours at the office, and she was at home juggling lead generation for the business alongside looking after the kids, it was easy to miss how hard she works, and take her talent and energy for granted. Now, I see all that she does, and the amount she packs into her day. We’re both workaholics but when we work side-by-side, it never feels like work.

She is so perceptive, a great listener, and remembers all the details that I forget! I’m a better businessman with Mandy around.

So, yes, I’m celebrating our 25th anniversary under lockdown. But in many ways, this is a gift; the best anniversary present I could wish for.

This blog is dedicated to you Amanda Port, an incredible wife and mother, and a vital member of the team at BigChange. Happy anniversary. I love you.

My son Joseph has started his own small business

BigChange Joseph Port Living Potential

Joseph Port’s First Blog

In this guest post, Joseph Port explains why he launched his own business – selling clothes to raise money for charity. 

A lot of things make me happy in life. I’m a big Leeds United fan. My family mean the world to me. I’m crazy about videogames and I love watching YouTube Bloggers. I have learning difficulties but I have never let them hold me back and I live life to the fullest.

But during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was a little harder to find reasons to smile. Unfortunately, because of my health, I was shielded to protect me from the coronavirus.

This meant that I could no longer continue working at Living Potential Care Farm, an amazing place where people with disabilities can connect with nature.

My work there was always varied and I learned something new every day.

I loved feeding the animals, boxing up eggs to sell at the shop, and picking apples to make apple juice.

My job on the farm gave me structure, and made me feel that I was making a contribution to society. I made many wonderful friends there, and the job also helped me to keep fit!

Raising money for charity

I know that many people are struggling with being forced to stay home.

While I found it wonderful (okay, occasionally annoying too!) to have so much time with the family, I don’t like feeling aimless.

So I have come up with an idea that will both help to give me direction, and benefit Living Potential, an organisation that has done so much for those of us with disabilities. I’m launching a new venture, creating and selling a range of high quality branded Living Potential t-shirts.

This will be a joint venture and I will receive £5 for every t-shirt sold. The rest of the money will go to Living Potential, helping to support existing projects and create more activities – demand for its services is growing rapidly at this time.

I believe that it is so important for those of us with learning disabilities to be able to make our own living. Selling is one of my strengths because I am a good communicator and I love meeting people.

I want to be independent and keep learning and honing my business skills. This is really important to my sense of self worth.

I’m so happy to be able to create a new business with a purpose, which raises awareness of the farm and proves that people with learning disabilities have drive and ambition.

I hope you’ll consider buying a t-shirt – the Living Potential t-shirts are available here.

Thanks for reading.