We’ve launched our new,’ Ten Minutes With,’ series to give businesses the opportunity to tell us how they’ve been doing in lockdown and what they’ve done to copy in this new world we’re living in.
We want to know how you’ve adapted and if you’ve got any advice for other businesses as we head towards a new kind of normal.
This week we’re talking to the founder, owner and lead compliant trainer of Safe Hearts Training, Sherry Diaz Thompson based in Staffordshire.
How would you describe yourself in five words?
Tell us about your business?
I launched the business in 2015 and initially we specialised in selling defibrillators but we soon grew the business and launched our own training courses, face to face, on-line and a combination of the two.
Our expert trainers offer an extensive range of courses from first aid, health and social care to health and safety and business courses, which all fully comply with the latest guidelines and legislation.
We also sell a whole range of first-aid equipment including defibrillators and Lifevac Anti-choking devices.
What did you do before launching your business?
I always feel like I have a story to tell when someone asks me this as it’s been a real journey. I was born on the twin Island nation of Trinidad and Tobago to a teenage mum and am the eldest of seven children.
Growing up I watched my grandparents who were famers, growing and selling their own produce which got me really interested in business and self-employment at the age of seven. My mum and stepdad are also self-employed caterers and I worked on and off in their business from the age of eleven until my early 20s.
My first real job though was doing door-to-door sales for a company but it wasn’t long before I decided to set up on my own and after eight months, aged only 21, I launched my first business with my best friend Dinah. It was very successful before an armed robbery (that’s another story) forced me to close.
I then went on to work as a Medical Sales Executive for a U.S. company, travelling internationally and meeting my husband before settling in the UK in 2008 to drive my career forward.
It wasn’t easy at first – I have a chronic underlying health condition called Sickle Cell Anaemia which has seen me hospitalised very regularly over the last twelve years.
After working here in Stafford as a nursing assistant and seeing personally how the NHS saves lives, I founded Safe Hearts Training. Using my business skills, my own health experience and knowledge, I wanted to build something that empowered others to learn how to manage their own health, safety and well-being through delivering expert training.
Why do you do what you do?
My own health condition has taught me how important the right education and training can be used to save lives and ultimately that’s why we do what we do.
Owning my own business enables me to help other people and serve my community in an incredibly positive way. By delivering the right training over the past five years we have helped people save lives and that’s exactly what I set out to do.
What advice do you have for companies during this time?
As staff move away from working at home to going back to the office, companies need to make sure they’re adhering to the regulations to keep people safe and to reassure them that all the correct safety measures are being taken.
It’s about ensuring a risk assessment is completed and practical steps are in place such as social distancing measures. temperature checks, staff having access to hand washing facilities, hand sanitisers and antiseptic wipes for their equipment etc.
In terms of training, Safe Hearts Training can help business adapt by first understanding their training needs and delivering the training they’ll still need using digital technology, certainly in the interim.
How are you coping in lockdown?
The last face to face training we delivered was on March 13th and three days later, I was hospitalised with suspected COVID-19. Luckily the tests came back negative but because of my underlying health conditions it was a month before I was stabilised and discharged to go home with a further 12-week self-shielding because I’m in the high risk category for COVID-19.
It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining but I am getting stronger each day. I am using this time to think about the business, my customer needs and working on bringing in exciting new plans for life after COVID.
Have you learnt anything about yourself?
COVID-19 and the current world climate, I think has confirmed to me that I’m resilliant and adaptive. Its also helped me overcome some things I was apprehensive about previously like embracing social media and getting myself in front of the camera – all things I’ve got big plans for going forward.
Are you going to do anything differently after lockdown has been lifted?
There will always be a place for face to face training, when we’re allowed to, but we’ll certainly be delivering more of our sessions digitally. I also want to embrace the social media world more as it’s always something I’ve steered away from.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve taken time out to work on my health and the business, as well as in it. Currently we are in the process of re=branding, having a new website built, become more digital and launching our virtual training sessions, podcast and social live TV. We’re aiming to relaunch and re-open our first face to face training sessions again this September. As soon as its safe for me to fly and the COVID situation changes, I want to go on a nice relaxing holiday and to visit my family in the Caribbean too!
And finally, if you didn’t own Safe Hearts Training what would your dream job have been?
Originally, I wanted to be a doctor or lawyer but as I got older, I wanted to travel the world, meet new people and run my own business. I’m really pleased that by seeing the work ethic of my family as a child, it spurred me on to work hard enough to achieve my dreams.
If you’d like to be one of our, ‘Ten Minutes With,’ interviewees please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll grab a cuppa over Zoom.