Behind the scenes in lockdown

The Alcohol Change UK team | April 2020 | 16 minutes

If you've ever wondered about the team at Alcohol Change UK, now's your chance to get to know us as we take you behind the scenes as we work from home during lockdown.

Adam

Fundraising and Engagement Officer

Who are you in lockdown with?

My partner Lizzie and our dog Leo.

Leo
Leo as a puppy

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

We've been going for a run every day to try and look after ourselves, mentally and physically. We tried exercising in the garden but Leo wants to join in, making it a lot harder!

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

I've discovered the joy and randomness of the video-calling Houseparty app, but there's a bit of a drinking theme to these online get togethers! I found it much easier to resist the temptation not being in the room with people drinking. Normally I would join in, especially if out at a bar.

Otherwise I don't normally drink a lot at home - I try not to buy it. If it's there I'm tempted to drink it. It's working really well at the moment, especially because I'm not finding the thought of popping to the shops that enticing.

Anything you want to share?

One of my favourite comedians is Milton Jones. His jokes make me feel better straight away:

"My wife...well...it's difficult to say what she does. You see, she sells seashells on the seashore."

"Years ago I used to supply Filofaxes for the mafia. I was involved in very organised crime."

Andrew

Director for Alcohol Change in Wales

Who are you in lockdown with?

I am at home with my family.

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

We’re all trying to stick to a bit of a routine, have regular meals, and make sure the chores are fairly shared out. So far, it’s working. Compared to a lot of people, we’re in a very fortunate situation. A group of us from local churches are in the middle of trying to work out (via Whatsapp) how to keep on providing meals for the homeless on Sunday nights without adding to the spread of the virus. Thinking about other people’s needs has been the best distraction of all.

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

My simplest rule of thumb is: don’t stock up. If I’ve got it in the house, I’ll probably drink it. So I’m trying just to get a few bottles of beer when I do my weekly shop, and leave it at that.

Anything you want to share?

The first day out I’m going on when all this is over is Chepstow Races, my local racecourse for nearly twenty years, and one of Britain’s prettiest.

Danielle

Head of Fundraising and Engagement

Who are you in lockdown with?

Alvin the cat, Dexter the dog, my four sons, and my eldest son’s girlfriend.

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

Lots of home schooling (including PE with Joe), board games, gardening, walking the dog and running. Far too much coffee, and enough snacks to feed a small army.

PE with Joe
Two of Danielle's sons doing PE with Joe

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

I don't really drink much at home anyway, but we have made sure we are not 'stocking up' and just drinking what we might usually have at home.

Anything you want to share?

I've been admiring my friend who has been doing a run streak – she has run at least 5km every day for 749 days! All of these restrictions have meant that I have inadvertently started my own runstreak – I’m currently on day seven. I wonder if I'll be able to keep it up after this is all over...

Erynn

Communications Assistant

Who are you in lockdown with?

My partner and all of my housemate's and my plants (11 of the little guys in total).

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

I've been chatting to friends a fair amount, and I've rediscovered my love of the Sims. Most mornings I make a little time to go outside - I'm very lucky to have a garden. My partner and I also love having a dance around the kitchen, living room, or any other room to be honest!

I'm finding cooking very relaxing. I'm really enjoying improvising meals with what we have, and thinking about the tastiest way to make sure we get our five a day. It's very easy to neglect eating well in stressful situations, so I'm trying to enforce relatively healthy eating and snacking on both of us! That's not to say we won't devour a family-sized bag of crisps in a single sitting, but we have to let ourselves have treats, too.

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control? (If you're alcohol-free, all the better - you're an expert!)

Once work is done, I find it helpful to go and do something else immediately. I get up and stretch, and have a short walk around the flat. By the time I then sit down to do something else, any thoughts I might have had about drinking have faded.

I’ve also been drinking lots of water throughout the day to keep hydrated. That way I’m not tempted to quench any thirst with alcohol (which is contradictory anyway). I like to serve it in the nicest glass I have to really make it feel like a treat - we deserve to have nice things, especially now!

Anything you want to share?

Fun fact: One of my parents' dogs, Eli, and their cat, Mowgli, are absolute best friends. They often snooze together in Eli's bed, and hang out together in the garden.

Erynn pets
Eli and Mowgli: best friends

Jenni

Office Manager and Executive Assistant

Who are you in lockdown with?

My partner and our lovely array of plants.

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

Being away from my family has been pretty tough, so we have been keeping in touch on Houseparty at least once a day. We've not yet explored the full offering of games on there but we've got plenty of time! Offline, I'm completing a puzzle of Padstow Harbour, reading The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two, by Philip Pullman and watching Elementary (only one episode to go!).

We're also lucky enough to have a little balcony on our flat, so we have been taking tea breaks out there and watching boats go by on the Thames. A little police boat put on a lovely show the other morning – I was whistling the tune to 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' for the rest of the day.

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

It can be easy to slip in to unhealthy habits, especially if it seems that everyone else is doing just that. I have found that having a ginger ale or Jeffrey's Tonic Syrup (original) with soda water curbs any craving for something stronger. We’ve also set ourselves a rule on specific days of the week.

And finally…

A wedding themed fact, as I am also spending time planning my wedding: Maria Paraskeva, a woman from Cyprus, got married in August 2018, and wore the longest veil in recorded history. It stretched 22,843 feet and 2.11 inches, or as long as 63.5 football fields. I wonder how many bridesmaids it took to help carry that?!

Julie

Senior Communications Manager

Julie
Julie's home-working set up, complete with vital cup of tea

Who are you in lockdown with?

My husband and two daughters aged 18 and 14.​

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?​

Our new normal is very different to our old. We’re all starting the day with some form of exercise such as running, yoga on YouTube, or walking – we’re even considering starting a Zumba class. I’m sure that will provide some laughs!​ We’re all thinking of ways to do something positive each day whether that be reading, painting, making some new playlists for our runs, watching some great shows on Netflix or dusting down the Wii.​ Keeping in touch with friends and family has become something special that we all enjoy. It’s fantastic being able to FaceTime my mum for the first time ever!

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?​

I got out of the habit of having a drink for the sake of it some time ago as I realised I wasn’t enjoying waking up in the morning feeling sluggish. So now I only have a drink when I really fancy it and know I’m going to enjoy it, and when I do drink, I keep it to one or two.

Anything you want to share?

A quote to give some inspiration:

‘You suppose you are the trouble​
But you are the cure​
You suppose that you are the lock on the door​
But you are the key that opens it.’​

Rumi

Lucy

Director of Policy and Research

Lucy
"The butler is a family, er, heirloom I guess!" Sure Lucy, sure

Who are you in lockdown with?

My husband who's also working from home, our cat Bellamy and our Bassett Hound Mabel.

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

The pets are hugely important. As well as forcing me out of bed in the morning (she needs to be let out for her wee on time!), Mabel’s daily walk is my exercise, my nature fix and my sunshine for the day. Rob and I have been doing some gentle DIY, which is satisfying, and we've been doing some online gaming and quizzing with friends. Every windowsill is covered with seedlings too (you can see some tomatoes and strawberries in the photo). I inherited the bureau I’m working on from my late grandfather, so it makes me think of him every day.

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

It feels like Dry January was only just yesterday and I've kept up many of the habits I got into then. I found lots of alcohol substitutes I enjoy and I still use our Try Dry app every day. Knowing that I'm keeping a close eye on what I drink, and when, helps me feel in control and to stick to my intentions.

Anything you want to share?

I'm such a dedicated researcher that I'm keeping a detailed log of all my baby plants - measurements, leaf counts etc - and am subjecting them to varying conditions to see what works best! Time will tell. I've stopped short of naming them all, although never say never.

Maddy

Head of Communications

IMG 1227
It's all got a bit 'Day of the Triffids' in Maddy's flat

Who are you in lockdown with?

My partner (and our imaginary, longed-for cat, Kirk).

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

The key thing for me has been planning something to look forward to every day, even if it's as simple as watching an episode of something I really like on Netflix (Schitt's Creek is the current favourite). I'm spending lots of time chatting with family and friends on a dizzying variety of apps and finding things to do together, like quizzes, watching things at the same time and a virtual book club. I'm attempting some more productive ways to have fun, like drawing and sewing, but I think it's ok to cut ourselves some slack at the moment!

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

Working from home is tricky - it doesn't feel like there's a clear line between work and home, and I can imagine using alcohol as a way to draw that line. Instead my partner and I have been setting a firm end time for work and going for our daily walk then to give some separation and relax. We’re keeping drinking for the weekend.

Anything you want to share?

Andrew and I have been sharing goat updates for the last few days. What, you didn't know about the famous lockdown goats of Llandudno?

Mark

Senior Policy and Research Manager

Mark
Mark's very professional desk arrangement

Who are you in lockdown with?

My partner (and a quarter of the world, according to this report).

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?

I have learned that following a routine is the best way to keep productive working from home – things like making sure the start and end of the day, lunch breaks and snack breaks all still happen at around the same time as they would if I was working at the office. Our home exercise bike has come in handy to mimic part of the daily commute, too.

Many of the evenings have been spent exploring the back reaches of the pantry cupboard. This has led to a few pleasing discoveries: mustard tastes much better if you cook it (I can heartily recommend Jack Monroe’s saag aloo using mustard and tinned potatoes) and peanut butter is, well, really nice (who knew?!). I’ve still got no idea what to do with fenugreek though…

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?

No alcohol during the day has always been a personal rule of mine. Also, some of the best drinks currently on the market are actually low alcohol or alcohol-free – check out some of these alcohol-free beers as an enjoyable alternative to alcohol.

Anything you want to share?

One of my favourite jokes of the past few years is from Richard Stott: “Someone stole my antidepressants. Whoever they are, I hope they’re happy!”

Natasha

Research and Policy Officer

Natasha small
Is that a cardboard box Natasha?

Who are you in lockdown with?

I've been self-isolating alone since 10 March after returning from Italy. Since my 14 days ended it's been great to finally get outside, especially with all the sunshine!

What are you doing to have fun and keep your head up during lockdown?​

Aside from the usual TV-watching and reading, I've done a 1000-piece puzzle, lots of colouring, and have played an unseemly amount of Stardew Valley. It's been nice to have big group video calls with friends and I've even managed to 'go' to my choir as they are livestreaming rehearsals! As an avid-theatre goer, it's been heartening to see that a lot of theatres have been livestreaming past recordings of performances and raising money to support out-of-work performers and theatre staff. The latest to join this trend is the National Theatre - they are livestreaming every Thursday at 7pm for free, which I'm really looking forward to.

What are your tips for keeping your drinking under control?​

I don't drink very often anyway, but a surprise self-isolation has been great for not drinking as there wasn't any alcohol here in the first place! Snacking on the other hand...

Anything you want to share?

A joke: Why does the Swedish navy have barcodes on all its ships? So when they return to port they can scan-de-navy-in.