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Build your own life jacket

“You need a life jacket to stay afloat. Think of it as a life jacket with pockets, what do you need to pull out when you begin to feel under pressure?” - Ali

Footwork’s first ‘kick-off coffee’ with our network of 2022 People & Place Fund recipients, in February, illustrated the wonderful range of knowledge each social innovator brings with them and is so willing to share. They came to the conclusion that an innovator-led format for subsequent network meet-ups would be most valuable: creating the space to share and expand on their experiences; and to suggest tips and tricks they have picked up along the way as founders. We in turn want to share some of their ideas with you.


Our first innovator-led meeting came from Armley Action Team’s Ali and Louise, who shared their experiences on managing pressure and preventing burnout. The wellbeing of founders is a huge problem that is often overlooked and the aim of this workshop was for the network to learn ways of coping with the pressures they face, so they can recognise the warning signs and better look after their wellbeing while tackling issues within their communities.


Ali and Louise encouraged the cohort in building their own ‘life jackets’, helping them to recognise their individual vulnerabilities and what they need to do when at risk of burnout. Frankly, we all need a life jacket to help stay afloat, and being able to navigate rough waters is incremental in protecting our wellbeing.


We hope the People & Place cohort will act as a peer support network both now and in the future – a place where social innovators facing similar challenges can come together for help and advice.


Read on to find out how to build your own life jacket, courtesy of Ali and Louise.



Step 1: Recognise your trigger points.

There isn’t always a huge problem or event that tips us over the edge into burnout. Sometimes these things can be small inconveniences that slowly begin to build up, taking a toll on our ability to manage pressure. Trigger points vary from person to person and can be both personal and work related. Some examples include:

  • Stress from writing funding bids

  • Pressure at home and/or at work

  • Difficult staffing situations


Step 2: Understand the impact of pressure

This step is all about understanding the negative impact pressure can have on our ability to work. When feeling under pressure, what changes do you notice in yourself?

  • Working excessive hours and not getting enough sleep

  • Getting angry with people over little things

  • Neglecting relationships both professional and personal


Step 3: How to better respond to pressure (ie. your life jacket)

Now that you recognise what your trigger points are and the symptoms you experience as a result, think about what things you need in your toolkit to be able to combat this? Think about what steps you need to take to stop yourself from falling into burnout.

  • Stop and take time out

  • Spend time with friends and family

  • Journal


A big thank you to Ali and Louise. Take at look at the work they are doing in Armley Town Street here.

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