Mark Simms

CEO, P3 Charity Group

What was a typical work day like before the corona crisis?
Busy, doing the normal stuff. But we were particularly busy as we’ve been doing a lot of work around increasing the supply of homes for people who are homeless and so there has been lots of travel, to and from London, raising investment and across the country visiting our services.

When the outbreak started, what was your initial reaction?
Bloody hell – we need a plan! We had started formulating a “plan” of sorts in January – building on the ones that we had done previously for Swine Flu and SARS. We are a much bigger organisation now with many more moving parts. So we planned to protect our people and the people we support – starting really simply using Maslows hierarchy focusing on people and their needs. Simple, swift solutions – and communicating constantly with our people.

What impact did this have on your day job and how did you adapt?
This is my day job, come what may – keeping the organisation running, keeping the doors open and making sure that we are there for the people who need us.e are just delivering differently. Overnight we have transformed the way we deliver our services, to make sure we can still deliver our services. Nothing is closed, we have furloughed about 10% of our workforce but these are slowly returning to work.

What are the big challenges you have faced / are facing as the pandemic continues?
This might seem odd to say, but we planned and mostly the plan has gone as we expected, the big challenges are making sure our people have everything that they need – not just PPE but food for people and access to hotels for people who had no where to live. We launched two new services that support thousands of people on 1st April – both went amazingly well but required an enormous effort from our teams to make sure that they did open on time. The continuation of the pandemic means that some of our plans for this year like – getting 200 more homes on line might be a little bit delayed.

How have you kept going through the tough times?
I work alongside hundreds of brilliant people, they have risen to this challenge, adapted, bent over backwards and never lost focus of what’s important.

What acts of kindness have you seen or shown that have made you smile recently?
The kindness of the many tiny organisations we work alongside – like Bay 20 in North Kensington … doing an amazing job supporting their community.

What has this crisis taught you – both professionally and on a personal level?
Professionally – some people leading organisations shouldn’t be… Personally – I might actually have the room for another dog.

How are you trying to stay happy and healthy?
I’m shielded so going out is a no-no, but I’ve got a big garden and three crazy dogs who give me hours of fun and entertainment.

To find out more about what P3 are doing, visit their website or check them out on Twitter.