The third Monday in January has been known as “Blue Monday” ever since 2005 when Sky Travel identified it as the most depressing day of the year.
While there may be no scientific evidence to prove this, it stands to reason that people may struggle at this time of year. The end of the festive season, the cold dark evenings and wintery weather combined with increased debt and failing New Year’s resolutions all add up to leave people feeling a bit gloomy.
For the Samaritans, a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope or at risk of suicide, there is no such thing as Blue Monday. They believe that we all have our good days and our bad days, and those can be any day of the year. So instead of Blue Monday, they are running a campaign called “Brew Monday” where they are encouraging people to reach out to others for a cuppa and a catch-up.
This is exactly what members of Devon Work Hubs are doing on Monday (16 January) as they invite their communities into their work hubs and coworking spaces for coffee and conversation. Makers Mews in Ivybridge, The Kingsbridge Work Hub, The Generator Hub in Exeter and The Tribe in Totnes are all taking part in the event to ensure that the entrepreneurs, self-employed and hybrid workers in their communities can find support at this difficult time of year.
Entrepreneurs running their own business face extreme demands, high levels of uncertainty, and the increased responsibility of running and growing a business can have a detrimental effect on mental health and wellbeing.
Isolation and a lack of a social support network are issues that adversely affect entrepreneurs, the self-employed and freelancers as well as employees who now work from home. The Devon Work Hubs network wants these people to know that their doors are always open for support and that they can offer the sense of community that may be lacking.
“Having worked as both a freelancer within and director of a coworking space, I don’t need to read the abundance of statistics around how beneficial coworking spaces are to the mental health and wellbeing of those that access them,” says Liz Finnie, Director of The Generator Hub in Exeter.
“I have first-hand experience and direct confirmation from our own freelancers, start-ups and more established businesses that these benefits are real. Working from home was an exciting novelty for many people over recent years, however, when loneliness creeps in and the home chores become a constant distraction – alongside the more recent economic climate crisis that many businesses are now facing – the need for an ‘away-from-home work-base’ and/or ‘strong work-support network’ has never been more prominent.”
Jon Morgan is Business Development Director at XBASE Digital and a regular user of The Generator Hub. He says: “The main benefit for me of working in a coworking space is the community. I laugh daily and have met a wonderful group of people I now call friends.”
Liz stresses that a coworking space is often so much more than just a desk, chair and Wi-Fi. “It comprises an ecosystem of evolving business ideas and strategies, unique collaborations, networking and learning events, shared hobbies, and in the case of our coworking space, complimentary tea and coffee (with the odd Biscuit-Club thrown in).
“Like the Samaritans, we recognise the importance of member support throughout the whole year, not just on the misconstrued ‘Blue Monday’; we are therefore using #BrewMonday to remind our own community and those around us that we are here to listen anytime if they want to talk. With our regular fundraiser events like this one, what better way to give those coworking space community-giving endorphins a little boost, and with a brew in hand.”
Stacey Sheppard runs The Tribe, a coworking space for female entrepreneurs in Totnes. She opened her work hub in January 2020 after experiencing the loneliness and isolation of working for herself from home. She knew other women who felt the same way and decided to open a space where they could all come together to connect, collaborate and support one another in a way that would protect their mental health and wellbeing.
“Working for yourself and working from home is fantastic but it does get lonely after a while. If you don’t have colleagues to talk to, to share the load with or to celebrate with when things go right, you can quickly find yourself feeling low and losing motivation. It can be hard to lift yourself up again without having anybody to talk to who understands your specific situation,” says Stacey.
Nette Hargreaves is a regular user of The Tribe where she goes once a week to network with other women and work on her Human Design business. She says: “Going into my coworking space once a week is like a breath of fresh air. It’s refreshing to tap into new perspectives and inspirations and also to feel like you are not alone when things in your business go awry, and you need someone to reassure you that you and your business aren’t failing just because something didn’t go according to plan.”
Jessica Jacoby is Senior Portfolio Manager, International Foundation Relations at the Natural Resources Defence Council, an organisation head quartered in New York. She had been a regular user of The Tribe since early 2022. She says, “As a full-time employee of a U.S. based company working remotely in Devon, I choose to come into the Tribe coworking space one or two times per week in order to meet new people and reduce my stress levels. While I have welcomed the move to remote working, it can feel isolating and overwhelming to deal with the pressures of work on your own. The Tribe is a beautiful, functional, and supportive work environment. I’m thankful to have become part of its community.”
Brew Monday is taking place on Monday 16 January at The Tribe in Totnes from 10.30am-2pm and from 1.30pm-3.30pm at The Generator Hub in Exeter.
"A fabulously stylish space which smacks of contemporary creative muses, coupled with all the comforts an office should have - coffee, tea, fridge, WiFi and a working printer. Its a warm, light space in a delightful part of the village with plenty of space in the car parks and very easy to travel to."