Friday, 4 September 2009

The big move

This short four-day week seems very long and I can’t say I am sorry to see the end of it.

We have been in our current offices for ten years and have just signed a new lease and taken a bit more space. We had to refurbish and for various reasons beyond our control the dates for this slipped later in the year that we would have liked. Imagine a supermarket doing major refurbishment a few weeks before Christmas – that’s us, moving three weeks before our biggest month of the year – October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).

On Friday last week everyone packed up ready for a move over the weekend and by lunch-time on Tuesday everything was pretty much unpacked and, apart from some technical hitches, up and running. Colleagues have worked very hard (especially the IT team who worked over the bank holiday) and been very patient. We tried our best to minimise any impact on our supporters and I hope that we have not inconvenienced them too much.

As many colleagues as we could cram in, moved into the lovely new part of the offices on the second floor and eight of us squashed into a small section of the office on the third floor while the rest of the floor was stripped. The attached photo is a view from my desk.

I have had a luxury of my own office for a few years now – glass walls because I can’t bear not being able to see what is going on! It is so nice though to be back in a general office and sharing a desk pod with four colleagues. I am not sure that they appreciate my ability to talk about one thing and do another, the sighs of relief are almost audible when they see me pack up to go to an external meeting.

There has been a sense of déjà vu – reminiscent of our offices before we moved ten years ago. There were about ten of us then and we worked on odd bits of donated furniture in a decrepit office which we rented on a three month rolling lease as the building was due for demolition. There was very limited email (!) and we certainly didn’t use it internally – we could all talk to each other. Now everyone seems to email rather than talking.....

Going back even further than that, in our first BCAM we bought pink ribbon and safety pins from a well known department store and made our own pink ribbons – we now distribute hundreds of thousands every year. (Small historical note: in 1993 Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estee Lauder Companies, established the Pink Ribbon as the symbol of BCAM). I am sorry to say that it has become somewhat exploited since then, most recently by bogus charity clothing collectors, but still acts as a strong visual reminder.

Breast Cancer Campaign has come a long way since then and thankfully so has the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Women diagnosed with the disease today have a far better chance of survival and also a better quality of life as treatments have improved and we’re a step closer to beating breast cancer. However – everything is relative and while all the treatments on offer today are improved – surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy – and preferable to the consequences of not receiving treatment – they are still traumatic and some have long term negative health consequences. They also fail the 12,000 women who die each year.

So, as we approach Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer’s report card reads “some improvements but must do better”.

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