FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS: Bo Cook Landscape & Garden Design

Bo Cook has been designing gardens in and around East Sussex for over a decade. She is a single mother of two children – one 21 and one seven. With the school closings, Bo is now responsible for the education of her youngest child, which has an effect on her workload.

We chat with Bo Cook to see how she’s doing. This interview, conducted Monday afternoon, followed her first morning home schooling session, but she sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

Along with many others in the UK in a variety of industries, Bo has recently undergone a lifestyle change. The announcement of school closures means Bo, a single mother, will not be able to send her seven-year-old daughter to school. This week is therefore devoted to adjustment. “I’ll try to set up the routine,” she explains. “What I was trying to do was do home schooling this morning and then use this afternoon to do some work. What I have already found out is that on day one it won’t work unless she turns on the TV or something. She will have to sit for three hours in front of the television or I will be constantly interrupted. It’s so hard to do a job if you don’t have a block of time to do it. I think I might have gone mad by the end of this period!

The fact that Bo has to devote her regular work time to teaching her daughter – one of the side effects of the coronavirus pandemic around the world – is not the only hurdle she has had to overcome since setting up. in place of social distancing measures. Its subcontractors are unable to work due to their own childcare issues.

The way she deals with clients must also change. “I saw a client on Saturday, but I was in my car. I left something with them, they were just outside, ”she says. Any other client meeting that I organize – if in fact I am having one – will be outside and be done at least two meters away, without exchanging anything: no cup of tea or whatever. it would be. If I drop something I’m going to have to leave it there and it’s up to them if they want to quarantine it for a period like my mom did with her chocolates yesterday!

READ MORE: FIGHTING CORONAVIRUS: TONY BENGER LANDSCAPING

Bo Cook also uses email, social apps like Whatsapp, and communication tools like Zoom to keep going.

She also relies on the help of her eldest daughter when needed. “I have another 21-year-old daughter,” says Bo. “She is currently at home writing her thesis, which is why I am making sacrifices right now. She also spends time with her father, but when she is there, if I have to go out, I can leave my youngest with her. Otherwise, she will have to come with me.

There was also an impact on inbound labor. “I had two potentials that were carried over and I have not had any further inquiries. But I won’t be able to handle a full workload anyway.

“I am self-employed, I have to keep the house running. I just applied for mortgage leave for three months. If I get that, it’ll take the pressure off. But my income is going to go down because I can’t get the job done that quickly and there’s no new job coming up. no work at the end. I would have erased what I have, so I’m going to have to start from scratch at the other end.

It is a difficult time for the self-employed. As things work out for Bo, she will rely on other talents to improve her income. “I teach Vectorworks, so I’m going to promote it,” she explains. “If there are other designers, like me, whose work has slowed down, this is a good opportunity. “

Again, like many, she feels like she is currently fighting the fires, but she remains positive. “My local MP sent me a message yesterday telling me to keep an eye out because hopefully an announcement regarding self-employed workers will come in this week,” she said. “In the meantime, you have to do everything you can to cut your expenses, get that mortgage vacation. If you want to get a loan – which I personally don’t want to do because at the end of this process I don’t want to fight anything else – then there are interest-free options that they extended for 12 months. . “

For now, Bo is relying on a routine, albeit a much stricter one than she expected, and she has some great advice for those in a similar position. She says, “We just have to deal with this as best we can, that’s all. Keep everyone in the know. Customers are going to be okay with this, they just need to know. If you said a job is going to be done in three weeks and it won’t happen in that time, we just have to tell them. Hope everyone will be ok with this. “

With such a seismic shift in the norm, Bo Cook shows that there is a way to juggle her roles as a teacher and a garden designer – but you have to be prepared to ask for help, whether it’s members of the family, clients or government.

To find out what you are entitled to financially, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Bo Cook

Tomorrow we will hear from Hortus Loci, a supplier of plants in Hampshire.

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