Duncan’s Blog – Reflections on 2020
Putting our community at the heart of everything we do: How the Fifth Sense team has developed our work during the Covid-19 Pandemic
I hope you are well and are looking forward to taking a break after what has been a very difficult year. For myself and the rest of the Fifth Sense team the Christmas break will be an opportunity to reflect on a year when we’ve been needed more than ever, and also on the progress we have made with our three year development plan, in spite of a challenging set of circumstances.
2020 was always going to be a big year for Fifth Sense. We started the first of three years supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, with our first ever staff members, Nina Bleasdale and Danny Scott, taking responsibility for all operational aspects of our work. One important part of our plans was to deliver more face-to-face activity in different parts of England, enabling more people affected by a smell or taste disorder to benefit from our work. What we weren’t expecting, of course, was a pandemic which would prevent events and get-togethers taking place whilst simultaneously creating an even greater need for our services and support.
We had to quickly adapt to a fast-changing environment, re-prioritising our work and learning to deliver services in different ways. Crucial to this has been a big team effort involving all staff and board members, our partners and advisors, and, perhaps most importantly, members of our community.
Our #LetsTalkSmellAndTaste sessions, featuring a range of guest speakers and facilitated by Tom Laughton, have given people the opportunity to share experiences and learn more about their condition in a safe, supportive environment. I’d like to say a big thanks to Tom, who has participated in many Fifth Sense activities over the years, for doing such a great job of translating our successful face-to-face events into an online format.
Our Public Ambassador programme launched earlier this year now features seven Fifth Sense Ambassadors who are dedicated to raising awareness of smell and taste disorders and supporting others. Thanks to Alison, Charlie, Dia, Katie, Frauke, Sharika and Yazz for your support, we’re really looking forward to working with you in the new year.
We launched our Smell and Taste Disorders Priority Setting Partnership with the James Lind Alliance in September, led by a steering committee of Fifth Sense members and clinicians. This will give our beneficiaries, families and healthcare professionals the opportunity to set out their priorities for future research into smell and taste disorders. Look out for further updates in the new year.
These are just a few highlights that demonstrate how we have actively involved members of the Fifth Sense community in our work. I am incredibly proud, not only of what we have achieved this year, but of the way we have done it, with kindness, integrity and respect for the needs and views of the people we serve. We have become a stronger, more resilient organisation that continues to put our values at the heart of everything we do.
A huge amount of credit is due to Nina and Danny for all their hard work this year, for learning fast and adapting quickly. I’d also like to say a big thank you to all our members, partners, advisors, donors and funders for your support of Fifth Sense and our work.
I hope you enjoy the Christmas break and that 2021 brings better times and hope for us all. This year has at least created a much greater awareness of smell and taste disorders and myself and the rest of the Fifth Sense team are already working to build on this as we develop our plans for next year and beyond.
Chair and founder