IPMS (UK) Easter Blog

It’s Easter weekend, but not like any other I’ve experienced. To a degree, the first week of lock-down didn’t impose on me quite as much as I expected. I was on leave so I hadn’t expected to be in the office anyway. However, even before that I was fairly certain that when I went back to work after my holiday, it would be working from home rather than in the office.

I’m used to having virtual meetings using Skype and Teams because it’s how our organisation operates, but the value of such platforms is becoming clear to many of our Branches and SIGs too. My own Branch held it’s first virtual meeting on Thursday evening. No-one was entirely sure how it would go, but actually we had a good chat and the time flew by. There are some things we learnt about how these platforms work, some ideas on how to improve future meetings and a definite commitment to hold another one in a couple of weeks.

On one level it’s great to catch up with friends and fellow modellers and see what everyone is doing at the moment, no different from a normal meeting really. However, there is a much more subtle but vital purpose that these meetings have. Social distancing and self-isolation may be critical in the fight against coronavirus but that can be very difficult to deal with if you are used to interacting with friends and relatives face to face. It is even more difficult if you live on your own or don’t have a wide circle of friends.

Modellers can be quite solitary individuals. It’s a hobby that doesn’t require you to meet up with other people if you don’t want to, but therein lies the problem. Social media platforms and online forums have a role in keeping in touch with other people but nothing works quite as well as actually talking with them. If your Branch hasn’t already investigated the possibilities of virtual meetings, it’s well worth the effort. I suspect there are people in many clubs who by their nature are quieter or less sociable than others. The monthly club meeting might be one of the few days in the month where they meet up with other people outside their immediate surroundings. Even if you aren’t able to organise a virtual meeting, try and keep in touch with them by phone or at the very least by email.

One of my colleagues at work organised a ‘virtual coffee break’ late last week – a half-hour for all of us to get together and talk about anything other than work. I’m not sure it’s entirely what we’re supposed to use Skype for in work time but now we’re all operating from homes scattered across the County, it’s an important way of maintaining a team spirit and a shared sense of purpose.

The Executive Committee also had it’s first virtual meeting this weekend. IPMS (UK) can’t just shut up shop for duration. A proportion of our membership is renewing every month so we have to manage that as we always do. Dave Berryman and Chris Ayre are also hard at work getting the next issue of the IPMS (UK) Magazine into production and it should be with you by the end of April. The business of operating a Limited Company (for that is what we are) also means we have to maintain a close eye on everything that’s happening and there are decisions to be made. We normally aim to have around seven or eight Committee meetings per year but with all the uncertainty at the moment, we’ll be meeting on a monthly basis. Using a virtual meeting platform certainly makes this easier and more practical.

The big item of discussion this time was inevitably Scale ModelWorld. It’s the single biggest financial commitment we have each year so we wanted to develop a clear set of timelines and consider various risk factors. What’s clear is that at the moment we do not have to make any big decisions about the show. We can continue planning for it on the same timetable as we normally do. The difference is that we will ensure that we have contingency plans in place for a range of scenarios between now and November.

Please stay safe and make the effort to keep in touch with one another. We’ll get through the current difficulties sooner or later but let’s make sure we don’t leave anyone behind.

John Tapsell
IPMS (UK) Publicity Officer