Ilona Alcock

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m hugely passionate about connecting people and helping them to succeed. I have been a part of JCI (Junior Chamber International), a voluntary not-for-profit membership organisation which provides development opportunities which empower young people to create positive change, for the last eight years. Through this organisation I have travelled across the world, competed in public speaking and debating, run training sessions and made wonderful friends. In 2018, I was awarded a Senatorship – the highest honour the organisation can bestow – in recognition of outstanding service.

Over that time, my days jobs have varied enormously and include commercial litigation solicitor for the world’s largest law firm, running a bespoke software development start up and employability consultancy for the University of Salford. My current role at pro-manchester (in normal times!) sees me bringing together business leaders in multiple sectors, running a wide range of events and liaising with local and regional government.

What makes you smile?

I’m a pretty smiley person so lots of things! I’m definitely happiest outside: finding new walking/running routes near our house, reading in the garden or just sitting in the sunshine are guaranteed to make me smile. During lockdown, I’ve also been the recipient of hundreds of little acts of kindness – flowers, a surprise delivery of gold face masks (really!), cards, messages to check how I am, book recommendations – that have kept me smiling even on the toughest days. And of course, my husband and cat do an amazing job of keeping my spirits up. 

What can we do to support others during this time?

Check in! I love the idea that we’re physically distancing, rather than socially distancing. WhatsApp groups have been a great way of offering support. In addition to the usual friends and families ones, we now also have one for our neighbours which has led to using our online supermarket deliveries to buy food for an elderly couple, a VE Day party on our respective drives and a new sense of community which I hope will continue long after this pandemic.

I’d add that we need to be more mindful than ever of each other’s mental health. This situation is taking its toll on us all in different ways and we need to know our support networks are there.

What have you been doing? (Any tips/ advice for isolation)

I’m in a super privileged position for isolation. I have been on furlough for most of it, have a lovely garden and only a husband and the cats to look after. My main concern has been to find things to keep busy and stop me dwelling on the crisis. There have been some tough days where I’ve felt lethargic, overemotional and like this will go on forever.

My gym – the wonderful RM Fitness – has been a lifeline. Not only did they organise a kit loan before this started and run daily, online workouts, they’ve also offered wellness tips and created a much needed sense of community. They recommended journaling through the lockdown and writing down three gratitudes each day. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me to maintain a positive outlook and I’d encourage everyone to give it a try. I have also started daily yoga practice (Yoga with Adriene has a range of free 30 day programmes), ploughed through my reading list and finally started sorting our garden out. 

My top tip though is not to compare yourself with others. One analogy I love is “we’re not all in the same boat; we’re in different boats facing the same storm”.  No one has lived through this set of circumstances before and we’re all just trying to do our best to get through. You don’t need to come out with a six pack, a new language and a side hustle!

Shoutout to someone who has done something kind:
This is going to sound so cheesy but the shout out has to go to my husband. He’s genuinely my favourite person in the world and I’m so proud of how he’s currently juggling a crazy busy job with studying for a Masters and still finding time to look after me. Plus, no one else could describe my lockdown look as “feral” and get away with it!!