New Business Venture Provides Mood Boost after Mental Health Battles

Lifestyle changes bring lockdown business success

When a difficult time in her life left Jessica Thompson struggling with mental health problems, she thought she would never be able to recover, but now she is at the helm of a new company, Benergy with her partner Ben Cochrane.

The nutritious snack company aims to bring foods to boost physical health and mental health, promoting better lifestyle and positivity.

 It all started when Jessica and Ben’s plans to hike across the Himalayas were scuppered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“When we first met, Ben’s health and wellbeing weren’t good and neither were mine,” she explained. “He had a dreadful diet, even though he was working as a chef. 

 “From my own perspective, my weight was fluctuating drastically over the years and it was only when Ben started to look at the internal processes, as well as the external ones, such as his diet and lifestyle, that I realised that I also needed to change the way I was living. 

 “We looked at a lot of different lifestyle changes but realised very quickly that our diet and lifestyle was the first thing that needed to change. As lockdown went on, we increasingly realised that those who were eating a clean diet were so much more active. We took a really close look at how we were living and eating.”

The link between diet and mental health is one that the couple realised was more crucial than many realise.

“Your mental health is not something to be taken lightly,” said Jessica. “Neglecting your mind can have a disastrous impact on every aspect of your life and on those of others in your life as well.

 “It was only after I’d gone through a really bad period in my life that I realised that my mind and body were in a really bad place. I couldn’t understand why one day I’d feel great, and the next I’d feel terrible.”

 After meeting, 23-year-old chef Ben Cochrane, Jessica began to look at both herself and her choices and led her to monitor what was going on in her life.

 “When I met Ben, he was starting out on his own journey where he’d started looking at his lifestyle and his diet in particular.

 “Ben had spent two years in hospitality, working as a chef for some well-known restaurants. He was working four fourteen-hour shifts a week, plus an additional half day. Most weeks he was working between 60 and 70 hours a week. 

 “We started going out on walks and began eating healthily and I began to realise how much I was able to focus on my mind and how I was feeling. 

 “I’d love to say that I just changed my diet and everything was fine,” said Jessica, who was born in Belfast, but grew up in Australia, before moving back to the province, “but that was not the case.

“It was a long, long road out of the darkness. But I am so happy to say that my sad days are becoming few and far between and my mood is the best it has been in years. 

“I do still experience panic attacks from time to time, but that is to be expected. I’m only human, but I’m always trying: the healing process is a long one.”

Jessica, whose background is in digital marketing and technical SEO, first met Ben in 2018 and realises how much their lives have changed since that first, meeting.

Spurred on by the positive changes in their own lifestyles, the couple decided to pass their new-found knowledge on to others by creating a range of breakfast pots and snacks for those ‘on-the-go’ moments.

“We’re not simply a nutrition company,” Jessica continued. “We’re all about educating people about food – particularly food that will benefit people both physically and, most importantly, mentally, because that’s where good health really begins. 

“You don’t have to be an international sports star or be heading out to the gym every day to eat the right things and get the best out of your life. Good nutrition is for everyone and should be a very basic part of everyday life.

“Our products are all plant-based, gluten and dairy free, which is very unique as vegan is the world’s fastest growing food market in the world today. We don’t just want to cater for one dietary requirement, we want to combine them all. 

“Our snacks include protein balls, healthy doppelgangers of the favourite blondies, brownies and truffles, and our new breakfast pots that have proved to be our biggest hit yet in the trials with some of Northern Ireland’s big names in personal training.

“Put simply, we want to break down the stigma around food restrictions and to provide products that can be enjoyed by everyone. Nutrition is not just for those that are involved heavily in the gym; all you have to care about is your mind and you can go from there.

“There is such a gap in the nutrition market. Products, for example, that are marketed a lot of the time aren’t great for you yet use the words ‘skinny’ and ‘high protein’ and people will opt for them even though they’re packed with other nasties and will often leave people suffering in other areas.

“It is so important to let people know that many studies have found a correlation between a diet that’s high in refined sugars and impaired brain function. While it’s important to understand this, it’s just as important to understand the benefits.”

Jessica explained that the link between healthy eating and mental wellbeing is being backed up by the science.

“Research undertaken by MIND in people suffering from depression showed that after they ate a banana they felt better,” she said. “This is because bananas contain tryptophan: a type of protein that the body turns into serotonin, which makes you relax and generally feel happier through an elevated mood.” 

The Benergy range contains a great selection of breakfast pots to start the day off well, and a fabulous mix of treats to keep people going in between meals. 

“Mental health applies to both Ben and me in different ways,” Jessica explained. “I suffered tremendously with my mental health through negative experiences, while Ben’s mental health took a hit through poor nutrition a few years ago when he was blissfully unaware and travelling, not to mention working so many crazy hours. 

“Since we got together almost three years ago, we’ve made small, consistent changes and the results have been genuinely incredible, especially in the last year.

 “I believe that physical health is just as important as mental health, but I believe that they are linked in more ways than a lot of people are aware of.

“The pressure that weight – or a lack thereof – can put on the body’s ability to function is tremendously misunderstood. Every day, I am learning something new that leaves my jaw on the floor. I think that everything starts with the mind – your perceptions, your thoughts, your function – everything happens internally first. I think getting yourself in check internally leads to a better ability to look at your physical health and reassess your goals. 

“Good nutrition is the first step to your physical health.

“The benefits to your mental health are an added bonus.”

To find out more about Benergy Nutrition and their delicious range of healthy snacks head to https://benergynutrition.com/

St John Ambulance 999 Defibrillator Fund Walk Underway

Janine Spence, Emma Norris, Grace Geary, Hannah Smyth, Samuel Bell, Daniel Maguire, Rachel Caines

Volunteers from St John Ambulance are walking and running 999km throughout June in a monumental feat, to raise funds to replace the organisation’s life-saving defibrillators.

With more than 150km already completed, volunteers from St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division have dedicated yet more of their time and take on the challenge.

Interim Unit Manager Neil Fusco of St John Ambulance explained that their four emergency frontline ambulances and rapid response vehicle are all vital.

“These vehicles are all equipped to the same standard as the statutory ambulance service,” he said. 

“Sadly, their defibrillators are coming to the end of life and the division needs to buy new ones. Each defibrillator costs around £1,500 and five are needed.”

With the walk underway Neil said it is an extreme challenge.

“Trust us, after chatting to some of the volunteers we can concur that their challenge to walk 999km is no easy feat to achieve,” he said. 

“That is more than 620 miles, but all are willing, even if there may be some blisters to treat.”

St John Ambulance Head Quarters Transport Division based in Carryduff is a well-recognised sight at events like the Ulster Rugby and out and about supporting the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“During the Covid crisis the St John volunteers stepped forward to assist in many ways including responding to calls for Emergency Ambulance Control and transporting Covid positive patients, explained Neil. 

“Since the pandemic began the division has assisted NIAS on over 162 shifts, attending to 427 patients, covering 10,799 miles, over 1,082 hours.”

To help keep each vehicle at the standard required they will need to replace the equipment.

“Any donation, no matter how small, will help the unit to buy these new life-saving defibrillators,” he said. 

“Every donation, no matter how small, is greatly appreciated.”

If you’d like to know more or donate, please visit the division’s fundraising page at  https://bit.ly/2T1oFto

For more information on the vital work that St John Ambulance undertakes visit  https://sjani.org

Kann O&M £250,000 Investment Plan For Solar Farm Panel Cleaning

Department of Agriculture back innovative product

Kann O&M plans a three-year £250,000 investment after they received grant aid of £19,425 from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that was used to assist with the purchase of the leading solar panel cleaning system on the market today.

The Sunbrush system is used to wash large-scale solar farms to improve their performance, and it is the only one of its type across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

David Woodend of Kann O&M said that there was a need for the system as the number of solar farms across Northern Ireland was growing as the government and private sector strive to meet reduced carbon output goals.

“At present solar farm operators in NI have limited options when it comes to cleaning their sites and have to bring contractors from mainland UK or resort to manual cleaning which is a long, labour intensive process with variable results,” he explained. 

“Dirty panels as a result of ineffective or no cleaning at all results in reduced electricity output from the farm.

“The Sunbrush system can clean up to 20,000 solar panels across a 30-acre site in a day.”

Samuel Knox of Kann O&M, said the team has long experience in solar technology, having been involved in the construction of several solar farms, as well as dealing with connecting to the NIE grid.

“Building and managing a solar farm is a big undertaking,” he added. “Both David and I are used to dealing with the challenges that are required and investing in the Sunbrush system is the next step.

“Ultimately the grant aid from the department will mean that we can continue Kann O&M growth. That includes plans for a £250,000 investment across the next three years, leading to six new jobs.”

Minister for Agriculture, Edwin Poots said: “Kann O&M Ltd received financial support totalling £19,425 under the NI Rural Development Programme. This investment services an industry which is making a positive contribution to our environment and the mechanised service will improve productivity and efficiency for both Kann O&M Ltd and the solar farms. I wish them every success for the future.”

Kann O&M provides services in the renewable energy sector, with David and Samuel’s experience in solar starting with work on the first large-scale solar farm in Northern Ireland in 2016. The company also provides land management services to the solar sector which aim to improve biodiversity and provide additional environmental benefits to the local area.  

“While we are both electricians we are also both farmers and live in rural backgrounds,” said David. “That means that we understand that while solar farms are a key part of the zero carbon future, we want them to have as little impact as possible, and even enhance the wildflower and native species growth.

Dished up Deli brings homemade cooking to your doorsteps

Philip Davison was inspired during lockdown to open Dished up Deli and is now offering homemade cooking, delivered to your doorstep for your weekend dining.

From three-course dinners to snack boxes and their speciality brownies Dished up Deli has a weekly changing menu, which if ordered on Wednesday will be with you, freshly prepared, on Friday.

It all started when Philip posted on social media what he was doing at home.

“Over the several lockdowns I shared pictures of some creation on Facebook and got slightly hounded,” he explained. “I finally got a call saying look would you make that make dinner for me and my friend we are dying to try this.

“That is how Dished up Deli was born, I think it was a honey chilli chicken, but much fresher.”

Although not a chef Philip’s passion for food has been there from an early age, and he is no stranger to hospitality, including stints at one of the most exclusive country clubs in Florida, and catering for Royalty.

“I worked for over 10 years in Front of house, and still do, managing many amazing music events, catering events and private dinners and I love the variety it offers,” he said. “I have been given a great opportunity while remaining GM of Living Room Café to develop this passion project and local east Belfast business.”

The passion is clear in the ethos of Dished up Deli.

“We supply quality homemade cooking from my home to yours, dishes come cold with simple reheating instructions so you can have a delicious homemade meal in minutes,” Philip explained. “Fresh ingredients are always used & therefore it allows for up to three days shelf life.” 

“We change the menu as often as possible and new products are constantly being innovated to match the needs of the seasons, the customers and the weather such as the brand new BBQ boxes.” 

Philip’s journey into hospitality and the love of preparing food, including achieving a BSC Honours in Hospitality Management began as a child learning from his grandmother the tricks and tips in preparing perfect pavlovas, flans and fifteens.

Orders received by 6pm on Wednesday will be delivered on Friday between 4.30-8pm.

Full details at dishedupdeli.com or visit socials @dishedupdeli.

Food Impacts Mood Says Chef Making Healthy Changes For All

Healthy snacks and breakfast company heralds better options

Skipped breakfasts, supermarket meal deals and 60+ hour weeks fuelled by energy drinks were plunging chef Ben Cochrane’s health all in the wrong direction, but now he is back with the message food impacts mood and a business to help others make the right dietary choices. 

The business, Benergy, came about after he and his girlfriend, Jessica Thompson, began to re-evaluate how they were living, and then the Covid-19 lockdown scuppered plans to travel to the Himalayas.

While initially disappointed, having to remain at home in Northern Ireland has led to a new life for both Ben and Jessica – personally and professionally.

 “Once the lockdown began, life stood still,” said the 23-year-old Annahilt chef, “but, as with many other people, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and take a good, long hard look at myself.
“One glance in the mirror showed a pale, skinny and unhappy man and I didn’t like what I saw.

 Ben believes that he was making all the wrong choices in his own diet while he was, ironically, serving up healthy meals.

 “Looking back now, I’m not surprised that I looked as bad as I did,” he said. “Prior to lockdown, I’d spent two years in hospitality, working as a chef for some well-known restaurants, including Shu in Belfast. I worked four fourteen-hour shifts, working from 9am to 11pm and then an additional half day. Most weeks I was working between 60 and 70 hours a week. 

 It was what he was eating that now is clear to Ben that was compounding matters.

 “To make matters worse, I wasn’t eating breakfast, which is arguably the most important meal of the day,” he explained. “If I did have something to eat in the morning, it was usually a sandwich meal deal, which lacked the level of nutrition which I needed given the hours that I worked.

 “I also drank a lot of energy drinks on busy shifts. While they would give me an initial boost, they’d also give me sugar crashes, particularly during service. This made me tired and lethargic.”

 Despite the fact that lockdown was a major lifestyle change for everyone, Ben soon found that it was to bring some unexpected benefits to his life.

 He spent lockdown in Annahilt, where his family have some land, and began growing his own vegetables and spending a lot of time in the open air.

 “I realised very quickly that my general appearance and overall health and wellbeing was down to a lack of nutritional food,” he continued. “There’s no doubt that life is all about balance. It’s about what you eat, how much you sleep, how much you exercise, how much caffeine you drink. 

 “Prior to lockdown, I wasn’t paying any attention to any of these. I didn’t understand how my body actually functions and hadn’t realised that my calorie intake was negative. Put simply, my body was burning more calories than I was taking in through food.

“That’s why I was losing weight and feeling exhausted all the time.

 My diet was also lacking in particular micronutrients, such as vitamin C, that I needed to prevent me from becoming ill. No wonder I looked and felt so bad.

 “Once I was in Annahilt, however, I not only started eating three meals a day, but I also began researching about what certain foods do to the body.”

 The changes that Ben made to his lifestyle were to have quick rapid and dramatic results. Not only did he look and feel better – and healthier – but he also found that the change in his diet had a major impact on his mood. 

 “There’s no doubt,” said Ben, “that food impacts mood. My diet had left me with little energy and, as a result, I frequently suffered from both low mood and mood swings. I now understand that our brain is the ‘engine’ of our body and our body is the ‘car’. The car can function on non premium fuel, but it simply won’t work as well or last as long. The same goes for premium food in relation to your body and your brain.” 

 Over a period of time, Ben found that certain health conditions, such as his irritable bowel syndrome, had more or less disappeared – all of which he realised was the result of his switch to a healthier diet and lifestyle. 

 “I knew that the change in my diet was the reason why I looked and felt better, and I wanted everyone to have access to education on this subject, so that they too could benefit as I had.

 As an experienced traveller, I had had access to a wide range of food cultures and I was aware that more and more people were opting for a vegan diet, it was my focus on putting whole foods into my body and no processed that I really saw the changes in myself, mood, motivation and energy wise.

 The Himalayas’ loss was ultimately to prove Northern Ireland’s culinary gain, as Ben and Jessica launched Benergy: with a range of plant-based, gluten and dairy-free range of snacks and breakfast pots. 

 “Benergy isn’t just an ordinary nutrition company,” Ben continued. “We’re all about educating people about food – particularly food that will benefit people both physically and, most importantly, mentally, because that’s where good health really begins. 

 “You don’t have to be an international sports star or be heading out to the gym every day to eat the right things and get the best out of your life. Good nutrition is for everyone and should be a very basic part of everyday life.

 “Our products are all plant-based, gluten and dairy free, which is very unique as vegan is the world’s fastest growing food market in the world today. We don’t just want to cater for one dietary requirement, we want to combine them all. 

 “When I read or hear about vegan food, I hear a lot of negative remarks about the taste and such like. As a chef, I felt it was a challenge to create a selection of tasty fresh treats and a filling and, more importantly, a fulfilling breakfast option. If food tastes good, does it matter if it is vegan friendly?”

 The Benergy range contains a great selection of breakfast pots to start the day off well, and a fabulous mix of treats to keep people going in between meals. 

 “I now realise that breakfast provides you with the necessary fuel to start your day,” Ben said. “That’s why I created these breakfast pots, to give people a ‘grab and go’ pot, which would provide them with a nutritious and delicious start to their day, regardless of time constraints.

 “They’re a macro-friendly breakfast: a mixture of oats, fruits and nuts that’s nutritionally balanced, so they’ll give you all the necessary fuel to get you through the day.”

 Ben believes there is important nutritional advice for people’s overall wellbeing.

 “Food and mental health are directly related,” he said, “One thousand per cent. It’s now my ultimate goal to educate people on the importance of this, particularly since we’re facing the biggest mental health pandemic that this country has ever seen.

 “It saddens me to see people struggling and reaching for medications when there are some simple steps that can be life changing. 

 “Food, as I said, impacts mood. 

 “It’s as simple as that.”

 To find out more about Benergy Nutrition and their delicious range of healthy snacks head to https://benergynutrition.com/

Time For Government To Step Up For Hospitality Sector

By Emma Bricknell, restaurant owner

The welcome re-opening of hospitality after long, depressing months is something everyone in the sector has been longing for but the government needs to back us after such a tough time.I have had to take seriously the impact on my business, and will be changing the brand of all my Made in Belfast restaurants, starting in Hill Street with the rebrand of my steakhouse grill restaurant into Prawnagraphic offering fresh, fun, seafood.

Some of the aid from Stormont is indeed welcomed as financially some of the packages were good. But the fact that it has just been a case of that you can get on a plane in close proximity to others, there’s a tent in Cathedral Quarter with a film crew drinking and eating but yet we still have to socially distance. The rules and regulations are simply not consistent.

I think, unfortunately, hospitality is one of the industries that has been hardest hit by the inconsistencies of regulations.

However, there are some relatively simple steps that the Executive Office can take by way of support and everyone in the hospitality sector would happily work with ministers in partnership.

We need better licensing laws, cheaper licensing, longer hours, better Sunday trading hours, access to outside street spaces, pedestrianisation of streets and much more.

These, collectively, would make a difference right away as we look to the long term recovery from the pandemic.

In addition we need more clarity on Brexit so we have access to goods and items that we need to sell.

We need more people to come into this country and work here because we have such a shortage in staff. We had no choice but to restructure the business. Many staff didn’t tell us they were moving on until the last minute leaving us with three restaurants and not enough staff to open. I had to make a hard decision, which of the restaurants would open and how.

There’s no chefs right now, we are 600,000 short in hospitality across the UK and the government should be taking action on that. We are struggling with chefs. But we also intend to turn it round for our new brands.

Hospitality is a massive part of our tourism industry and if they don’t help us it will have an effect on the whole economy of the country.

With the fantastic job being done by the health and social care teams in delivering the vaccination programme we should be looking at our road map to reviving Northern Ireland.

Yes, there are many priorities such as reducing hospital waiting lists, but what I am suggesting will not have a major economic cost to the government. Indeed, the rates and taxes that it generates when we return to normal trading will benefit the government in the long run.

With my new restaurant Prawnagraphic, the ethos is short, sweet and fun and out quickly. I would like ministers to adopt that approach with the sector, short not lengthy decision-making, sweet rather than confrontational, fun for all involved collaborating, and the results out quickly to make an impact.

No longer should we see apparently arbitrary rules like having food huts that can do coffee but not soup. No longer should we see the ridiculous decision that allows live music in churches but not in pubs and restaurants.

We are willing to do our bit in the recovery of Northern Ireland, the question is, are our politicians willing to work with us?

To book your place at Prawnagraphic go to resdiary.com/restaurant/prawnagraphic or follow the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram

Fresh, Fun Seafood For Belfast City At Prawnagraphic

New brand for Hill Street dining as Grill gives way to Cali-styled seafood eaterie

A new seafood restaurant is set to open its doors in Belfast’s iconic Hill Street later this week.

Prawnagraphic will open its doors in the historic Cathedral Quarter on May 27, as the new brand from Made In Belfast owner, Emma Bricknell, offering a fun, fresh, sexy seafood menu, all within a California-styled restaurant.

Like many in the hospitality sector Emma took the opportunity to re-think what direction she was going to take and Prawnagraphic is setting a new standard with the new brand.

“Think po boys, prawn toast to lobster rolls, with dirty sides and light vegan based desserts,” she explained. 

“We are doing for a Californian vibe in the colours, but like many restaurants and designs right now it’s on a budget and we are trying to keep it light and bright.

“Gerald McQuillan is the Head Chef and John Smyth the Senior Sous Chef and together then have come up with a menu that is fast, fun and fabulous from freedom farming and fresh sustainable seafood.”

Changing the name in Hill Street is not the only thing that will be getting a refresh as the Made in Belfast brand is set to disappear from the City Hall and Talbot Street restaurants with new concepts being developed and plans for a burger bar and a Mexican themed restaurant.

“I’m really excited about some of our new concepts”, said Emma. 

“Being able to creatively input into the business again has helped me mentally cope with the stresses and strains Covid has put this industry under. 

“I really want to bring a cool, funky burger bar to the city and maybe a hip Mexican. Those new brands are currently in development, but it won’t be long before we’ll be able to reveal them.”

The decision to stagger the new restaurants was forced upon Emma as the strain of the closures as a result of Covid-19.

“We had no choice but to restructure the business,” she explained, adding: “Many staff didn’t tell us they were moving on until the last minute leaving us with three restaurants and not enough staff to open. I had to make a hard decision, which of the restaurants would open and how.

“I’m confident our current plan for reopening the three restaurants in stages is the best economic decision for the company.”

Emma reassured customers that all vouchers will be honoured for any of the new brands, and someone will contact all customers who have made bookings for any of the restaurants about to change. The planned development south Belfast restaurant has been temporarily put on hold.

However, she believes that with the reopening of hospitality there is hope.

“It may have been an incredibly tough year both for me personally and the business but we’re fighting back.”

To book your place at Prawnagraphic go to resdiary.com/restaurant/prawnagraphic or follow the restaurant on Facebook and Instagram

Presenting on Zoom: 10 Ways It’s Different From Speaking On Stage

One year ago as we went into lockdown, it was hard to imagine that, a full year later, video calling would continue to be one of the only ways to get ‘face to face’ with our audiences. 

However, here we are, and although we long for the days when we can meet in person again, mingle before an event kicks off and enjoy a few refreshments together, we will be waving at our webcams for just a little while longer. 

Here are my 10 key ways that presenting on Zoom is different to speaking on stage, and a little on how you can master this ‘new normal’:

1. Set-up 

Although the commute to your ‘stage’ is undoubtedly shorter for a Zoom presentation, paying close attention to how you set up is key. 

It is essential to ensure you have a great wifi connection, your space is quiet and without disruption and you have adequate lighting available.

2. Body Language 

Or rather, your facial expression, as that’s really all you have to work with on Zoom. 

When you are on stage, you can make use of your body language to engage your audience and support your message, however, in the Zoom room, you only have a small rectangle on the screen, and most people are focused on your slides anyway. This means it’s important to be intentional with your facial expression. 

3. No Stage

Perhaps the most obvious thing missing from a Zoom presentation is the stage itself, and what this means for your presence in the room. You won’t have space to move around and  you can’t invite guests to join you on stage. 

In fact, it’s best if you can find a way to stay as still as possible, as moving or swaying too much may distract your audience. 

4. Pausing

Whether you are on Zoom or on a real stage, pausing for effect or to pace your content is equally impactful. 

Although you may be worried that your audience think you have lost connection, it’s more important that you give meaning to your content through strategic pauses, and that you stop for a breath here and there.

5. Appearance 

On Zoom, less of you is visible however that doesn’t mean that appearance isn’t important. 

You should ensure that you are wearing plain clothes without patterns as these could interfere with your camera, and that your backdrop is tidy and professional. 

6. Tonality 

When you take to the stage, you can use your body language and movement to establish gravitas. 

However, when you are on Zoom, it’s important to project your voice and use a tone which enthuses your audience and connects them with your message. 

7. Posture 

Once again, pay attention to what your audience can see. Sit up straight in your chair with your shoulders back. Focusing on your posture won’t only impact your audience, but it will allow you to feel confident about your presentation as well. 

8. Excitement, Enthusiasm & Passion

If you are excited about your message, passionate about your cause and enthusiastic about sharing with your audience, your presentation will be infectious. 

This is just as important on Zoom as it allows your audience to gain a real insight into the importance of what you are saying. 

9. Preparation 

Presenting on Zoom is much more accessible than presenting on stage. However, this doesn’t mean that preparation isn’t vital. 

Take time to prepare and practice your key messages and call to action before your presentation and make sure to time yourself. 

10. Content  

Finally, perhaps the most important difference between presenting on stage and presenting on Zoom is the content. 

Rather than talking at length about your topic, it’s important to focus on giving your audience smaller, bite-size chunks as they will have more distractions at home, so this will be more actionable for them. 

If you would like to find out more about what you can do as a business leader or owner to keep on top of your game and not let challenges or situations change your direction contact Bernie Allen at bernieallen.com or by emailing Berniespowerhouseacademy@gmail.com  Bernie Allen’s book How To Succeed In Business & Life is out now published by Excalibur Press and available from excaliburpress.co.uk and bernieallen.com

Better Food, Better Mood From New Healthy Snack Company Benergy

Benergy’s founders Ben Cochrane and Jessica Thompson For more information, please contact Tina Calder or Hannah Chambers, Excalibur Press, 07305354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk, hannah@excaliburpress.co.uk.

New healthy snack company, Benergy, has a mission statement Food Impacts Mood, as they deliver a range of healthy snack options including breakfast pots that are all plant-based.

Available online, in selected gyms and shops, Benergy’s founders Ben Cochrane and Jessica Thompson, looked at their own lifestyles for two years and realised they needed to change their diet as the first step to become healthier.

For Ben, his work as a chef, 60 plus hour working weeks and his eating habits was leading him on a downward health spiral, when lockdown intervened.

“I wasn’t eating breakfast, which is arguably the most important meal of the day,” he explained. 

“If I did have something to eat in the morning, it was usually a sandwich meal deal, which lacked the level of nutrition which I needed given the hours that I worked.

“I also drank a lot of energy drinks on busy shifts. While they would give me an initial boost, they’d also give me sugar crashes, particularly during service. This made me tired and lethargic.”

With the change in his diet helping with health, the decision to launch Benergy was a logical step.

The Benergy range contains a great selection of breakfast pots to start the day off well, and a fabulous mix of treats to keep people going in between meals.

“I now realise that breakfast provides you with the necessary fuel to start your day,” Ben said. 

“That’s why I created these breakfast pots, to give people a ‘grab and go’ pot, which would provide them with a nutritious and delicious start to their day, regardless of time constraints.

“They’re a macro-friendly breakfast: a mixture of oats, fruits and nuts that’s nutritionally balanced, so they’ll give you all the necessary fuel to get you through the day.”

Breakfast pots by Benergy For more information, please contact Tina Calder or Hannah Chambers, Excalibur Press, 07305354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk, hannah@excaliburpress.co.uk.

For co-founder Jessica the link between good, healthy food and mental health is clear, after struggling with it.

“Your mental health is not something to be taken lightly,” said Jessica. 

“Neglecting your mind can have a disastrous impact on every aspect of your life and on those of others in your life as well.

“I realised that my mind and body were in a really bad place. I couldn’t understand why one day I’d feel great, and the next I’d feel terrible.”

Jessica is clear that Benergy is more than good food.

“We’re not simply a nutrition company,” Jessica added. “We’re all about educating people about food that will benefit people both physically and, most importantly, mentally, because that’s where good health really begins.”

“Our products are all plant-based, gluten and dairy free, which is very unique as vegan is the world’s fastest growing food market in the world today. We don’t just want to cater for one dietary requirement, we want to combine them all.

Benergy’s range includes protein balls, healthy doppelgangers of the favourite blondies, brownies and truffles, and our new breakfast pots that have proved to be our biggest hit yet
Jessica explained that the link between healthy eating and mental wellbeing is being backed up by science.

Truffles by Benergy For more information, please contact Tina Calder or Hannah Chambers, Excalibur Press, 07305354209, tina@excaliburpress.co.uk, hannah@excaliburpress.co.uk.

“Research undertaken by MIND in people suffering from depression showed that after they ate a banana they felt better,” she said. 

“This is because bananas contain tryptophan: a type of protein that the body turns into serotonin, which makes you relax and generally feel happier through an elevated mood.” 

Benergy currently offers customers a range of healthy high protein snacks including coconut protein ballsraspberry chocolate protein ballsprotein biteschocolate protein balls and chocolate protein brownies.

To learn more and shop the full range visit benergynutrition.com 

ENDS

Now Is The Time To Think About Re-structuring Your Business

Human resources and recruitment consultancy People HQ has said that now is the time to begin restructuring businesses, as the pandemic has provided an opportunity to consider what changes are needed going forward.

Greg Quinn of People HQ said that when looking at restructuring it is important to seek proper professional support.

“The current business environment means that business needs to plan ahead, make decisions and ensure their strategy and actions are taking advantage of every opportunity available,” he explained. 

“Both employers and employees become nervous, even anxious, when change is needed. Yet that need not be the case when it is done in a clearly managed, transparent process, with attention to detail.”

Greg said that there were many reasons to undergo restructuring such as change in strategy, cutting costs or making the business more efficient but all must be approached in a manner that ensures the wellbeing of staff and continuity of business.

“There are several clear steps needed in a restructuring project, and that begins with communications”, he said. 

“Communicating with your leadership team and your employees during the restructuring process is essential. By being clear with your team means they won’t feel jarred or blindsided and will allow your team to approach the restructuring as a positive as opposed to something which may threaten them.”

The People HQ boss has more than a quarter of a century experience and said that existing organisational structures have a profound influence on starting restructuring.

“Organisational structure has a profound influence on getting the job done given that it dictates all things from working relationships, to the scope of your teams’ jobs to how they share resources,” he explained.  

“When you set out to restructure your organisation, it is essential that you intentionally structure your organisation in a way which serves the company mission and vision and the business strategy.”

Greg said that at the start of the change process it is important to look at the various tasks and workflows within each job.

“This will allow you to compare your current workflow structure to the new one and determine which tasks are still necessary and which ones need to evolve or perhaps can be emitted entirely,” he said. 

“This is an important step in the process allowing you to streamline workflows and ensure that each and every role is adding maximum value.”

The process, Greg explained, can lead to changes in staff.

“Unfortunately you may find there are some job roles that are no longer needed, while needing new skills in other roles” he said. 

“Re-training is an option as well as recruitment. It is worth noting that you should follow a compliant and appropriate redundancy process at this stage which is in line with employment law.”

The conclusion of the change is a time to make sure businesses have strategies in place for re-engagement 

“Restructuring your organisation is not only a challenging time for you and your business, but it can be an unsettling experience for your employees.” Greg said. 

“It is important that you take them with you in the process and that you plan for re engagement of them following the process.

“It is a good idea to get an insight into your employee attitudes and sentiments at the time, perhaps by way of an engagement survey, which will allow you to plan for engagement once the process is completed.”

People HQ offices recently opened new offices with a £30,000+ investment, and means that Greg and his team will be able to provide their holistic HR and recruitment service across Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.
 

Find out more at peoplehq.co.uk