Review of my Mental Health First Aid Course Training

Review of my Mental Health First Aid Course Training

Last year in October I took part in a panel discussion for Cyber House Party about mental health and why it is so important to look after our mental health. During the panel discussion we also talked about our strategies and coping mechanisms for when our mental health is not great, and during the rehearsal session one of the panellists mentioned that he was a mental health first aider.

Up until that point I had never heard of such a thing, and I was really intrigued. I had done First Aid at Work training, although my certification has expired. As I have been working solely from home since 2015, even before the pandemic hit, I had not got round to undertaking a refresher course for it.

The previous month I was asked to give a talk to the Worcester Ethical Hackers Group, and I chose to focus my talk on “Managing Stress and Burnout in Infosec”. As part of my talk and putting a slide deck together for it I was referred by Club CISO to “Thrive” and their Managing Director Simon Nichols, who kindly helped to input into my slide deck for the talk from a mental health perspective. They say that life happens when you are busy making other plans, and on the evening that I was supposed to give the talk to the Worcester Ethical Hacking Group I was rushing my beloved dog to a specialist vets in Solihull with my husband as she was very ill and had gone completely off her legs. It turned out she had a burst disc in her back, and although she avoided surgery for it, her recovery was a long process.

It turned out thatThrive” offered the Mental Health First Aider course in partnership with another training provider, and I didn’t hesitate to sign up to do the course in November last year. However, as it got close to the time that I was supposed to take it, I realised that I just was not in the right frame of mind to do it. My beloved dog being taken so ill and my Dad being in hospital in September last year fighting sepsis took its toll on me, and my own mental health suffered. I realised that I was in no fit state to take the course at that time, so I contacted Simon Nicol to explain the situation and ask if I could defer the course to the following year, even though I had already paid for it.

Not only was Simon really understanding and rescheduled my course to 19-21 January, he also asked me if I would like a “check in chat” with him, which I took him up on. I could not believe how nice it was of him to check with me to see how I was doing, and while the truth was that I wasn’t doing so great, it helped me a lot to know that I wasn’t alone.

Christmas and new year came and went, and earlier this month we were placed back in lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite this I entered 2021 with a renewed energy for my work and I was determined to make the best of things, motor on with my goals and take the course as planned.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started the course, or how it would make me feel. I was prepared for it to bring up things that would be painful for me, and scheduled quiet time in my diary around the 2 main course days.

The course gave me insights into my mental health that have helped me greatly. I don’t want to give too much away here, especially for someone who is thinking of doing the course, but it helped me immensely when it comes to asking the right questions if I suspect that someone is struggling and signposting them to the right help, organisations and resources. I was reassured to find that I was already doing a lot of what was covered on the course from a technique’s perspective, but it helped me to frame it in a different way when it comes to helping people. A big motivator for me is the fact that there have been some awful things happen to my friends on Twitter and LinkedIn, things that really affected their mental health, and I hoped that the course would provide me with the knowledge and resources to know that I am on the right lines with how I help them. It certainly did that and more.

The ALGEE acronym will be forever imprinted in my brain now. We also learnt listening techniques and how to help someone with specific mental health condition such as anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, psychosis and how to talk to someone who was contemplating committing suicide.

The discussions around suicide were very painful for me, but nevertheless I shared my experiences. In the late 1990s my ex-husband and I helped our then next-door neighbour when his wife committed suicide. Talking about suicide in the course brought this experience to the forefront of my mind again, but one thing I know is that if someone is hell bent on taking their own life, they will find a way to do it. I would never think that someone who was thinking that way was crying wolf; and while most times it is often a cry for help or for someone, anyone to help them you cannot ignore it if someone says they want to take their own life.

Also, in many cases as it was with my next-door neighbour, there will be NO warning signs at all. To this day I still cannot believe she did it, I heard her laughing and joking with her husband in the garden on the very afternoon of the day she took her own life. By the evening, she had gone. I felt so guilty for such a long time, but there was nothing I could do. Talking about this in the course helped me to finally understand that, and to gain long overdue closure from what happened to my next-door neighbour. I hope she is at peace now.

The trainers Simon Nichols and Ross Abbott were both very insightful and very professional. I cannot recommend the course enough and think that every organisation should have a mental health first aider no matter what their size. It makes me very angry that organisations don’t take the mental health of their employees seriously, especially during these challenging times with the coronavirus pandemic. For some reason things are weighted towards the business and not the employee when it should be the other way round, after all, a business wouldn’t be anything without their employees. So many businesses don’t look after their employees today, which is very sad. Worse, many have lost their jobs for admitting they have struggled with their mental health.

If you are thinking of taking the mental health first aid course, I recommend you take it through “Thrive”. I also can’t thank Simon Nichols and Ross Abbott enough, they inadvertently allowed me to have a platform to share my biggest phobia (something I had never done before) and a place to acknowledge that mental health is important, and if we don’t look after ourselves first and foremost, we cannot help anyone else. I chose to put my mental health first last November when I asked to defer taking the course until this month; it paid dividends and allowed me to be the best I could be when taking the course this month.

If anyone reading this is struggling, please do not struggle alone – reach out to me. I cannot do much, but I can listen, and I can help and signpost you to resources and organisations that will help you. We might be isolated and cut off from each other in a face-to-face capacity, but we can talk on the phone and video calls, and I am always happy to do that.

#MentalHealthMatters

 

My Top 5 Cyber Security Video Series

My Top 5 Cyber Security Video Series

Welcome to my new series of blogs which will cover my top 5 cyber security events, podcasts, publications, and video series. In my first blog I covered the top 5 cyber security events that I cannot afford to miss, and in this blog I am going to list my top 5 cyber security video series.

Without further ado, my top 5 cyber security podcasts are:

Rebooting
Rebooting is the brainchild of Lisa Forte, a cyber security and social engineering expert. For as long as she can remember she has subscribed to the idea that we can learn something from every single person we meet. She has taken it upon herself to meet a wide range of cyber and resilience experts to bring you a fun and informative stream of content. Debating tough issues. Learning new things. Helping you “Reboot” and come back more knowledgeable and resilient. Lisa has interviewed experts such as Troy Hunt, Jake Moore and Graham Clueley.

Cyber Talks
CyberTalks is a media channel dedicated to promoting cyber content direct from leading cyber industry figures. They are passionate about providing real-world content to our members. The CyberTalks community is now more than 10,000 strong, with members drawn from all over the world.

Proficio Cyber Chats
Proficio has a series of cyber chats with leading industry experts such as Tony Morbin and Oliver Roachford. They aim to cover all kinds of topics such as the impact on COVID-19 on the cybersecurity landscape and prioritising your risk.

Cyber Crime TV
Cyber Crime TV is part of Cybersecurity Ventures. They provide cyber economic market data, insights, and ground-breaking predictions to a global audience of CIOs and IT executives, CSOs and CISOs, information security practitioners, cybersecurity company founders and CEOs, venture capitalists, corporate investors, business and finance executives, HR professionals, and government cyber defense leaders.

CS Hub
Cyber Security Hub provides regular multimedia on cloud security, data privacy, mobile security and much more, all in an effort to help businesses enhance their IT security.

What is your favourite cyber security video series? Are there any that you think should be on my list? Let me know in the comments below!

My Top 5 Cyber Security Events

My Top 5 Cyber Security Events

Welcome to my new series of blogs which will cover my top 5 cyber security events, podcasts, publications, and video series. In my line of work as the CEO & Founder of the UK Cyber Security Association and as a cyber security awareness consultant I come across many of these and I thought I would share my favourites. I have a “go to” list of events, podcasts, video series and publications that I visit on a regular basis to get great cyber security industry insights and to find out what the hot topics and themes are in the industry.

I thought I’d start with my top 5 not to be missed cyber security events:

Infosec

Infosecurity is the Daddy of cyber security and Infosec events, and is next taking place on 8 to 10 June 2021, subject to coronavirus restrictions. I get so much out of this event from the latest topics and insights, new vendors and products that are helping to keep the cyber world safe and great networking opportunities with my cyber security colleagues and friends. It really is a not to be missed event and one that is firmly on my cyber security events calendar.

Cyber Fringe Festival

This is a new event taking place on November 23 to November 27 online and it promises to be 5 days of key topics, insights and content from companies and speakers who are actively involved in cyber security across the West Midlands in the UK. There are opportunities for virtual networking and a virtual exhibition booth. Topics covered will include cyber security strategy, operational and technical sessions, cyber industry, defence and emergency services, diversity, government, acceleration and cyber security skills. Another not to be missed event in the cyber security events calendar.

The Future of Cyber Security Event Series

This series of cyber security conferences were face to face events before the coronavirus pandemic, but they have successfully evoloved to be a series of virtual conferences. In 2020 they featured keynote speakers such as Edward Snowden and are compered by Colonel John Doody.  These fully interactive and immersive events provide a full conference experience from the comfort of your own home with plenty of opportunities for learning and development.

Think Digital Partners

Think Digital Partners run a series of one day events that focus on cyber security for the government and public sector, with their next event for government taking place on 1 December 2020. As these are aimed specifically at these 2 sectors, they are fully tailored to provide key insights and content that is interesting and relevant for government and the public sector. Think Digital Partners also run a cyber security and digital ID directory.

CyberUK

CyberUK is the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC’s) flagship event which takes place annual in a different part of the UK. In 2021 it is due to take place at the ICC In Cardiff on 11th and 12th May. It features world-class speakers, solutions, and opportunities for interaction between the public and private sectors. Attendees will be briefed on the evolving cyber threat and how we must respond as individuals and as a community to keep Britain safe in cyberspace. The event is attended by over 2000 delegates and is the authoritative event for the UK’s cyber security community. It aims to demonstrate what we can do together as teams, as departments and as organisations to deliver a digital United Kingdom that leads the world in cyber resilience.

What are your favourite cyber security events and conferences, are there any that you think should be on my list? Let me know in the comments below! In my next top 5 blog I’ll be covering my favourite cyber security video series, so keep checking back for this and to see what my top 5 video series are in the cyber security space.

Happy 72nd Birthday to the NHS

Happy 72nd Birthday to the NHS

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday NHS….
Happy birthday to you.

Today marks the 72nd birthday of the NHS, and there is a final #ClapForCarers event taking place at 5pm tonight to mark the occasion. I don’t think I have ever been so grateful for the NHS and what they are doing to keep everyone who contracts coronavirus safe and alive, while also attending to those with other illnesses and conditions. Everyone who works in the NHS, no matter what their role is, is a hero to me.

I feel so lucky and privileged to be able to access healthcare at source whenever I need it, and to book a GP appointment if I need one without having to pay. You could argue that we pay for it through our NHS contributions of course, but that is a small price to pay to be able to see a doctor more or less on demand and to have access to specialists, nurses and doctors when we need them. The NHS should be treasured, because I fear for a day that it becomes a privatised institution.

I’ve had my share of help and support from the NHS over the years – so have my family – and I can’t thank them all enough. We’ve all heard horror stories, and the system isn’t by any means perfect, but we are so lucky to have access to it. In 2013 I had incredible support when I was pregnant with my unborn son Francesco “Frankie” Enrico Ventura. When a severe cleft lip and palate was picked up in him during my 5 month scan I was referred within 3 days from the Worcestershire Royal Hospital to the Foetal Medicine Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham under obstetrician Professor Mark Kilby. When other problems were detected with him, I was supported every step of the way as I prepared to be a full-time Mum to a son who would need 24-hour round the clock care and support.

When my son was stillborn on 29 November 2013 the care and support I received at the Worcestershire Royal  Hospital was second to none, especially from the hospital Chaplain Rev’d David Southall who went on to become a good friend to myself and my family. I had genetic testing and so did my husband and family at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham when they found after my son was stillborn that he had a very rare chromosome duplication on his chromosome 15, and I know that would not have been cheap. I’m very grateful to the NHS for that and for their support.

With my son Francesco “Frankie” Enrico Ventura and my good friend Rev’s David Southall, Chaplain at the Worcesershire Royal Hospital. Rev’d Southall is baptising my son.

Today I am even more grateful to them for finally getting to the bottom of what was wrong with my Dad and diagnosing him with CASPR2 antibody encephalitis, which is extremely rare and only 45-50 people globally have been diagnosed with this particular kind of encephalitis, which is autoimmune. My Dad has had brilliant support from Dr Tom Heafield, his neurologist at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and Professor Sarosh Irani and his team at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford who my Dad is now under due to the rarity of his autoimmune condition.

In addition to this my Dad is of huge interest to Dr Saiju Jacob, consultant neurologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and to Dr Mike Zandi, consultant neurologist at the Queens Hospital in London.  The only small gripe I have with my Dad’s illness and condition is that it took the NHS nearly 3 years to get to the bottom of it – my Dad was very close to being diagnosed with motor neurone disease with associated dementia – and he didn’t have either condition. But they got there in the end, and for that I am extremely grateful.

With my Dad when he was in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in March 2020, just prior to lockdown, getting treated for his CASPR2 antibody encephalitis under Professor Sarosh Irani.

I can’t even begin to imagine what every single NHS worker is going through right now with the coronavirus outbreak and pandemic, I am in awe of each and every one of them for what they do for us. They deserve our most lavish praise and most outstanding ovations (as the quote goes in the film “The Greatest Showman”). How they cope day after day, night after night is incredible.

If my Dad was living in the USA, even if he had the best health insurance policy that money could by over there, he would NOT be covered for CASPR2 antibody encephalitis. Autoimmune conditions are excluded from health insurance policies in the States and he would have to thousands and thousands of dollars for his treatment despite having insurance.  This brings it home even more as to how lucky we are to have access to healthcare when we need it.

Of course, if we have the money or insurance policies we can bypass the NHS and pay to have certain treatments and operations privately – but the majority of us are not so lucky – and this is only going to get worse as the pandemic grows, job losses occur and people lose their businesses and livelihoods. We MUST treasure our NHS with everything we have got. If I had the power to grant every specialist, professor, doctor, nurse, healthcare professional and person who works for the NHS a pay rise I would do so in a heartbeat. It is scandalous that they are paid so little for everything they do for us.

So happy birthday NHS, and THANK YOU for everything you do for us, especially during these unprecedented times with the coronavirus pandemic spreading like wildfire all over the world. I treasure you all more than you will ever know. On a person note, thank you for all the help, support, treatment and care I and my family have received from you. You all have my deepest and utmost respect for what you do.

Coronavirus Outbreak 2020: This Too Shall Pass

Coronavirus Outbreak 2020: This Too Shall Pass

I’ve seen and heard some pretty harrowing things this last week or so when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak. And yet somehow I have to have faith and believe that things will get better one day.

 

They won’t be the same. I am sure we will all be forever changed as a result of the events of this year so far. It isn’t over yet and more is to come.

 

My heart goes out to:

 

– all the key workers in the NHS, supermarkets, carers, delivery drivers etc – you are all putting your lives at risk for us
 
– the families of those affected by coronavirus, and who have lost loved ones to the disease
 
– everyone else who is doing their part and helping in the fight against this awful disease
 

– all of those who have been furloughed or who have lost their jobs due to the virus

 

I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everything okay again, as it was before the virus came, but I know I can’t.

 

I am very lucky, I know that. All I have to do is stay in my own home apart from my daily bit of exercise to walk my dog Poppy and to do 1 food shop a week on a Saturday for myself and my parents. I hate leaving the shopping on their doorstep and not being able to see them. I am thankful to all my friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn who have taken time to chat to me on messenger and who have been checking in on me and my parents to see if we are okay. It means the world to me. I miss my family and friends, but I’m lucky to have Facebook messenger and other online tools to be able to speak to them and even see them on video.

 

It is truly at times like this that you realise what is important, that you chuck out what isn’t important and you get to see first-hand who is there for you and who isn’t. People show their true colours in a time of crisis, and I’ve certainly seen that with some individuals first-hand since the coronavirus outbreak happened. Good riddance to bad rubbish is what I say to that!

 

I hope with all my heart that this too shall pass and we will all be able to see each other again, hug each other and tell each other we love each other. Let’s all try to hang on in there and do what is being asked of us by the government to try and halt the spread of coronavirus. I know how tempting it is to go out on a lovely day like today, but we mustn’t.

 

We all have to keep calm and carry on as best we can, and as hard as it is. In the meantime, if any of you need to talk or just want to vent, chat or catch up, I’m there for you. Send me an email, find me on social media, and get in touch. Please don’t feel that you have to go through these crazy times alone…you don’t.
Coronavirus Outbreak 2020: Why I Am Self-Isolating as Much as Possible with No Symptoms

Coronavirus Outbreak 2020: Why I Am Self-Isolating as Much as Possible with No Symptoms

In early January this year news began to circulate about a new strain of coronavirus that was sweeping across China, and that originated in the province of Wuhan.  Dubbed COVID-19, this strain was deemed to be more contagious and deadly than previous strains of the virus. China moved quickly to contain it, but with international travel today it was inevitable that it would spread across the world. Unfortunately, it has spread globally, and at a rapid pace. As the news began to report more and more cases of the disease worldwide, and with so much still unknown about it, how it spreads and how to contain it, I began to get very anxious about it.

First Thing First – What Exactly is COVID-19?

According to www.nhs.uk, coronavirus (or COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It is not yet known exactly how it is spread from person to person, but similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Unlike other flu and cold viruses’ symptoms of coronavirus have 3 distinct areas including a fever, cough and shortness of breath. However, it is still very hard to distinguish coronavirus from other flu and cold viruses.

Current guidance for dealing with the outbreak includes:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Don’t touch your face or eyes if your hands are not clean

Those with underlying health conditions and the elderly are most at risk from coronavirus.

At first, government advice was to self-isolate at home for 14 days if you developed a cough, fever or shortness of breath, or if someone in your household developed symptoms. But as the outbreak has progressed, government advice is now to self-isolate for 7 days with ANY symptoms that are cold or flu like.

They also said that anyone who could work from home for the foreseeable future should work from home to help contain the spread of the virus. I’ve been working from home since 2015, and I am already used to doing this with no problems.

The Global Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak

Most countries in the world are now affected by the coronavirus outbreak, but the epicentre of it seems to have moved from China where it originated to Europe, and in particular, in Italy. Italy is currently on a complete lockdown, as is Spain, and other countries are following suit. Last week the coronavirus outbreak was officially declared a global pandemic.

Panic buying in the shops and supermarkets has been seen all over the world, with people clearing the shelves of items such as toilet paper, tinned food, pasta, UHT milk, rice and other non-perishable items. I’ve seen panic buying first-hand where I live in Worcester, with huge queues at supermarkets and people literally grabbing what they can off the shelves as if they are preparing for Armageddon, a nuclear war or the end of the world. It really is truly frightening.

My Personal Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak

On Sunday 1 March 2020 my Dad, who is my absolute world, was admitted to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for tests and treatment after being diagnosed with an ultra-rare brain condition called CASPR2-antibody encephalitis on 8 January 2020. Due to this diagnosis my Dad is at HUGE risk as he falls into the “high risk” category due to his underlying health conditions. I am sure that if he contracted coronavirus, he would have NO chance whatsoever against it.

When he was admitted the number of coronavirus cases in the UK was still relatively low. Due to him being so far away from us, my Mum and I decided that we would visit my Dad twice a week. It is an hour and a half or more to get to the John Radcliffe Hospital in the car from Worcester and the parking there is atrocious. Instead we decided to travel by train and then a taxi or the bus when we visited my Dad.

My Mum and I made 3 trips by train and bus to visit my Dad while he was in hospital, and by the third trip I felt like I was playing Russian roulette with coronavirus. People had learnt NOTHING and were coughing and spluttering away without covering their mouth or using a tissue. By this time the death toll was up to 10 and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases was around the 750 mark, with 7 confirmed cases in Oxford.

While other countries including Italy and Spain moved to lockdown to try and contain the spread of the virus as well as cancelling mass gatherings including sporting events and conferences, the UK took no such stance. The USA closed its borders to people travelling there from Europe, and from tomorrow it will close its borders to people travelling there from the UK and Ireland.

Our government will possibly be taking other measures to contain the spread of coronavirus such as asking the over 70’s to stay at home for up to 4 months, but so far they have not closed schools or banned mass gatherings. Some have been cancelled or postponed anyway, for example, the London Marathon due to take place in April has been moved to the Autumn.

After my last visit to see my Dad in hospital in Oxford last Wednesday, I took the decision to self-isolate myself as much as possible to try and mitigate the possibility of contracting coronavirus.

Why Have I Decided to Self-Isolate Without Symptoms?

Before I go into why I have made a decision to self-isolate myself as much as possible, I should say that what I am doing isn’t necessarily right for everyone. However, I think we all need to weigh up our own personal risk factors when deciding what is best for us on an individual basis in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

I have made my decision due to my Dad’s poor health from CASPR2-antibody encephalitis, and because he falls into the high-risk category for contracting coronavirus. My Dad is my absolute world, and while I know I could potentially fight off and recover from coronavirus, I am sure that my Dad with all his underlying health problems would stand no chance against it.

Until further notice, I will NOT be doing any of the following things:

  • Travelling on any kinds of public transport including train, plane, bus, tube or taxi.
  • Attending any cyber security or work-related events, conferences or meetings.
  • Going to Costa coffee for catch ups with my friends.
  • Going to the cinema with my friends.
  • Eating out in restaurants with my friends.
  • Going into town shopping, or to Malvern retail park shopping.
  • Going to the gym.

As I work from home anyway, I will be able to continue everything I am doing with my work with the one exception in that I have pulled out of being a speaker at some cyber security related events and conferences. For example, I pulled out of speaking at this year’s Cloud and Cyber Security Expo and the Think Cyber Security for Government event. I’ve also been asked to speak at some other leading cyber security events and conferences, but I’ve said no to them all. I do wonder if they will go ahead in the light of the coronavirus outbreak, as many have been cancelled or postponed already.

I am always happy to take part in any online or virtual events and conferences (in fact, I’m taking part in one led by Infosecurity Magazine on 25 March) or have meetings via video call, Skype or Zoom instead of face to face. The next speaking engagement that I have in my diary is 28/29 April for the Identity and Access Management Summit event, but I will monitor things closely and if the situation is still bad with the coronavirus outbreak I will cancel that too (I have already been in touch with the organisers about it).

I had SUCH great plans for this year in terms of keynote speaking engagements and other speaking engagements, especially as I had to put these on hold last year to look after my Dad. But the risk is just too great, events and conferences are being cancelled and postponed left right and centre, and it is far better to be safe than sorry. If I can do them virtually or online, then great, but if not – they don’t happen. It is as simple as that.

The ONLY things I will be doing during this period of self-isolation are:

  • Walking my dog Poppy 2 – 3 times a day. I never encounter anyone on our walks, she still needs her walks and I need a bit of fresh air. Sure, someone could have gone past where I walk who has sneezed who has coronavirus, but I’ve deemed the risk to be a small one.
  • 1 x weekly food shop (as my husband and I still need to eat) early on a Saturday morning. That said, after yesterday’s experience of the weekly food shop, I am considering whether to do my food shopping online for a bit. I’ve never fancied doing that as I like to choose the items myself, and I am very funny about sell-by dates and always like to get fresh items with as long a sell-by date as possible. I can’t control that with online shopping.
  • Checking, if needed, on my parents (especially when my Dad is out of hospital as he is due out any time now). As I will only be doing the above two things, I have deemed the risk of checking on them low. However, again I will monitor this risk and I might have to take a further decision not to check on them.

I get that to some people this all might appear extreme. If you think that it is, that’s fine. I have weighed up my own personal risk to coronavirus and made my decision to self-isolate as much as possible accordingly. Of course, I will monitor the situation and make any changes based on how things go over the next few weeks.

Luckily my husband and I are home bodies anyway. We prefer being in the comfort of our own home, and he already goes out far less than I do and works from home like me (we are lucky enough to have an office at home each). For my husband self-isolation has already been a way of life for a long time.

If I need anything, I will order it online as far as possible. I will limit visitors to my home as far as possible. When deliveries arrive, I will keep a distance when answering the door. For now, my home is my castle – in more ways than one.

Ironically, my husband and I installed a home gym in January this year. In February we installed a home cinema system complete with retractable large screen and projector for films. At the time my husband said that if ever we are stuck at home, we have everything we need here to keep us busy and entertained. Little did I realise that a few short weeks later I would be making the decision to self-isolate in this way. We literally do have everything we need at home to self-isolate as much as possible and to ride this coronavirus storm out. We are very lucky indeed.

During this period of self-isolation I will be motoring on with the UK Cyber Security Association and working on that, and I have some plans for interviews, content, videos and podcasts under the UKCSA banner which I will get underway in the next few weeks. I will finish proof reading and launch my book “The Rise of the Cyber Women” (I had to put the release date back slightly as so much of my time last month was taken up with getting my Dad in front of Professor Sarosh Irani to be treated for his CASPR2-antibody encephalitis), attending to lots of small things that I have been putting off at home and enjoying my home cinema system and home gym. I have plenty of things to do, plenty of things to be getting on with, and I know I won’t be at all bored!

I have also made a decision to change the membership model of the UK Cyber Security Association slightly to being a virtual one with all future employees being based remotely from home and all events taking place virtually. That may change when the coronavirus outbreak is more under control, but for now it is definitely the right thing to do.

I know that I can’t control everything. Despite my best efforts I could still contract coronavirus, as so much is still unknown about it and how it transmits from person to person. But I am safe in the knowledge that even if I do contract it, I have done all I can to try and mitigate my risk of contracting it. And that is all I can do.

What are you doing to mitigate the risk of contracting coronavirus? Do you think the outbreak is a big storm in a teacup? What do you think about all the panic buying that is going on? I’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave me a comment below!