What a year it's been!
In January 2019 we excitedly entered our silver anniversary year announcing a change in logo for the special year and giving a brief history of CJS over the years; we also started giving away 'birthday presents' to our lovely readers. As CJS's many friends and colleagues began to send us birthday greetings we happily shared those too. We've always counted the first edition in July as 'our birthday' edition as the very first Countryside Jobs Service was printed and sent out to readers on 1 July 1994, although being a print edition by first class post most were actually received on Monday 4 July and last July I wrote a 'how to build a CJS Team' post explaining how we all came to be here and then Niall added some thoughts. You can read all our anniversary articles and birthday wishes here.
Delays, a virus and new developments
Due to many inevitable delays our wonderful new website wasn't ready for launch until the end of the year but we think it was worth the wait. The official 25th birthday in July also saw the launch of our Photography Competition and I should be announcing the winners this week - but a global pandemic put paid to that! As I'm sure you'll agree the last few months have been a rollercoaster. The official lockdown in March caused an immediate upheaval with a virtual cessation in recruitment advertising, we hastily built a Volunteering From Home page on the website and for many weeks it was the most viewed section. we collated resources from many different organisations and posted links to their information hubs as well; all whilst getting to grips with working remotely. As remote and home working looks to be part of the 'new normal' we have also built a working from home page section for the main CJS Online section here. Coronavirus also put a dampener on our planned developments for this year which are slowly surfacing again. The review of subscription rates planned for March didn't happen until April but when it did we were delighted to be able to reduce them to an all time low of just 60p per week and when the following week the Chancellor took the VAT off digital publications we hit our target of 50p per week. Instead of holding the announcement until now as a 26th birthday present we decided to make the change immediately.
Another major development which was slow to mature was the creation of an index of every organisation that has content on the website: that's jobs, training, features, news, volunteers; we've been busily tagging them all and the web designer built a new section so you can browse through and see what organisations have to offer and share. With 1838 (at time of writing) and growing every week it's a monster task but although they might not all have their logos and website links added yet you can have a browse through here; in theory only organisations with anything current should be on the list but apologies if one or two have slipped through! This also means that we've been able to add links to further content from organisations or on similar subjects to every feature article which should allow you to explore the website more easily and find the information you want.
At the start of June we relaunched the photography competition for a further two months of submission with lockdown-friendly suggested themes and you'll get a chance to pick your favourite in August with the Reader's Choice selection. We will now be announcing the winners in September.
We've increased our features output although one Focus edition was dropped from this year's schedule and later this month will ask you for your suggestions and which sort of features you're enjoying and want to see more of. The coronavirus outbreak has affected us all and in recognition of how particularly hard hit our new graduates are we've given them a gift of a year's free subscription to CJS Weekly (sign up here) The CJS Team has (more or less!) adjusted to working from home, although the office dogs are missing their extra pats and ear scratches, we are looking at new flexible working arrangements for the team when 'it's' all over'.
Onwards and upwards
Even a round, spikey virus can't keep CJS down for long and we have one or two new developments to come before our next birthday. So here's to many more and as one reader said last year: " Great service and keep it going for your 'Golden Jubilee' !".