Every year, YunoJuno, the UK's largest freelancer marketplace, hosts its Freelancer Awards, celebrating some of the self-employed individuals who are doing amazing work.
This year, they've added a Freelance Impact category for people who are going above and beyond to support fellow freelancers.
Our founder Matthew has been nominated as a finalist - and he's speaking to each of his fellow finalists, to hear about their work, and why supporting fellow freelancers is so important. You can vote for any of the finalists on the YunoJuno website.
Read their profiles here:
Adam Faulkner - Creative Director/Freelance Videographer
Zara Janjua - Broadcast Multi-Hyphenate
Nick Kyriakides - senior post-production artist
Britney Beeby & Harriet Stockwell - creative team
Matthew Knight - mental health advocate
First all, please introduce yourself, what do you do as a freelancer?
I'm an independent strategy partner - I work with businesses to help them figure out what to do next.
Although in recent years, an increasing amount of my time has been dedicated to working on projects which focus on helping people to work well - especially freelancers.
I've been self-employed in various forms since I was 15, which is [gets out the calculator] a long time ago.
You're one of the finalists in the Freelance Impact category - tell us a little bit about the work you're doing to support freelancers, and some of the positive outcomes you've had from doing this.
Of course - my main focus is Leapers, a project supporting the mental health of the self-employed.
We curate and create resources and guides to help freelancers to work well based upon our annual research study; we host a peer-support community where freelancers can connect, ask each other for advice and guidance, and be part of a team for people without a team; and we work with employers to help them improve how they work with freelancers. I'm also involved in a number of committees and working groups across different organisations and charities focused on mental health at work and industry specific challenges around modern employment.
In the six years we've existed, we've helped over 200,000 people, which I'm immensely proud of.
What are the biggest challenges that you see freelancers facing currently - where do you think support is missing for freelancers, and what can we all do to support each other better?
We've had a really rough couple of years: brexit, IR35, COVID, cost of living crisis - and I think most freelancers feel at times like they're dealing with it on their own. If you're not part of a community, or don't know where to turn to look for advice and support, it can feel incredibly hard work. 63% of freelancers don't feel they have adequate support for their mental health at work - and I want to reduce that number.
It isn't just a job for Leapers though - we want anyone who works with freelancers, i.e. clients, platforms who have large audiences of freelancers like YunoJuno, and even individuals to actively help towards supporting freelancers. This means a) signposting to good quality resources and b) actively committing to the wellbeing of freelancers. If you're an individual, that might be as simple as telling a fellow freelance about where they can find support, or offering support. If you're a client, it means taking some time to identify where you can better support the people you rely upon to deliver your work.
Why do you think it's important to give back to fellow freelancers?
I think its important to support all people in times of need, but freelancers particularly don't have great support networks - there's no HR team, there's sick pay or paid holiday, there's no legal team, there's rarely even colleagues or mentors. I've often felt like I've had to deal with things alone, so if I can help even just one person feel a little more supported - then that's good.
What other projects have you come across that are doing great things for freelancers?
The team at The Film & TV Charity have been working really hard over the past few years to support the self-employed, there are some amazing community projects we're friends with such as Doing it For The Kids, and of course, my fellow finalists are doing amazing work across a different range of platforms.
Congratulations to all of the finalists.
You can vote for all of the finalists on the YunoJuno website here.