Whilst living in lockdown, it can feel as if each new day brings with it a fresh barrage of bad news. With the only connection to the outside world coming from emergency press conferences and bleak news broadcasts, staying positive is becoming increasingly difficult in these tumultuous times.
For Sarah-Jane Mee however, who many will recognise from her afternoon show on Sky News, the few uplifting stories of communities banding together to support one another started providing some solace in self-isolation. “Watching the news at the moment can feel really overwhelming in the middle of this crisis, but what really has kept me going is all the good news stories,” she says. “The more you look for them, the more there are and they really gave me a lot of hope and encouragement.”
These stories are the inspiration behind #InThisTogether – a new Sky News podcast hosted by Sarah-Jane, which will focus exclusively on positive news from across the UK and beyond. “There’s a greater sense of community more so than there ever has been – that should be celebrated and it should get the coverage it deserves.”
The presenter will be joined by a range of celebrity guests, including Queen’s Brian May and singer Fleur East, to discuss their efforts in lifting the nation’s spirits and highlight the top inspirational stories of the week. Both musicians have released charity singles to support mental health charity MIND in Brian’s case, while Fleur is raising money for the NHS.
Sarah-Jane will also hear from “ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things”, such as Captain Tom Moore. The 99-year-old veteran has raised over £18 million for the NHS after vowing to complete 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday in late April. “I think he should be knighted now and there’s talk of him winning Sports Personality of the Year,” Sarah-Jane says, citing the Captain’s story as one of her favourite pieces of good news during the lockdown. “He wanted to do his bit in his garden and the nation has taken him into their heart.”
Maintaining a positive outlook during these uncertain times couldn’t be more important for Sarah-Jane, who is six months pregnant with her first child and is therefore within the category of people considered to be most at risk from coronavirus. “I initially found it a bit of a shock, but again it’s just trying to get into a positive mindset, so I try to find the good in things and seek out the good news.”
What also encourages the presenter is the “brilliant” sense of community that has developed throughout this pandemic. “There are things I’ll never take for granted again and I think one of the positives of this will be that we will come out as better individuals,” she says. “I go to have my baby at the end of June so when we come out of this, hopefully my baby is going to come into a better world.”
Like many socially distancing across the country right now, the Sky presenter is working from home – however working remotely isn’t particularly easy when your job involves presenting a live broadcast. “It’s a challenge because what is normally a five-six man operation is just me. I’m not only the broadcaster, I’m the camera operator, sound technician, hair and make-up, floor manager, lighting.” Despite juggling multiple production roles on the show whilst also homeschooling her stepson, she’s “fingers-crossed made it on air every time so far”.
After spending the working day covering Covid-19, rising death tolls and PPE shortages, Sarah-Jane makes sure to ration her social media use to avoid falling down the “#coronavirus rabbit hole”, although it is through social media that she finds little nuggets of good news. “That’s the stuff I decided that I wanted to seek out and it’s really helped my mental health – that’s where the idea for this podcast came from.”
Sarah-Jane hopes that #InThisTogether will become a high point of people’s days, reminding them that the sacrifices made by staying at home are making a positive difference. “People need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and to keep going,” she says. “This will end one day and we need to keep looking for the good in all the bad around at the moment.”
If you have a story you would like to share please get in touch via email Choudhry, Sabah (Producer) firstname.lastname@example.org or use @SkySarahJane on social media using the hashtag #InThisTogether.
The first episode of #InThisTogether will air Friday 17th April and will be available wherever you get your podcasts from.