A shock to the system — join Year Here in finding solutions for Life Shocks

2020 revealed just how ill-equipped our society is to deal with the unpredictable.

Year Here
Year Here
Published in
3 min readJan 12, 2021


We all know the experience of something upsetting our precariously balanced lives. A last-minute meeting that throws off your week at work. The boiler breaking when you hadn’t budgeted for a replacement. A breakup that leaves you blindsided. Most times, we’re able to pick ourselves up after these setbacks. Other times an event — such as bereavement, losing a job, having to take on caring responsibilities — can escalate into a crisis in which it is hard to recover.

‘Life Shocks’ are specific, unpredictable and uncontrollable events that significantly change the course of people’s lives. Given the current pandemic, life shocks are now inevitable for thousands of people in Britain — and a worryingly large number of households are ill-prepared to withstand them. The ONS recently found that around a quarter of households were not in a position to weather a 25% drop in income over three months.

Unemployment rates are at a record high in the UK due to the pandemic.

It is also clear that the resources and skills needed to cope with the challenges brought on by Covid are not evenly distributed. A record 314,000 people have been made redundant in the third quarter of 2020, with young people and ethnic minorities the hardest hit by job losses. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 700,000 households are already in rent arrears, and 350,000 are at risk of eviction.

Covid has exposed the fragility of our support systems:

  • Our pension system has not encouraged people to build up sufficient savings for later life; according to an analysis by The Investing and Saving Alliance, 2/3 of people aged 50 to 65 in the UK were under-saving for retirement even before the financial hit caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • As millions sign up for Universal Credit, they realise that our benefits system doesn’t offer sufficient income to help them through hard times.
  • Whilst there have been extraordinary efforts by food banks across the country, they are stretched like never before and not designed to meet long-term needs. The Trussel Trust’s chief executive, Emma Revie, told MPs that, “the answer to financial hardship is not food.” Emergency response is just that; more funding and solutions need to exist in the prevention space.
Year Here venture Fat Macy’s train and support young Londoners living in temporary accommodation and help them move into their own homes.

None of us know what the future hold but all signs suggest that more life shocks are coming. There are the obvious issues of an expected double-dip recession and Brexit. There has to be a transition to a Green Economy in a way that doesn’t forget about those in existing sectors. This means that the need for doing things differently is more critical than before. At the same time, the desire for change and the will to challenge the status quo makes it a perfect time to act.

While we can’t completely prevent life shocks, we can do more to help people prepare for their future, build financial resilience and bounce back. This is why we at Year Here are launching a social innovation partnership with Royal London. We offer Fellows the chance to gain insight into families’ experience of life shocks (both in crisis management and greater resilience) and stimulate innovation and enterprise activity. As part of our cohort, you would be working on the frontline to build deep understanding, be delivering client projects to identify gaps in the current system, and finally looking to launch their own social business solutions.

Our partnership also recognises the value of lived experienced leadership. That is why we are offering a Life Shocks bursary to let those closest to an issue drive the required social change. If you want a platform to tackle these social challenges or you have lived experience that you can use to design impactful solutions, apply to join our Spring 2021 cohort by Sunday, January 17th.



Year Here
Year Here

A year to test and build entrepreneurial solutions to society’s toughest problems.