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  • Event First Steps

Against All Odds: How the Events Industry is Adapting

Purple background with message This isn't forever. It's just right now.

It goes without saying that we are currently living through a period of uncertainty.

Uncertainty of job security and opportunities.

Uncertainty for when the events industry will be back up and running.

And even uncertainty of what ‘normal’ shall be when this is over.

For those of you who are in the graduating class of 2020, or were planning on making the shift across to the events industry, it may look and feel like there isn’t much here. With no live events taking place and no real idea of when they will be back up and running.

Yet throughout all this upheaval there are companies, teams and individuals who have made pivots and changes, that are having real impact in helping those on the front line.

So yes, whilst the normality of the industry is uncertain, there are many people still doing exceptional work - just in a slightly different way.

We wanted to share a few of the amazing stories we’ve seen.


Our friends at Boulevard Events - a family-run, award-winning catering and events company based in Hackney - shifted gears and have set up a healthy meal delivery service within their local community. They have also recently launched another aspect - providing their favourite menus for events as delivery meal packs.

Another friend of Event First Steps is Yahire, who provide event furniture and catering equipment for events across the UK. They are currently using their infrastructure to voluntarily run charitable projects with the likes of Age UK, and local food banks, hospitals and schools.

Smart Group is a catering company that has also made a big shift. They have reopened their kitchens to collaborate with Cook-19 and provide restaurant-quality meals to NHS key workers who are in self-isolation across London.

What about suppliers with products you wouldn’t initially think can help in these times? Well, Hybrid Flowers decided to hand out bunches of flowers to local heroes and key workers in and around their local area, that would have otherwise gone to waste, and are currently providing some very positive messages across their Instagram with #LetHopeBloom.

For Dzine Furniture, a family-run furniture company, they decided to make use of the furniture they had sitting in their warehouse by offering it to NHS frontline hospitals. These items are being used to furnish a number of staff areas across Cheshire Hospitals, where employees can receive counselling and mental health support.

It goes without saying that we’ve all seen how the industry has come together to transform ExCeL London into the NHS Nightingale hospital. Done in under a fortnight with all costs being covered by ExCel and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC). More than 200 event specialists came together with the army to transform the venue into a hospital.

But it isn’t just in London that venue spaces have been turned into vital NHS resources. Manchester Central has opened as the NHS Nightingale North West. And the NEC, in just 8 days, has been turned into NHS Nightingale Birmingham. Plus Harrogate Convention Centre is now the NHS Nightingale Yorkshire and the Humber. A real showcase of the skills that we have in the events industry, to transform these venues in such a quick time frame.

Olympia London has been converted into large food storage, production and distribution facility for Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank service. And The O2 arena has been opened as an NHS training facility for staff who shall be working at Nightingale Hospital at ExCel.

As if support from businesses wasn’t enough, it is not just companies making changes - event professionals across the UK have come together to create the EITF (Event Industry Task Force). Allowing qualified freelancers, specialist suppliers and existing production resources to come together and offer their services to those who need it.

The US events industry has also created something similar called the Live for Life C19. A coalition of over 90 companies who have come together to offer the healthcare businesses assistance with building structures, making face masks, plexiglass plates to be used in front of check out counters, signage, temperature-controlled storage, mobile containers and much more.


There are so many more stories of people utilising their time, skills and expert knowledge to help in the current climate. We hope that by sharing how some companies and individuals are pivoting that, whilst this is an uncertain time, you can see that our industry hasn’t gone anywhere. We’re doing what we do best - adapting and finding solutions.

Please do share in the comments of other companies and individuals who are pivoting, as we want to continue to share the amazing work that is taking place during this time of uncertainty.

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