HELENSBURGH'S emergence from the pandemic - and in particular how businesses in the town can adapt and make the most of the 'new normal' - takes centre stage in this week's Advertiser letters page.

To have your say on any topic of local interest just email your views to editorial@helensburghadvertiser.co.uk, with 'Letter' in the subject line, by 12 noon on Monday.

You can also send your views direct to us via the Send Us Your News section of this website.

Please include your name and address. We also require a daytime contact phone number in case we need to check any details at short notice, though this will not be printed.

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Helensburgh Community Council (HCC) has emerged stronger from the Covid pandemic.

It continues to represent the views of the community across a wide front – from bin collections to a new Vision for Helensburgh and the future of the all- important pier head site. Its regular beach cleans and up-keep of the beds in Colquhoun Square have never stopped. And, new initiatives continue to be launched, such as Music in the Square.

As readers of the Advertiser will know from the regular notes in the paper throughout the last two years, to keep in touch with the local community HCC has embraced Zoom for its regular monthly meetings.

A new innovation for HCC, Zoom offers an interactive discussion platform for webinars on issues impacting on our daily lives, both present and future.

Just finished is a series of webinars on enterprise and entrepreneurship, with the first three talks given by a series of highly qualified figures in the world of business in Helensburgh and beyond.

Vivien Dance: A well-known local business woman, former local councillor and currently chief executive of Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce.

Vivien highlighted the contribution of independent local businesses and retailers in making Helensburgh so attractive to all those taking up the enterprise challenge. They are the backbone of the local economy.

Jen Smith: Business Gateway adviser in Argyll and Bute, offering support services to local businesses.

Through its Local Accelerator Programme, Business Gateway gives specialist advice and assistance in turbo charging the growth of SMEs in the area. Most important is that its support is given 100 per cent from the perspective of the business owner.

Peter Andrew: A professional business consultant with a solid track record in the field of business innovation, with a focus on strategic planning in sales and marketing.

It is, however, the final webinar in the series on which we focus here. It was given on Thursday, March 24 by Professor Eleanor Shaw, associate principal at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, part of University of Strathclyde.

To Professor Shaw, the future will bring in a ‘new normal’: a very different normal from that pre-pandemic. And it will happen quickly.

What Covid has done is to turn the spotlight on key trends defining this new normal and the challenges it brings.

Town centres: Covid saw rapid growth in on-line retailing and has closed big names in city centre high streets.

But, in commuter towns, home working has benefited local businesses, so they are less likely to be threatened from closure.

Town centres involve a lot more than just retail spending. They are also business opportunities where people wish to meet, socialise and network.

The changing world of work: Zoom has changed the work-life balance. Post Covid, people are demanding more flexible work patterns – hybrid working, job sharing, impacted hours – but they come with a negative impact on mental health. For example, 37 per cent of home workers find it hard to switch off and relax.

Wellbeing in the workplace: Employers have to widen their duty of care towards employees beyond T&C. Their mantra must now become: “You Said. We Did”.

Inclusion and diversity: Employees come from a variety of backgrounds offering much more than a pair of hands.

Businesses will gain from engaging with the whole person - their backgrounds, experience, commitment, motivation and loyalties. Together they make for better decisions and are good for business.

Sustainability: Saving the planet is everyone’s responsibility. For employers this means more than just profit. People and planet too must be recognised as core in this brave new world.

This ‘new normal’ demands an entrepreneurial mindset to exploit the opportunities it creates.

Organisations, large and small, and those running them must display leadership that demands innovation and enterprise from its people if they are to take full advantage of the ‘new normal’ and all it has to offer.

For Helensburgh, in our view, this means two things: the first is ‘think local, shop local’, and the second is to say no to out-of-town retail on the pier head site.

Nigel Millar and Tariq Durrani, Helensburgh Community Council

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I’m proud to support Mary’s Meals, a charity which feeds more than two million children in some of the world’s poorest countries every school day.

With spring now upon us, it’s an ideal time for your readers to get active to help Mary’s Meals reach more hungry children.

The Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon is an opportunity to swim, run, kayak and cycle around Loch Tay, Perthshire. Or they could try hiking one of three routes in the Pentland Hills for the Artemis Pentland Peaks Challenge. Readers can also set their own Move for Meals challenge and jog, climb, even disco dance anywhere in the UK to raise funds!

Taking part in these events will help to support Mary’s Meals, allowing it to reach desperately hungry children with the promise of a school meal across 20 countries including Ethiopia, Haiti, South Sudan and Syria.

And with it costing just £15.90 to feed a child with Mary’s Meals for a whole school year, it’s easy for your moves to make a difference.

Mark Beaumont (athlete and broadcaster), for Mary’s Meals