COMM/ON 18, an event exploring the issue of mental health amongst freelance workers, will take place on Wednesday 14 March from 2pm – 5pm at the Black Box in Belfast as part of Imagine, the Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics.
Founded by Adam Turkington from Seedhead Arts, a freelancer himself, the first COMM/ON event took place in March 2017. Turkington explains:
'While there are numerous advantages to working as a freelancer such as greater flexibility and control over the work you do, there are obvious downsides too such as lack of security and isolation, which can have a negative impact on mental health.
'The aim of COMM/ON is to bring freelancers of all backgrounds – artists, bakers, tailors, brewers, designers, baristas, entertainers, etc. – together in one space to share their experiences, support each other, network and collaborate. Our hope for COMM/ON is that it will start a conversation which improves the working lives of freelancers and celebrates the contribution that they make to society.'
According to a recent report from the Office for National Statistics, '...the rapid growth of self-employment has been a pronounced feature of the UK labour market in recent years. The number of self-employed increased from 3.3 million people (12.0% of the labour force) in 2001 to 4.8 million (15.1% of the labour force) in 2017.'
Speaking to Culture Northern Ireland ahead of last year's inaugural edition, Turkington acknowledged the change in the working landscape. 'There’s been a huge spike in freelancing,' he said. 'People are leaving jobs, following their dreams and doing what they love – paying the bills and being successful.'
COMM/ON 18 will feature a range of mental health professionals and researchers who will be looking at the mental health issues that affect freelancers in particular and what can be done to address them.
COMM/ON 18 is free and open to all freelance workers, but places are limited so please register in advance – click here for tickets or search 'COMM/ON 18' on Facebook to find out more.