Welcome 2019 – New year, new challenges

posted in: Business, New Year | 2

In this blog post I am sharing with you my thoughts on last year and my plans for 2019.

Good riddance 2018 – right? If your year wasn’t great – then welcome to the club.

So how was my 2018?

I have to admit a rather mixed bag.  I made the tough decision to become proactive in the face of Brexit and applied first for PR (permanent residency) and following that my hubby and I decided to go the whole hog and I applied for British Citizenship. And before you ask – no, being married to a Brit had no real advantages – the only slight advantage was that I didn’t have to wait another year between granted PR and applying for AN (meaning citizenship)

It has been an enormously stressful time. To give you an overview of what was involved:

For the permanent residency (which you need for AN) I started the process in November. For this I had to trawl through lots of paperwork – pay slips and anything documenting my residency in the UK. What they wanted was 5 years’ worth of proof that I lived here and worked here and paid NI. Luckily, I have kept everything in boxes marked “tax” in our loft. The next step was to choose the time frame I wanted to use. And then fill in the online form. Permanent residency applications cost £65 – but I didn’t want to send my passport with it so had to go to Newport to get it certified and sent to the Home Office. I think that was another £27.

I can’t remember when I sent it away – I think end of January. Surprisingly the wait didn’t take that long and about a month later I got my residency card. For the citizenship I had to provide more details, not only proof of residency, but I also had to prove that I can speak English (I have a MA in English ) and I had to pass a speaking test costing another £150. I also had to pass the dreaded UK Life Test  (£50) (here’s a link if you want to test your knowledge). These tests had to be booked (and I had to wait for a month for each test) which is why it took a while to get everything together to finally send the application off, which I did around May/June. I also had to find 2 referees (who never actually got contacted by the Home Office) and another set of photos which had to be new (so you were not allowed to reuse the ones for the PR application). They also wanted to know how many days I have been absent from the UK (thankfully we rarely travel and could work that out easily) for the last 5 years. I didn’t want to send my original passport so again I had to get it all certified – this time in Cardiff and it took me a long time to actually get an appointment, because they are understaffed and don’t pick up the phone. In the end I walked into their office and asked for an appointment. This cost another £90. The application itself was £1365 (if I remember correctly). Totting it all up I spent about £2000 or slightly over for the privilege.

My stepdad who is a Brit living in Germany got his German citizenship in 2017 and only had to pay 450 Euros and less hassle.

I got my letter from the Home Office in August and had to arrange with Cardiff Council when I wanted to attend the ceremony – if you don’t go – you don’t get your citizenship. The ceremony itself was held in a rather nice-looking building with a group of other new Brits and we had to swear allegiance to Queen and country.

So, as you can see, that was quite a long process with a lot of worries and huge costs. As a British citizen I can finally vote in GE’s and referendums. I am also keeping my German nationality as until the March this year dual citizenship still applies.

The other frustrating thing I and other businesses had to deal with was GDPR. With so much misinformation and scaremongering around I had to do something about this too and to cut the long story short – I lost most of my few subscribers in the process. The winners are all those people who claimed to be experts in the field and lawyers. This law was well intended, but as usual badly executed. There are still many big businesses out who don’t actually comply.

I also attended a few job interviews – as I am looking for a part-time job – which were rather soul destroying.

I think ongoing austerity and Brexit scare had a huge impact on a lot of small businesses, mine included. Sales were definitely down last year, which brings me to my plans for this year.

Unicorn sculpture Eunice
Unicorn sculpture Eunice

My plans for 2019:

  1. Find a part-time job which doesn’t pay peanuts and is enjoyable.
  2. Work more with silver clay – I have the kiln, but so far have only used my copper clay. You can find my copper clay pieces here.
  3. Find retail outlets for my jewellery and sculptures – for this I actually bought a course by Indie Retail Academy, which helps with things like line sheets and T&C’s. So that is a useful resource to have. If you are a shop or gallery owner who would like to stock my products – please feel free to contact me here.
  4. Grow my YouTube channel. Years ago, I started to make a few short videos for YouTube, but I didn’t really do much with the channel. However, some of my how-to videos had lots of views – one about how to take your pasta machine apart got 40K views, so I thought maybe I should do this more frequently and generate a passive income! I found the video process rather daunting. My first videos were filmed by my husband using my old Canon PowerShot camera and then painstakingly edited by me using MovieMaker. My new laptop hasn’t got that program as Microsoft has discontinued it. So, my first step was to find an easy to use editing program. I bought the Magix Video Editor Pro for this purpose. I also found out that you can use your smartphone to get decent results. I also found a lot of useful YouTube channels showing me how to create videos and build your channel. So now I am planning content and have to learn how to use the new editing program. I plan to show short how to videos on polymer clay and other mediums, tools I use, reviews of craft products and also showcase my own work.
  5. I have a lot of unfinished projects to complete -mostly involving sanding and polishing. Which is why I keep postponing it – I hate sanding and polishing!
  6. Work on new designs and make use of tutorials I bought a while ago.
  7. Going on a relaxing holiday!!
  8. Continuing with my painting and drawing. I am still a member of ArtTutor and aim to paint in my free time. Though quite tough and stressful at times I really enjoyed Inktober and might do this again this year.

And that’s it – my review of last year and my plans for 2019.

I hope you found this post interesting. What are your plans for this year? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want regular updates from me – make sure to subscribe here.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

Helen x

2 Responses

  1. Julie Harrison-Carroll
    | Reply

    Citizenship is so expensive, my daughter in law who is Japanese had to go through it aswell a few years ago. Good luck with the job hunting, I hope you find some thing soon.
    Here’s wishing 2019 better for us both.

    • Helen White
      | Reply

      Thank you for your comment Julie. Here’s hoping for better times 🙂

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