Ben Loke

Melbourne, Australia

Hi from Melbourne.

My name is Ben Loke and I graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Design in 1996 and have spent the past 25 years working with organisations, brands and events such as Peter Mac, The Royal Children’s and Women’s Hospitals, Hoyts, The Trading Post and the Australian Open. Most recently I finally took the plunge to run my own company Bloke Design full-time, helping businesses to develop their brand stories, improve their user experiences and design visually beautiful interfaces for their digital applications.

I had literally been up and running for 6 months when COVID struck in March and lost my largest client. With all the uncertainties it made me quite anxious about what my other clients were going to do as we went into lockdown.

After a few weeks though things settled down and I began to receive great news that my other clients were going to stay on board. I also began picking up new business as companies took the opportunity to improve their brand image and user experience in a time where digital became crucial for survival. This time allowed me to do some pro-bono work creating @lockdown_local on Instagram to help promote local sustainable small businesses, B Corps and social enterprises.

In mid-June the Victorian Government eased restrictions only for it to last a short few weeks before we were put under a harsher lockdown with an 8pm to 5am curfew, 5km travel circle and 1 hour exercise limit per day. This is when I set myself a challenge to explore every street in my 5km radius, 1 hour a day on bike and on foot as a way to turn the lockdown into a positive experience. It took 68 days, 74 hours and 1,731kms to complete and was a way to keep me fit, motivated and for me to explore my local surrounds. My story has since spread across social media, news & radio, locally and internationally, and I’ve received so many messages of encouragement, including inspiring others to do the same as many cities across the UK head back into lockdown.

BBC put together a video of my lockdown journey here

Today (October 26) was exciting for all Melburnians as we received news that our 15 gruelling weeks of lockdown was ending. I hope that as we now take the first steps to a long recovery that people will explore, enjoy and support their local businesses.

Image: Me and my bike in one of my local streets