We are so grateful to our all our colleagues who have done everything they can to ensure people are supported and able to stay well. Over the last year, our support workers were always on hand to enabling people to stay safe, maintain communication with families and come up with innovative ways to support people to live the life they want.
These four stories represent the experiences of many of our support workers who went above and beyond over the last year.
Jawhara Albakri found time to get to know the people she supports on a deeper level.
“The support team really pulled together with many of us travelling by train into work throughout the pandemic. This isn’t just a job to us and so when people couldn’t see their own families, we made sure we were there for them. Although the pandemic was difficult, once people we support understood what was happening, and why, we all adjusted to a new kind of routine quite quickly. As colleges, community centres, shops and cafes shut, the opportunity to leave the house became very limited, however, rather than causing frustration, the house became very calm. It seemed that for people this break from the regular schedule of life provided more time to get creative and discover new interests like baking, gardening and art. As you can see from the pictures the progress that’s been made in baking has been incredible – we definitely discovered some hidden talents!”
For support worker Lydienne Ako, COVID-19 meant a transition to a new kind of routine for the people she supports.
“A young person we support found it very frustrating to have his routine disrupted by the pandemic. He usually enjoys going to college Monday to Friday so as well as the change in structure, he found it difficult having his independence curbed. That said, once all his lessons went online, despite this new and different routine he adjusted really well to it. It affected friends and family too. A lady we support was used to going out every weekend with her friend to the shops or for afternoon tea, so she really missed that. However, as soon as the coffee shops were back open for takeaways, she got herself back out into the world and found new ways to enjoy a cup of tea. We made the best of it with loads of arts and crafts, and we got quite good at basket weaving, jewellery making and painting. We also embraced digital technology and people we support soon discovered the fun of YouTube!”
A change to day-to-day life
Ronald Cole says not being able to see family was hard on the people he supports.
“It was very stressful at the start of the pandemic and perhaps the most challenging thing for people we support was not being able to have visits from, or go out with, families and friends. We did our best with phone calls and video calls, but people we support enjoy close relationships with family and friends outside their house, so it was difficult when all that interaction was stopped by government guidelines. Having said that, I was surprised by how everyone settled into a new kind of routine once we all got used to the changes. We made the most of all the Connect & Do activities and people really got into art projects and yoga online. We also did lots of singing, dancing and puzzles in the house and made the most of the garden – growing vegetables and keeping everything watered.”
For Guy Kennett, the strange experience of working through the entire pandemic required a continuous need to adjust to change.
“It was quite surreal when everything stopped so suddenly. I continued to travel by train and tube into work and in the early days they were so empty, it felt almost post-apocalyptic. The five people I support are usually out of the house, almost on a daily basis doing different things. To suddenly find ourselves restricted to staying inside with nowhere to go, was very different. In those first three to six months people coped fantastically well, making the best of online activities with The Gate and we began to take regular daily walks. When we went into lockdown again over Christmas it was tough, but we found a way through it and had fun. People are definitely taking the lead more now in the running of their own house.”