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Charity Worker in Lockdown 2

Mum's little helper

Published on 17 May 2020 12:22 PM

New Mum on the Run (and her little helper)

When the UK went into lockdown on the 23rd March 2020, like many others my working life drastically changed. I went from working in a role where I was mostly out in the community across the full borough of North Tyneside to being redeployed into a new area and homeworking.

As a charity we encourage people to get involved in their local community and aim to reduce loneliness and social isolation, however with the UK going into lockdown we needed to change the way we support the older people of North Tyneside. My new role changed to facilitating the recruitment of volunteers to assist with our new Covid-19 support services, which includes our essential shopping service and telephone befriending. In my usual role I work with volunteers daily, but I have never been involved with the recruitment process, so this was all new to me.

Adapting in a new role remotely was a challenge in itself, but what I didn’t factor in was the challenge I would have trying to work full time with a 13 month old who was just starting to learn to walk!

Trying to balance being a mum and a full time job rolled into one has been a challenge that I never thought I would have to experience and was certainly never prepared for! My son usually would be cared for by his grandparents while I was at work, but given the social distancing rules we had to step away from this support to protect our family and ourselves.

While in my redeployed role, I tried to keep as much structure as possible for my family. I was now attempting to balance being there as a parent for my son and working a full time job. My son at his young age still requires a lot of stimulation and support. It has been very challenging and upsetting at times as he does not understand why I cannot play as much with him as I would like to. The time I spent with him was mostly during meal times and general care, but if I was lucky I managed to have a bit of time to play with him.

Not only have I felt guilty for the lack of time and support I can provide my son, I also have struggled with the fact I feel I have not been able to give my all to my role either. This has been made more difficult due to the fact that my role now involved recruiting and processing volunteer applications who would eventually be helping people more in need and vulnerable in the borough and I wanted to get these done as soon as possible. I have found myself working some nights until 10pm and at points over the weekends too.

The experience of homeworking has certainly so far been a rollercoaster of feelings that ranged from guilt and frustration to feeling blessed and humbled by all the generous offers of support our community have been offering for the most vulnerable.

My colleagues have been extremely supportive and understanding of the dilemma and pressures I have faced and I cannot express how grateful I am for that. We are all trying to do our best in these strange times and in often difficult situations and everyone has been keeping each other’s spirits up from afar and supporting each other. I am extremely lucky for that.

I returned to my usual role as Active Age Coordinator in the beginning of May. This is involving planning for our ‘new normal’ and how we can support our customers during this time. This is also taking a lot of careful thought and change as we need to ensure the safety of all involved. My role usually involves encouraging people to keep fit, exercise, attend groups, but this has drastically changed in recent times as we have cancelled all of our groups and classes until further notice as well as other classes and venues being closed.

Returning to my usual role has also involved making welfare calls to customers. It has been lovely talking to people and on the whole most people are coping, but there is the common theme of people missing family and friends, their usual routine and feelings of boredom and frustration. People who are also normally quite social and outgoing are now finding themselves lonely and isolated. I have made referrals into our telephone befriending service, which is doing an amazing job supporting people. When I have been talking with customers they can usually hear my son in the background banging a drum or being quite vocal, but they were all keen to ask about him and how we were all coping too, which I found very heart warming. It also gives us something to talk about other than the current situation and felt like a piece of normality again!

I try and put things into perspective that I am home and safe with my family and there are a lot of people out there, including our own care staff, charity workers and volunteers that are going out every day and risking their lives to support the needs of others and for that all I can say is a huge thank you and that you are doing an amazing job! I have also been able to watch my son take his first steps, which I may have missed. In regards to work I try to remind myself that I have helped towards the bigger picture as best as I can and continue to provide whatever support I can.

That all being said, it is still ok to have bad days and reach out for help, after all we are all in this together and if this pandemic has shown us nothing else, it has certainly shown how caring and supportive we can all be in times of need. I feel there are certainly brighter days ahead and we will all have learned something from our individual experiences and become stronger for it.