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Charity Worker in Lockdown 6

Aimee and shopping

Published on 16 June 2020 06:39 PM

‘It’s cake but not as we know it’

When the Coronavirus Virus caused Age UK North Tyneside to go into lockdown on Monday 23rd March 2020, life as we knew it changed.

As a key worker, I was redeployed from my usual role as a Promoting Independence Coordinator. Instead, to ensure the needs of Age UK North Tyneside customers were met, I became a part of the Essential Shopping Service.

To begin with, I carried out shopping for two of our EveryDay Living Extra Care Schemes; Sandringham Court and Weetslade. To ensure the safety of the residents, staff and myself, I wore PPE. I also kept hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes on me at all times.
One aspect of shopping I found difficult was understanding shopping lists. Some items listed were vague, for example ‘cake’. What kind of cake? Lemon Drizzle? Chocolate? Genoa? So many options! However, over time, I learnt what customers liked, and this made shopping for their individual needs so much easier for me.

Another example that sticks in my mind is when a customer had ‘tea cake’ on their list… it wasn’t until the following week I learnt they meant Warburton’s Fruity Tea Cakes, not the chocolatey ones!

As well as shopping for our Extra Care Schemes, I started supporting community shopping. This involved going to customer’s homes to pick up their shopping list and money.

I always wore PPE and kept at least a 2 metre distance. One thing I enjoyed about community shopping was being able to see the customers face to face. Albeit it was from a distance, but I enjoyed being able to have a chat with them.

The biggest challenge I faced when shopping was other customers. It appeared as soon as people entered the main entrance of a shop, they forgot to follow social distancing rules. Although shops had measures in place such as cleaning stations and one way systems, I was met with a lot of people who lent over me to get an item from a shelf, or who went the opposite way around the one way system.
Shopping for other people is already quite a difficult task, but having people sigh and roll their eyes at me because I’m taking a little while to find an unfamiliar item on a shelf eventually started to take its toll on me. Luckily, all of the customers I shopped for were extremely appreciative and constantly thanked me; this really helped to keep me uplifted and motivated, and the impatient shoppers no longer mattered.

Overall, I did enjoy my time within the Essential Shopping Service. It enabled me to stick to a routine throughout this strange time, and it was very rewarding to be able to support our vulnerable customers.