How things have changed!
Day to day working is now all from home consisting of a lot of virtual meetings. The experience was strange at first but it feels so normal now. The virtual meetings have been a blessing and a nice form of social interaction with my team. Similarly, with the People’s Board, we are now all meeting virtually too. It’s nice to see friendly faces and keep our meetings going. The meetings are different but it’s a nice way of checking in and updating each other. We also make sure we are updated with the correct local news that we can share with our networks (like this newsletter).
Working remotely has its challenges too, especially engaging with new groups of young people as the initial relationship building process is now very different due to other family members being in the background and there are more distractions in some cases. Being able to read body language and getting a sense of the room isn’t always easy via a web cam or a telephone call.
Many things have changed but a lot of support has been in place too over the past few months. This has ranged from specialist care and help to friends and family just checking in or asking if we need things when they go shopping. It’s been nice to remember and see all the support and people that are in your lives. Before lockdown, like many others, my life was fast paced, working all hours and cramming so much into my life. As things came to a halt, certain aspects of my life have slowed down too and it’s been nice to relax and I mean relax without any pressures.
I think this period of change will definitely impact everyone in different ways but in very similar ways too. Change is a constant part of life we can always depend on being there. As things are constantly changing, sometimes it’s just more prominent like a pandemic. Sometimes it’s just subtle like a car driving by and by the time you’ve read to the end of this sentence, will have passed by, changing its location and view.
Co-Vice Chair, People’s Board
An Optimistic Perspective on the Lockdown
Same as nearly everyone else, the lockdown has had a major impact and disruption on my everyday life, which has necessitated the need for much personal adjustment and adaptation. For example, every day of the week, I would either have going dancing, swimming, the gym as well as meeting up with family and friends. There have been additional pressure factors that have increased my vulnerabilities, I’m a keyworker, from the BAME community, with underlying health conditions (such as asthma). I’m able to appreciate the essential need to follow the medical, scientific and social evidence/facts in order to beat the virus, despite being disproportionately impacted by the measures. Hopefully by sharing a few of my personal experiences and observations, it will help you to plan towards a better future to come.
Social Distancing (SD) has been particularly challenging, in spite of my underlying health conditions, and work commitments, I still need to take full responsibility for managing my weight, diet, health and exercise. By finding new and creative ways of exercising and socialising (e.g. participating in online social events) it has helped me to stay positive and strengthens my immune, respiratory and cardio systems, should I become inflicted by the virus – excuses don’t help. My approach to life has raised much interest but I do get tired of people asking me ‘how do you do it?’ because they usually react as though it’s easier said than done – but that’s exactly it! Words alone are never enough, however the costs of not doing it are far greater than the initial effort required – you can’t expect to live long or well on excuses – you can’t cheat your own body that easily! It was an amazing and surreal experience to witness the major financial investment in the NHS and to participate in the nation’s weekly clap for carers. My personal ongoing commitment is not to be a contributory factor in returning these same frontline workers back to a position where they’re overwhelmed by dealing with preventable or avoidable conditions.
As human beings, this worldwide pandemic should make us more self-conscious of the importance of our roles and responsibilities in society. The lockdown and SD creates ideal time for honest, critical self-reflection which should lead us to a place where we can recognise many of the severe problems that have continued to worsen, causing a local and global health and social crisis, which in turn reduces the ability to beat the virus and other longstanding problems. There is an overriding focus on restarting the economy, a strong economy is needed for any country to thrive. However, an economy needs to work in the interest of everyone, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Increasing: health & social inequalities, poverty, pollution, discrimination, over-consumption, placing profit before people and the planet, were all permanent features of our economy, significantly contributing to global instability, pushing the environment beyond a point of no return. Similar to the rest of the attendees of the People’s Board (PB) Meetings, I’m also appalled at the merciless killing of George Floyd, but not shocked, as these events have continued happening for far too often on both sides of the Atlantic. Whatever the reasons made, it’s inexcusable.
It was a pleasure to have Sasha Bhat (Head of commissioning at NHS Bradford) return to provide and update on young people’s mental health. Sue Crowe (Bradford Talking Media) presented her intentions to form a board (similar to the NHS People’s Board), comprised of people with various disabilities, to represent their interests health and social care matters. As we’re looking forward to the lockdown restrictions being eased, the Social Worker in me is intrigued to see how people will make the best use of this opportunity – there have been many positives, not just negatives to SD. The lockdown and SD has protected both children and adults from being exposed to dangerous people and harmful social activities (the national crime level has significantly fallen). Unfortunately, for some it has meant prolonged confinement with their abuser. If there’s a silver lining to come from this period of isolation, I would hope that these are 2 of the significant features.
Firstly, abusers have become more easily identified and quickly apprehended by a safeguarding organisation with the duties or powers to intervene. Poor actions and inactions has a disproportionate effect on children and other much more vulnerable groups. Thus, parents and carers will also play their part by using their initiative and wisdom, based on known risk and protective factors, to take advantage of opportunities such as the ‘bubble-up’, as they begin rebuilding their friend and family networks. Secondly, as a nation, we start regarding the true measure of decency, as how well we’re able to relate and empathise with the everyday exclusion experienced by people with physical or learning disabilities, or disfigurements. In addition to having to deal with their own impairments, these are heavily compounded by frequently having to contend with the assumptions, anxiety, stigma, exploitation and abuse from the public. If this is a bit too close to home for most people, maybe an alternative is to be considerate and compassionate of the destitution and isolation millions of families living or fleeing war torn regions in the world need to endure. It’s what is true that needs to count the most.