17 Apr 2020

'Lockdown' - Week 4 - from a front line Support Worker

We chat to Andy Quinn, another of our Support Workers working on the front line.

For the first few days of the lockdown we were isolating as a family already. My wife had shown symptoms and we followed the Government advice, but she soon recovered and the rest of us were 100% fine. It was really frustrating at first not being able to get out and do anything and just having to stay sat at home. I’m working now in the same way as the rest of the team, we’re doing what we can from home and checking in with all our clients regularly, dropping off food and other essentials for those that can’t get out for themselves.

My clients seem to have settled into the new way of doing things really well. I’m lucky that none of them at the minute have any particularly high needs and there aren’t any I’m especially concerned about. It’s really nice when I’m dropping food parcels off for the ones who need them. They are so, so happy and grateful. For a lot of our clients, the contact they have with SmartMove is the only contact they’ll have all day so to be able to speak to them and to see some of them from a distance is really important. When I check in with my clients they all know they can call me if they have any problems and they all understand how difficult things are for us at the moment in terms of the level of support we’re able to offer. It’s frustrating though when there is an issue that we’d normally deal with for a client but at the moment we’re not able to in the same way.

I live quite local to Morrison’s in Halifax and they’ve been fantastic in providing SmartMove with regular food donations, so I go and collect those a few times a week. I’ve been able to make food parcels up out of that and then I deliver to my clients who need them and then drop off at the office for everyone else’s clients. We support a few individuals now at Weavers Brook which was originally built as a care home, but has now been made into apartments. They’ve had problems with their intercom system recently and when you go up there to visit a client they can’t hear you through the intercom and that becomes a huge problem if a client doesn’t have a phone. I’ve connected with the Caretaker there now and he’s been really helpful in sorting out access to the building which has made a huge difference. When we have surplus food I’ve been leaving some there for all the other residents and it’s gone down really well. The Caretaker tells me everybody helps themselves to a small amount, with nobody taking more than they need which is so nice to hear.

A good thing about the situation is the sense of community it’s created. I’ve been able to make links with other agencies and people (like the Caretaker) that I wouldn’t normally have done. I’ve also been working with Noah’s Ark who are doing a truly fantastic job at their food hub. They’re preparing and delivering hundreds of meals for clients and families like the ones we look after, all out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s amazing to see. I’ve collected several meals for clients of ours from them, but I’ve also delivered to other families and they were really grateful for that, but it doesn’t feel like anything compared to what they’re doing up there every day. It’s really great to get round these places and see just how much the community is pulling together. We’ve all seen the Thursday night clap for the NHS and it makes me so proud to see. The real heroes now aren’t the celebrities or the sports stars, it’s the doctors and nurses keeping everybody alive.

At home I have two children aged 11 and 5, and my wife who’s a teacher. My son who’s the elder one is more emotionally intelligent and really appreciates the situation. He’s understanding of the social distancing and just can’t wait to see his friends again and get back to football. My youngest is desperate to get back to school! She can’t wait. We’re all sticking to the government guidelines and I personally haven’t seen anyone whilst out and about who isn’t doing that. When I go to Morrison’s for the food collections, they seem to be really on the ball with everything and people outside are queuing respectfully. I’m very aware when I’m out of how I should be carrying myself and of keeping a safe distance. As long as we can all keep sticking to the rules then we’ll stay safe. None of us know enough about the virus yet and there’s still so much to find out.