I have been the driver of our bus for many years keeping it on the road, maintaining it and ensuring it arrives on time. Sometimes the route is interrupted by road blocks, sometimes we have to stop for fuel and sometimes we have to park it up for a bit of TLC, but it always progresses on it’s journey and does its best to get to the destination
The harsh reality of running a charity that supports vulnerable families amid COVID-19 means that every day our priorities are having to change and we are forced to not only look at the survival of our charity, but moreover the survival of our service so that families affected by childhood acquired brain injury can receive the vital support they need.
Over the past month our bus has faced a number of new obstacles that have meant we have moved to a virtual service. We have watched as new issues emerged that none of us could foresee which has been at times a challenging and very stressful experience. I have been emotionally drained, tired and proud all at the same time. It’s been an amazing experience I have watched my team adapt to the new ‘normal’ of homeworking whilst juggling childcare, home-schooling, dog/pet care and coping with the isolation of not seeing colleagues, families and professionals. For me, I have welcomed the change of being at home as it has meant that I have for once had an opportunity to be still and to appreciate all that I have around me. It has meant changing my routine and structure and not being away from home. I haven’t had to deal with home schooling and as I have an underlying health issue, I haven’t had to go and join the long queues at the supermarket. So by staying at home and working I am doing what I can.
Whilst we are social distancing and staying at home our charity has had to adapt quickly to the ever changing situation and consider not only the short term needs of families, but also the longer needs which can be anything from fears of children returning to school, returning to work and every day activities, to coping with the financial strain that many families are having to deal with. We are also coping with early discharges from hospitals and the lack of any real community support when they get there. Unfortunately, we are also dealing with family loss and heartache, more home injuries and of course helping families cope with isolation.
Although there have also been moments of hilarity which have usually been at my own expense. For example when I think the video has been turned off after a meeting and my daughter has casually walked in to my office (currently my dining room) and has said something very inappropriate or when my co-worker Poppy (our dog) leisurely jumps on my lap during an important funder call. There has also been what I will call from now on ‘orange hair gate’ when I thought it would be a good idea to touch my roots up! please do not use box dye when you have absolutely no experience of dying your hair and leave it on longer than the recommended time (because that’s what they do in the hairdressers!!) and you end up looking like a ‘sunflower’!
If I have to sum up my current experience, I would simply say that the pleasure and the pain are equal, in as much as this situation is horrid on a macro level and the pain that everyone is going through whether they are directly affected or by just staying at home is really hard and really difficult. Some days are great, usually when the sun is out and other days, I am in a shear state of panic as everything is out of my control and it’s scary.
My whole team have been amazing. I have had to furlough some of them, but they are helping us more than they realise. The furlough system is harsh, it’s not a holiday and I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s an easy option, because it isn’t. There is fear attached to it from all angles and many will continue to feel fear until they know the date they will return. My job is making sure that when they come back to their workplace it is in a stable position and we can continue to pick up where we fully left off in March. For those of us who are left working there is the continued worry of staying well, managing workloads, time management, resilience and making sure we are planning to cope with what lies ahead.
We have not launched an emergency appeal, nor have we tried to create a specific fundraising campaign, but unsurprisingly our loyal and much-loved supporters have continued to show their support and have stepped up to help us. Many supporters have offered help, many have sent reassuring messaging and we know that we will be back stronger than ever once the restrictions have been lifted.
I’m not going to say it’s been easy or that the future will be easy, but in charity we are used to this, it’s never easy, we rise to challenges with integrity, love and with positive energy. We have a purpose and it drives us in all that we do.
So the bus is very much on the road, it’s a different road and we are practicing social distancing on the bus. Please remember we are here to serve, and our bus is traveling (virtually) to all those that need us whether you are a family, a professional or a supporter of ours. Ding Ding any more fares please ….
20th April 2020