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Sheila’s story: helping during a pandemic

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Sheila is a Pastoral Worker at The Hope Trust. Here she shares what life has been like during the pandemic.

Hope Trust in Felixstowe works with people aged 50+. As a local charity we were bowling along quite happily: numbers were growing, people were giving us great feedback, plans for doing things even better were in hand. Usually guests would meet socially in a variety of settings. However, Covid-19 brought a halt to all that. The office was closed, phone calls had to replace 1:1 visits, cards, letters and emails replaced a friendly smile and understanding glances, Zoom meetings kept us in touch with volunteers, and funerals were led under Covid-19 restrictions.

For the guests, all the usual activities in the diary upon which they could depend were swept away. Now life was to be lived in a very restricted way.

When someone shares with you ‘I live alone, my family can’t come to visit me and I have no pets – because of all that I haven’t touched a living thing in 12 weeks’, you understand clearly that lives have been affected through this pandemic.

As staff, this abrupt change, along with our own concerns about the virus, added to the challenges we faced. When would we open? Could we open safely? Would people come back and join us? These thoughts consumed us.

But we’ve been able do something. ‘It’s nice to know that someone cares’, we’ve been told. And – well – we’ve re-opened. People are coming along, just a few in the first week but we hope the confidence of others will grow, allowing them to, once again, benefit from getting together.

After all, we have a short Summer/early Autumn window to enjoy before queuing for entry becomes less appealing!