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Supporting People During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Supporting People During the Coronavirus Pandemic

A Counsellor Tells Their Story

Itís hard to find words of comfort when so many people are experiencing uncertainty, isolation and separation. The freedom to come and go at will has been cut off, and for many of our service-users, this has added another dimension of difficulty. Itís not simply a case of Ďstaying homeí Ė itís being cut off from visitors, healthcare workers and carers. There are no appointments to attend, and in some cases, treatment has been postponed and scans and consultations have been delayed. Family members are having to stay away, and for many loneliness has become a daily issue to contend with. Some of our service-users are living with a terminal illness, so finding meaning and purpose in what time they have is important.

At The Sara Lee Trust, we are working hard to keep as many of our resources available to our service-users as possible. Itís important that we safeguard everyone we work with and adhere to Public Health Englandís guidance on social distancing, and we are working from home where we can. Some of our work, such as our counselling service, has successfully transferred to other means of delivery. As we cannot meet face to face, we are contacting all our service-users and offering to continue counselling by telephone or over the internet through secure video calling. This means our service-users can continue to talk to us, and see us if they choose. Continuing this service has been met with much appreciation and thanks. It has allowed up to keep working with some of our most vulnerable and isolated service-users, and for them to feel valued and hopeful during a difficult time.

Our counselling service is more important now than ever because many of our services have been stopped. The great work our complimentary therapists deliver, such as massage, aromatherapy and Reiki cannot be offered at the moment, so increasing the services we can offer has been vital. The need for our services continues to grow, and as professionals we meet that need with empathy, commitment and enthusiasm.

There are some challenges to working in this new way; sometimes internet connections fail or software isnít updated to meet the new applications that are required. But we are learning as we go along, and we are helping anyone who is new to technology to understand its functionality and scope.

In addition to counselling, we are running mindfulness and yoga groups by Zoom. These services have been popular and mean service-users can join a group and feel connected to others, while also benefiting from being taken through a mindful practice or retaining their fitness levels through yoga. As our period of social distancing continues, we will focus on these areas of wellbeing for our service-users and look at what other ways we can support people through online communication.

The diagnosis of a life-threatening condition doesnít stop to accommodate Coronavirus, and many people are still being referred to us. We want to offer them the same support that our existing service-users enjoy and we are shaping our services to meet each personís needs. Adjusting to a new way of communication and connection may take a little time, but until we are through this current period of isolation, we want to make it as focused and supportive as possible. We have found that engaging with technology is becoming more familiar for many people and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue to deliver the essential work that the Trust has been carrying out for 24 years. We are confident we can successfully meet the challenges of the next few months and return to a full service delivery later in the year.

Thank you for being there The Sara Lee Trust. You truly were, and still are, a hand to hold during such a difficult time of my life!

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