Our Survival Plan
What a very strange Spring 2020 is turning out to be. Instead of enjoying the emerging colours in the garden, going to the occasional car boot sale or a walk along Aldeburgh High Street with a stop at a popular fish & chip establishment, instead we are growing accustomed to queuing for essentials, hopefully in the sunshine and not the shade, as some vicious north easterly winds are still blowing! Life has been changed in so many ways as we all adapt to this new ‘Covid-19’ reality. For us, we have moved the office from Maidstone Hall to our dining room (the commute is much more enjoyable!) and we are able to stay in touch with many of our regular Guests, Volunteers, Donors and Trustees. If you would like a friendly chat, then simply give us a call and we’d be happy to oblige.
For us, we quickly realised we needed to work out exactly how we’d survive this traumatic change to our everyday lives and so more by accident than intentional design we wanted to share our 5-point survival plan:
- Create a structure – As we are still working from home, we quickly worked out the best way to spend our days, keeping work and home sort of separate. So, we are still at our desks (the dining room table!) at 8.30am opening laptops, reading emails, writing reports and all the usual admin associated with leading a local charity. We stop for lunch at 12.30 and go back to the table for any outstanding emails/phone calls that need to be made.
- Vary the Days – When the question was asked ‘exactly what day is it today?’ we knew we had to find ways of marking out the weekend from weekdays! So, Saturday is defined by shopping for elderly relatives and neighbours, then coming home to clean the house. Sunday has become known as ‘pyjama day’ for obvious reasons!
- Exercise – We are so pleased that we can go out for a walk each day, getting into the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine, going in different directions and reminding ourselves of public footpath routes has been amazing. Who knew there was so much building work going on, new walkways created, amazing extensions added or little bridges where kids as big as us can play Pooh Sticks!
- Stay Connected – It has been wonderful to see people step up and volunteer, whether it’s via the local Helping Hands group or the NHS volunteer team. When great grandchildren send a card and pictures to Great Grandma, that means a lot. The use of electronic communication has also been a lifeline, however you manage to do it, please stay connected. Our website features our regular Facebook posts, they can be found on the bottom left of the home page and include short videos and pictures.
- Space – As a loving husband and wife team we have worked out that, in order to survive this experience well, we each need some space, some ‘me time.’ So, from after our afternoon walk and until the government update, we each occupy different rooms! Jigsaw puzzles and reading for one, music for the other. It’s important to work out what works for you, in your environment.
So, there we have it, assuming we take our own advice we, like you, should get through this. Please stay safe, stay well, until we can all meet up again.
Getting the simple stuff - right
When this article was first written (early March) the current crisis we are facing was looming but not yet upon us! So, we had thought to share around the theme of ‘Getting the simple stuff right.’ At that time Hope Trust had a sign on the door sharing information with people as to what to do during this turbulent, worrying time and the first simple step was ‘Wash your hands with hot water & soap for at least 20 seconds.’ So simple, so easy, literally anyone can do it we wrote – but will they? We wrote this because, on a recent trip to Ipswich and a well-known café, at least 3 people left the toilets without washing their hands at all! We ask you, who does that? Especially at a time like this, never mind the threat of Covid 19, what about simple, personal hygiene?
As always, chatting about these careless actions led us to wonder whether, or not, we get the simple stuff right all, or at least, most of the time. It’s easy to be polite, but are we? It’s simple to chat with a neighbour, but will we? It’s easy to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but do we? It’s thoughtful to post kind words on Social Media, but can we be bothered to do that? It’s right to care for the environment, in whatever small way we can, but do we remember to take that bag for life with us? It’s simple to support local shops and businesses, but is it easier not to do that?
Here at Hope Trust we are challenged to get the simple stuff right. To remember people’s names; to answer the phone within 5 rings; to confirm what was talked about when we meet someone for the first time in a follow up letter; to do what we say we will do, in the time frame we’ve talked about; to make sure that someone is always available to open the doors (early) for each and every activity….
And that is where it had to change…….
Following the Government’s advice which has changed things so drastically, here’s our new ending to the article! For the next 12 weeks we are saying that, whilst we (Paul & Sheila) are working from the office, all events are on hold until we are told it’s safe to meet up again. Our challenge remains - what can Hope Trust do for older people between now and then? Well, our Trustees had agreed that we would move to be a friendly voice on the phone, having a regular chat, if folks want us to. We will also seek to offer practical support through this crisis by hlping people work out how to collect prescriptions or shopping. We are facing a real challenge as we have to find new ways of making sure older people don’t get too isolated, but for now, perhaps the first step is to give us a call or check out our website.
As this article is being written, one of us is awaiting communication from our local GP surgery. In this brave new world, the ‘askmygp’ function on their website was used, instead of talking to the receptionist. Why? Well, one of the GP’s spent a good few minutes of the surgery’s answering service telling us this was the quickest way to proceed. So, we decided to embrace the future and try it, and so we wait, and wait, and wait. Now, if we’d rung and been told that the GP/Nurse would ring us back we’d have waited, so why does this feel different? On reflection we’ve decided it’s the personal touch that’s missing. If we’d spoken to a human being, we would know our call had been logged, our concerns noted and we were in the system, this way there is just – nothing. Nothing but hope that the system will work and that communication (and an appointment) will come through.
As we look out into the world around us it seems that more and more of the personal touch is missing. The joy of receiving your bought goods, handed to you in a bag, has been replaced with the service stopping at taking your money. Now we, the customer, have to delve and find our own bag, open it and carefully slide the goods into it while the assistant looks on. Okay, so we refuse to buy plastic bags on principle, but that doesn’t mean we want the personal touch to end so abruptly. It is now possible to walk into a large shop, buy £50 worth of goods and walk out again without anyone in that shop saying, ‘good morning’ or even the dreaded ‘have a nice day!’
It is this lack of the personal touch which should encourage us to support our local independent retailers. Local shops serving local people. It’s also a good reason to look at the work of local charities as they strive to serve their local community. Without a large corporate structure to support, local shops know what their customers will buy; just as small local charities serve in ways that meet the particular need of their local community.
It’s this personal touch that we here at Hope Trust strive to deliver on. We want to know your name; we are willing to learn as much of your story as you want to share. We are happy to make your coffee black, with a dash of cold water in it, just as you like it. We would like to help you move from where you are, closer to where you want to be, if we can. That’s why we offer regular events, because that way you know exactly what’s going on. Whether our weekly Technology Café, Tea & Chat sessions or even the Spring Bereavement Support Group starting on Monday 9th March, we are here for you - Oops, sorry, got to go, the phone is ringing, could it be the Surgery……….?