21/03/2020 The day the Pubs shut

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I was manning the phones on our staff helpline when news came through that all pubs and restaurants would be closing. To be honest we were all expecting it, even wanted it to happen to try to halt the spread of the virus. But when the news came it shocked me, it added to the already surreal situation we are all facing. Both my boys work part-time in Pubs. Jack my youngest lives at home as up until Thursday he was at college doing his ‘A’ Levels. By yesterday evening he was no longer a student and no longer able to work. Ben my oldest is doing a Music Journalism degree in Manchester, and works in a bar to supplement his student loan to pay his bills. As he has a zero hours contract the bar he works in cannot pay him for his cancelled shifts, therefore he will be coming home, and trying to get a job, maybe in a supermarket or at a hospital. Jack will be doing the same.

So that happened in the afternoon, at 11 am I went into work to do a shift on the help-line. When I got to the hospital there was a queue outside the canteen as staff were collecting their free loaves of bread donated to us by a local bakery. Shift workers at the hospital have been finding it difficult to get hold of bread and other items from the shops as every time they managed to get to the shops many of the shelves were empty. This was definitely a morale booster. But I will air a word of caution, it is difficult at the moment, but not anywhere near as hard as it will be in the future, and it is not just us in the NHS who will be sacrificing a lot over the coming months. So my plea is to be generous and kind to everybody that is providing us all a service over the coming months . Look after our businesses large and small, help all the emergency services and healthcare providers by staying at home, as much as you can, and think about what you can do to help yourself, before access hard pushed services.

The bread donation was lovely as was the other free stuff and discounts offered by companies large and small, but it just added to the strangeness of our lives.

The phone lines did not seem to be as busy yesterday, as they had seemed on Thursday. I spent the day listening and talking to confused, scared, frustrated and sometimes sick people. Sometimes I felt like I had done a good job and allayed people’s fears and gave them the space to work out what they need to do, and then sometimes I felt as if I could not help others.

All day I was in the moment and faced what came my way, at some points I felt comfortable and other points I felt challenged, but I just did it. When I got home it hit me like a wall of fear and sadness, some of it mine, some of what I heard over the day, and some if it I imagined people were feeling. I felt overwhelmed, so I sat on my sofa and just let everything wash over me. Thankfully Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, had just dropped. So I put my headphones on and immersed myself in her warm, comforting voice. She talked about the pandemic and articulated perfectly how it feels and that it is new for all of us, and when we experience newness and uncertainty, it is very difficult, and we can get through by articulating and talking about our emotions. It helped me so much.

When the podcast had finished, I put Let it Be on by The Beatles on spotify and let my emotions wash over me.

Now I chose Let it Be, because my son had sent me a draft of an article he had written reviewing his favourite Beatles album. To be honest that article was a beacon of light in quite a dark day. If I had not read that I would not have thought about listening to the album and then really connecting with the song Let it Be, which is now my soundtrack for this pandemic so thank you so much Ben for helping me connect with my emotions.

So I will sign off with Let it Be.

Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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