Helping Out During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rachel with Erica and Peter from her cardiac group (taken before coronavirus)It is six months since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown and it has certainly been a challenging time for everyone. We’ve all been doing what we can to stay positive but people have found their normal lives turned upside down. It’s even changed the way a lot of people work, with many adapting and embracing new ways and technology.

Well this is the story of Rachel from Oldham who works for Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) and had been furloughed from her role as a specialist fitness instructor. Now Rachel is back at work and  offers online classes but during her furlough, Rachel wanted to do something extra to help the local community and put herself forward as a volunteer to help during the pandemic.

About Rachel’s experience:

“When all this started with COVID-19, my husband and I were actually on holiday in Mexico, so when the UK went into lockdown, we heard about the announcement from there. We spent time watching the news and not quite believing what was happening at home. We still managed to have a lovely holiday for 12 days and then we were flown back to Gatwick as there were no more flights back to Manchester.

“While we were away we decided to follow the guidelines that the UK were following at that time, even though they had not been brought in where we were. We kept ourselves to ourselves which wasn’t difficult really as so many people had cancelled, or had their holidays cancelled, the hotel was very quiet, making it easy to socially distance from others.

“When we got back many people had already put themselves forward as volunteers to help the NHS and I felt like I’d missed the boat a bit with this. But we received a staff email from our Chief Executive Stuart asking if anyone wanted to help and volunteer for Oldham Cares, so I jumped at the chance and emailed him straight back.

“At OLC I am a specialist exercise instructor and am passionate about working with vulnerable people. I know it’s been difficult for people, lots of my customers that come to my classes, it’s often their only chance to socialise with other people and I wanted to help people in a similar situation.

“So I put my name forward and was asked to help a lady out who was in her 80s and had been told by her GP she needed to go to Royal Oldham Hospital for an urgent scan. The lady had family but not close by at the time with access to a vehicle to get her to her appointment. She needed to be seen the next day and of course I was happy to help. It was arranged for me to drive to the ladies house, pick her up and walk her/ support her to her appointment. When I got to the ladies house her young grandson was there as he had wanted to be with his grandma, so I drove them both to the hospital and made sure she was in the right place for her appointment.

“I have to say I was very impressed at how helpful and organised everything was at the hospital. The scan took a few hours so rather than waiting, I asked them to let me know when the scan was finished so I could pick them up and drop them back off at home. They let me know the scan was complete but said they would get a taxi home; they just wanted to be sure they got to the appointment in time, so didn’t want to rely on a taxi. Very understandable, it can be stressful enough going for scans etc. without worrying if your taxi is going to turn up.

“I was pleased to hear that the ladies results came back fine and nothing to worry about. I’ve carried on volunteering where I can, I do some shopping for my customers, take some of them to appointments, that sort of thing and I am always happy to help out.”

Thank you Rachel for putting your name forward to help, it’s really appreciated.