What can I say. I am like a magpie and see a lot of things and share vignettes on social media, often my personal private accounts. It's time for me to share publicly. So here goes. 



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The office

Posted on 27th September, 2021


Walking down Mansell Street to the office, I battled in my mind the temptation to go into Pret A Manger for a coffee. It wasn’t so much a fight in my head about catching COVID, it was more the cost of a coffee and the calories of it. During lockdown, I had not only, like many, overeaten but I had been quite sedentary due to infections. These had resulted in me putting on a lot of weight. It was now time to control the diet and get active as much as possible to lose the weight. Movement is quite difficult now, stiffness, pain and breathlessness, make walking uncomfortable and slow. So, I decided against popping into Pret, and thought to myself ‘I can make myself a cup of tea in the kitchen at the office’. 


These distracting thoughts meant I was at the office entrance in no time. I put my mask on, entered the building through the open doors and walked up to the reception desk. ‘Morning’ I said with a smile – could the person I was talking to on reception see my smile from my eyes, I hoped so. We shared chit chat and I gave my name and was given my pass to the office floor. I walked to the lift, pressed the button, scanned the pass and waited for the elevator to take me to the office. For some reason, it felt like I hadn’t been away, and I had just been to the office the day before. Exiting the lift, I made my way to the facial scanner. It scanned my face and loudly told me my temperature was okay, I moved my head and then thought, mmm do I need to enter details of who I am? By moving my head, I placed it back in the scanner area, and it scanned me again and shouted out that my temperature was fine. Oh goodness, how do I get it to stop! Where do I go now! The text around me on signs telling me what to do, all became blurred. Anxiety was setting in. Kiu Kiu, Executive Assistant to COO came to my rescue. Kiu Kiu had been helping me get ready to come into the office, and had booked in a car park space for my partner/carer for when he came to pick me up later that day to take me home.


So lovely to meet you in the flesh Kiu Kiu, and you too, we warmly said to each other and I was directed to my designated desk space. I spotted Petra, Head of Volunteering, my new manager, on a desk behind the one I was going to sit on. Hi we both said and Petra stood up to come to introduce herself. We had chatted so much on TEAMS but never actually met either and Petra had come to the office from Liverpool. It was so nice to meet her. We didn’t shake hands, but stood socially distanced from each other and Petra introduced me to some others members of our team who were in the office that day.


Well now, you have to remember I hadn’t seen anybody for a long time, so when I met Petra and Jane, EA to Director of Services and Jess and Eluned, job share Head of Health Advice, I just babbled away about my experience of my journey in (captured in vignette one and two). After my verbal diarrhoea Kiu Kiu kindly helped me set up my computer, and I settled in, went to the kitchen made a cup of tea following the COVID secure guidelines, and settled down to work. I had a meeting scheduled with my new manager in the afternoon, so worked away at my desk, went to the kitchen and ate my packed lunch and then boom it was time for a lovely one to one with Petra. We had a really good planning and scoping meeting and a general chin wag – it was so nice to have some bonding time.


To conclude, I’d like to say that for me, it might not for you, hybrid working works. Being an Extremely Clinically Vulnerable person, each day I assess my risk when going out and about. Going to work by commuting and being around people increases my risk of any infection. It is not just COVID that is a risk, it is colds and flu and pneumonia too, these can land me in hospital. Being able to work from home and go into the office once a month means I can have a good work balance and manage my chronic conditions so I can work. Working from home, I chat to my colleagues every day. One thing I love about my role is that I work across the organisation so I get to chat to lots of people and this can be done face to face or over TEAMS. I am very happy working at home or in the office and I am not as scared now to go into the office!

The journey to the office part 2

Posted on 17th September, 2021

The journey


I scanned my Freedom Pass over the scanner on the barriers and the gates opened – phew, I wasn’t sure if it would still work. I started hobbling to the platform. It felt like I had never been away. But, then something stopped me in my tracks. A loud speaker was blaring out from the machine next to the barrier, the place where the guard stood …’the woman in the green and orange dress and with the green rucksack’. That’s me. I panickily stopped, and my first reaction was to check if my dress was tucked in my knickers – don’t laugh, but it’s hard not to isn’t it! I looked at the guard, do I need to do anything I asked? She looked away from me and just turned the speaker down. Anxiety rose, but because the guard ignored me, I started to walk to the platform again. Paranoid and checking my back constantly with my hands – for sure my dress was all okay and there was nothing dropping out of my bag.

I walked down the steps to the platform and held tightly on to the bannister to help guide me down. I kept thinking to myself, I am going to get stopped soon by the guards, so I looked around me, scanning their movements. The train platform was quiet. I had 10 minutes to wait for a train. The waiting room was open and there was one person in there, he was wearing a mask. I made my way in, the door was wedged open, and sat opposite and away from the other human in the room. I got out my bacterial spray and sprayed my hands. The normality of all of this, the masks, the hand spray, made me feel sad. I don’t know why. Maybe that will come to the forefront of my mind one day.


The digital clock on the platform ticked away. I rose stiffly and awkwardly out of the seat, about 5 minutes before my train was due. I made my way to the usual standing point, I used to commute a lot and knew where to stand so that the doors would be in front of me when the train stopped. People were starting to appear on the platform, not magically [laughs] but you know what I mean. Masks were being put on. People were keeping their distance. I didn’t feel anxious. The train arrived and I stepped on to a nearly empty carriage. Out of force of habit, I went right. I sat in a four seater, alone. A lady sat across on the other side of the aisle, mask on, newspaper spread out in the chair in front of her. She was busy into a crossword. Anxiety decreased. And off the train chugged.


What can I say, the train journey was overland, and took an extra 10 minutes because we were delayed approaching a station. And, the journey wasn’t spectacular. People got on and off the train and we passed sites I had viewed many times before, well I tell a lie here, because since my last commute many towers have gone up alongside the trainline, filled with the homes of people. It was nice to see life and have a little nosey into their lives by analysing the objects on their balconies and windowsills.


We arrived at the final destination. Now, here I had a choice to make. It’s a choice that I think many of us are facing each day. We are constantly assessing our risk factor of catching COVID in everything that we do. My consultants want me to rarely use public transport, and now I had the option of getting on to the tube, for 8 minutes, to get to my final destination. So, I was facing a dilemma, remembering concerned voices from my GP and consultants about transport and having shielded for so long, did I risk getting on to a tube for a short space of time? I decided to go and see how the tubes looked, how busy they were. My walk from one platform to another was really hard, for my limbs and for my chest. Goodness me, how unfit and unwell have I become, I grumbled to myself. I got to the tube platform, my train came, it wasn’t busy, there was a place to sit for the short distance and not be next to anyone. I sat. The tube started its journey. I looked around. Lots of people without masks. Anxiety rose. I sprayed my hands. I arrived at my station and with a sigh of a relief I got off. I was exhausted. My body ached and felt heavy, and my lymphoedema legs were stiff. It was now time to get out of the station and do the short walk to the office. What would it be like in the office, we’ll soon know!




The journey into the office

Posted on 15th September, 2021

Here's the first of three vignettes, capturing my journey to the office (once a month) after shielding for a long period of time. They are sharing short insights into my physical and emotional journey. I hope you enjoy them and there is something to take away.


The preparation


First train journey into the office, in over two years. Well, it felt like I hadn’t stopped commuting. The day felt like the first day being back at school. The evening before, I ironed my dress and trousers ready for the morning. The day came round quick, I slept well and hard the evening before ‘the start of term’. I arose, early as usual. 5.45am to be exact. My usual morning routine, that I had set up with my cats wasn’t interrupted. I prepared their breakfast first; I must get my priorities right in the household [laughs]. Then I set about making a pot of coffee, and my bowl of cereal. I sat at the dining room table and drank the caffeine with eagerness and food with the morning steroid hunger I have and scanned my emails and the news on my phone. Then it was the daily am medication consumption. Next stop, the sofa for some junk TV before fully waking up.


The TV screen sluggishly came on, and I scrolled through the programmes I had taped – okay, I know we don’t record anymore on VHS cassette, but they are still recordings on the hard drive and can be described as being taped, can’t they? [laughs]. Ah ah! GP Behind Closed Doors was on last night, let’s watch that I thought. I pressed play. The time ticked away. Oh, I had better do my lateral flow test I reminded myself. This test was a weird one, it asked you to only stick swabs up your nose, they usually ask for swabs from the nose and throat – goodness I never thought something like testing for viruses would become part of a daily routine. Test completed, results all clear, no COVID so it’s okay for me to start to get ready for the commute into work.


I showered and dressed and packed my bag. My partner made me a pack lunch. Well, it was now ready to start the journey to the office. I live on the other side of London from the office and it can take 2 hours or longer, depending on traffic, transport delays etc. An hour and a half on public transport is a good journey. My partner drove me to the train station. I entered the station with apprehension. I had put on my mask and found my travel card and walked into the station slowly and stiffly; was my body going to cope with the physical element of walking between platforms and to the office from the tube station at the other end – well we were about to find out!


This is written in my voice and may not be grammatically correct.











Christmas past

Posted on 17th December, 2020
School would finish and I would make my way home. Catch the bus and walk through the farmyard and banking until I got to our estate (this was a council one not a private one giggle).


The sky would be blue with the colours of dusk. I'd walk down our street. 
There would be a twinkle from our living room window. 
My stomach would bubble with excitement. The Christmas tree is up. Christmas is coming.


Christmas morning would be a full and busy affair. My sister and me would get up early, after me waking her and persuading her to get up.
We'd go downstairs when mum said we were allowed to and open our presents.
The presents would be separated one for my sister and one for me.
We'd open them and then get ready to talk about who got us what to the visits that would start after breakfast.
Our neighbour, my aunties, my grandma, mum and dad's friends would all visit. It was a busy day.


After we'd had lunch with Grandma, we'd pop next door to my aunties. If me and my sister were lucky we'd have a babycham and lemonade or a snowball as a Christmas treat. We loved our auntie. Her home was our second home. Happy Christmas auntie.
a lady sat in a chair, a child next to her, both smiling to the camera. both with glasses in hands. Christmas cards on hanging not the wall behind.