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Juno's August Blog 2020

As we sizzle our way through August there are storms ahead and I don’t just mean the weather.

School staff who should be kicking back for a least a couple of weeks and getting some much needed rest and relaxation are furrowing their brows over how to bubble their children safely and how many people can fit in a standard classroom with social distancing. Not to mention how to patch up the holes in what were well-planned curriculums.

Years 11 and 13 are wondering what on earth will happen with their exam results – will they become known forever as ‘the class of 2020’ with all of the dark COVID-connotation that holds? Will future universities and employers understand what it took to be a teenager throughout the last 20 weeks and cut them some slack?

Furlough will come to an end in the autumn and we are getting close enough now for redundancy to feel like an ominous reality for some people in some professions.

The R rate is not dropping substantially and the winter may bring on further cases or even an escalation of the usual seasonal flu impacting our health services.

And folk are tired.

However – (‘cheer up ‘Olly’ock’ I hear you cry!)….as I write I am surrounded by the pit pat (and clunk clack) of young feet and the swish of wheelchairs passing me by.

The heat in the hall that we use for the summer playschemes has driven our children out (you know it’s bad when the estates manager says ‘are you sure you actually want to know what the temperature is?’) and we have now given over our air conditioned offices to Team Playscheme to cool them down a bit.

Quite why we have a building where we get the benefit of air-conditioned offices when one of the rooms built for the children resembles a sauna in this heat I don’t know. So I’m quite pleased at this takeover – it feels like a bit of equality has hit.

We are hoping that tomorrow’s storm will clear this hot oppressive weather through and that we can go back to our usual spaces, but for now this is a bit different and nice to be in amongst the melee.

We have been busier than ever these last few weeks, still waiting for many of the local day services and other provisions to re-open and trying to pick up any families who badly need some fill-in support. Also picking up those who haven’t been able to go to school, or at least only for a couple of days a week, and for whom our services are an essential respite.

It’s been good to be busy – we feel useful and we have built closer bonds with our families and also with each other as we all pull together to deliver the best that we can.

And every single day, every single staff member has gone above and beyond their job role. Taking on new tasks, getting involved in direct provision, providing support that we have not provided before, picking up emergency safeguarding interventions, interpreting guidance and writing risk assessments, managing PPE, cleaning everything repeatedly, getting to know new children and dealing with the hoards of logistical issues that thunder through their usual workloads on heavy hooves when they are mid-pandemic.

And they manage to do this with the cheerful, efficient, professional good humour that has come to embody their approach during these challenging times .

Despite all of the additional work we still must fulfil our normal job roles, be accountable, comply with regulation and legislation, deliver as best a quality of service as we can, have standard meetings, write reports and make sure that we keep one eye on the essential business developments that keep us learning and growing.

And, generally speaking, the agencies around us and the other colleagues that we interact with have been supportive, generous, kind, grateful and accommodating.

It has been a warm and positive growth of partnerships and relationships both within and across sectors as we seek to tackle this together and help one another.

But there have been a few people who have fallen short of the high standards we have witnessed.

Silly quibbles over minor issues, complaints over small things which really in this current climate should not matter so much, defensive protecting of their own empires when surely we should all be working together, un-necessarily abrupt responses to enquiries or requests for help or support. Rude criticisms with no effort whatsoever to understand that we are still in a pandemic folks – we are all working extremely hard every day, weekends and evenings as well, to get this as right as we possibly and humanly can.

Our staff have sacrificed family time, personal wellbeing and comfort zones for a new and scary world.

Be nice.

Oh ok……

‘Please’ be nice.

Now I have to go as there is an arts and crafts session taking place in my cool office and I am going to go and join in…….