June, a time of celebration for me. Two of my children have birthdays; my daughter turns 16 and the other six. It’s the first month of summer and I love the sun (it helps me feel happy). Thousands of years ago, the ancient Romans named this month after the goddess Juno, so it somehow feels fitting to write a blog about a day in my life at Juno in June 2020!
Let the day commence…
My day begins with gratitude. I’m grateful to be well and that my loved ones are healthy and surviving lockdown life and its struggles, one lockdown day at a time, each one bringing us closer towards the end of the pandemic.
Following my “living in the moment”, moment, I go to work in my role as a mum. This starts with organising my three children for the day and then literally wishing for the best…
As a single mum, I have found myself in immense feelings of guilt for not knowing how to work out the logic behind multiplications (being from a generation where we were taught the answers by art). Not having another adult around to support me entertaining them, having cuddle times, or baking a cake, is another struggle the isolation of COVID-19 can bring.
Reaching for my laptop from its secret place, hidden away from sight so I can switch off from work when I am not there and not trigger work memories by seeing it, I pause to ready myself for the day at my makeshift desk and office, which is alternatively known as my families living room where we eat, talk and entertain each other.
The first task at Juno…
My first task is to deal with the vast amount of communications via email, messages, and voice notes. Although I agree its “good to talk,” come on people, five emails about that, really?
Priorities quickly stomp into position. A survivor open to our high-risk team is needing refuge with her three children. During normal times, a woman going into refuge can often raise complexities for the family, during a pandemic these can be magnified. Given the increase in survivor’s risks and requests for support since lockdown, the refuge has had some challenges.
At a frantic pace, the survivor’s team of workers coordinate a plan to get her to safety and to support her after finding the courage to disclose suffering horrendous abuse, some witnessed by the children. The language used includes mental health, rape, suicide, significant harm, and death. I have a sense of urgency, which has replaced my sense of tiredness, having not slept well the night before. This is a new pattern emerging for me since lockdown life as the fears around my loved ones enter my dreams and can wake me.
We eventually find refuge which will take her and the children. She is happy with the location and the usual concerns around losing the network of family, friends, and community such as school and GP are not there as much these days as we have adjusted to the isolation or at least accepted this as a way of life. With the Survivor being escorted to refuge by the Police, the sense of urgency is now replaced with a sense of relief.
Coffee and biscuits!
With this, a coffee break is in order. It’s well needed, to be honest, my eating routines of waffles and fruit from Lidl in the morning and fast-food lunches are now not in place, so I find coffee and biscuits have become a new friend until I’m brave enough to eat from the chippy again.
I settle down and the relief is now a realisation that my emails have been piling up with requests for just about everything. Again, really? I decide to keep it simple and deal with them one email at a time, throughout the day.
The afternoon is spent with time on the phone, supporting a staff member who’s working with a survivor devastated and highly anxious as her children have been kidnapped, having not been returned by their father for a few days now. The Police have been unable to get the children home and there has been an application for a recovery order to be heard urgently at court – remotely. The survivor is blaming herself, my colleague is supporting her to lay the responsibility where it rightfully belongs – on the perpetrator, whilst gently reminding her that it’s a tactic to control.
An extensive safety plan is put in place and court support is given to ensure she is equipped with knowledge and tools to get through the hearing. She is signposted to the helpline which she is encouraged to call if she needs any more support during the night. I keep my fingers crossed she can get through if she needs it given that there has been a 25% increase in the numbers of calls they are now receiving. I get ready for my day to end.
Let the day end…
Just before finishing, I receive a call to discuss a referral. It has been sent in from the Police who were called out by the neighbours following reports of shouting. My colleague feels that the survivor would benefit from a food parcel, help with utilities, and some items from the Juno wish list to help keep her safe and the children well. We check what food banks are delivering food currently and locally, also what can be put in place to support her mounting debts for gas and electric, given the perpetrator has restricted her access to funds. The Survivor is signposted to partners for financial support.
Before I attempt to log off for the third time today (!), I give myself 10 minutes to pause and reflect. This helps me transition and prepare myself for the knock at my living room door and for the children to take back control of the office (I mean their living room).