Experiences of 2020

Len - Hospitality Worker & Emergency Volunteer

"Now more than ever, do I feel the theory that we are only 6 degrees of separation away from each other. I am feeling everything I experience first-hand, hear from friends, and read in the news.

I work in hospitality; I have potentially lost my job; and almost everyone in my very immediate circle is in a similar position. Friends who had given 5+ years to companies, have walked away with quite literally nothing. I feel my 6 degrees.

I wasn’t an essential worker, I was barely considered a skilled worker, and I am now considered a key worker. I am living in the fortunate circumstances that I am young, I am healthy, have access to a car and abundance of free time. I can’t sit still, and I hate to feel useless, and feel a level of moral duty to use my time to help. I feel my 6 degrees.

Since losing my job, I have been volunteering in a foodbank in Glasgow. We are a small team working from the storeroom. Our service quadrupled since lockdown. More and more families are relying on the charity sector because of covid-19 to ensure their basic needs are met. Something that should be alien to them. It’s easy to feel disengaged when working in the storeroom, moving stock and packing bags, as it all becomes a simple task. Part of my duties are to drop off food, and very occasionally, I have given the service users a lift home or to the pharmacy, or other essentials. I understand the risk factor; but the need for these basic amenities for these people outweighs that for me. I feel my 6 degrees.

During this we have relayed our own personal stories, trying to offer some form of soundboard for them. One woman told me her story; her mum lives across the city in a retirement community, she calls her everyday as she can no longer do her 3 weekly visits. I suggested using video chat to contact her family, she explains she has no access to a laptop/mobile device and can’t even afford access to Wi-Fi, nor can anyone in her building. Video chat is something I am relying heavily on and have certainly taken for granted. This woman refuses to use the foodbank more than every three weeks, she makes it last, she wants others to have access before her. I feel my 6 degrees.

I will not tell you to get out and volunteer; by staying home you are doing your bit. Please stay safe, stay healthy and communicate with your friends and family. It keeps us going. However, if you are able to, and feel comfortable to do so; please volunteer, please give to your local charities, and finally, please think about our 6 degrees."