25 May 2020

Staff chat - Rachael

How has our Community Engagement Coordinator's work changed since lockdown?

We caught up with Rachael, our Community Engagement Coordinator to find out how her life and her job has changed since lockdown began in March.


Before the lockdown, what did a typical day at Wimbledon Guild look like for you?  

I would describe a day in the life of a member of the Community Engagement department as never the same - it's brilliant! From engaging in activities, to meeting and greeting new customers, to then coordinating new innovative and engaging opportunities to offer our customers in the ever-changing environment, the job is fast paced and fun! 


Did you interact with our customers?     

I did indeed, on a daily basis. 


What have you been doing (work-wise) since the lockdown began? 

Since lockdown, myself and the team have been working incredibly hard to ensure both existing customers and new customers are being supported despite being in isolation. We have achieved this by providing shopping volunteers for our vulnerable customers who are unable to get out. Alongside this, we have our telephone befriending service where volunteers regularly call customers on a weekly basis, sometimes more, to socially engage with them via the phone. 

Due to lockdown, all of our activities had to be stopped. Therefore, we have been working hard to make our activities available to our customers online. With this in mind we are highly aware technology can be very difficult to understand and control, so we are ensuring our customers are being given help and guidance. 


What has it been like adapting to the change in how you do your job? 

Eye opening and inspiring!

This situation has highlighted to me how our existing and new volunteers are such caring, compassionate and giving individuals. It has made me proud to be behind an organisation that is willing to continue to support the most vulnerable people no matter what the situation is - even when it is a pandemic! 

Yes, our everyday is very different without being able to provide our usual face to face service, however this has not stopped us keeping in regular contact with our customer base through telephone calls, emails and now Zoom sessions! 

Overall, as much as we would love to be back to business, there are many positive things to take from this situation. 


Outside of work, what have you been doing to adapt to life under lockdown? 

I chose to isolate back with my parents which is on a small farm along with my sister and my nephews. By doing this I have spent time with my family that I don't think I would ever have the time to do again! 

I have also been able to focus on areas like my fitness, self care and try new things that I never had time for which has been refreshing. 

However, moving back in with parents after so long can be testing... and whoever invented the exercise burpees is evil!


How have the customers you have talked to been doing during this difficult period? 

This has been a very daunting and difficult time for our customers as the majority of them have been advised to isolate for at least 12 weeks. However, I have been humbled by the positive outlook a lot of them have with the ongoing situation and their courage to just keep going is amazing. 

With that said, of course every day is different and some days can be hard. I feel our customers struggle with not being able to see loved ones and losing the ability to just pop out every now and then. 


Have the customers you have talked to taken part in any remote activities Wimbledon Guild is offering/using any resources we have sent out? 

As an organisation we have ensured regular updates have been sent out to customers so they feel they are kept in the loop with what opportunities and resources are being offered. Since we have ventured down the pathway of making our activities available online we have had an incredible response back from our customers interested in joining, with around 130 wanting to engage. Therefore, I am confident many will take part. 


What has been the response from customers to the work you and the rest of Wimbledon Guild are doing during lockdown? 


Many of the conversations I have with customers end with them thanking Wimbledon Guild for all the work we are doing to support them and how grateful they are to be involved and a part of Wimbledon Guild. Which makes all the hard work worth it!


Have any of the customers you have talked to spoken about looking forward to Wimbledon Guild reopening its doors?    


We regularly get asked when we are reopening and if it will be soon. Many tell us they cannot wait to be back participating in activities and socialising with others. 


Finally, do you have anything else related to your work for Wimbledon Guild which you think people might be interested in hearing? 

That Chris our amazing cafe cook makes the best brownies in the world - so when we reopen everyone should pay a visit to try them! 


Thank you Rachael! We'll be catching up with other team members over the next few days, so do check back for more!

We need your help...

Socially isolated people across Merton are depending on us for immediate and practical support with food deliveries, telephone befriending and much more. In what is a difficult time for everyone, help us support vulnerable people who are likely to feel the impact most.