Milly Hastelow, a 22-year-old from Sheffield, has embodied what ‘care’ means throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. As frontline NHS and Senior Healthcare worker in a private setting, Milly is one of the many, putting the needs of others before her own during these difficult times. Despite her busy work life, Milly doesn’t stop there; outside of work, she volunteers around-the-clock in the community to help those worst affected by Coronavirus.
I approached Milly after seeing her outstanding efforts to help vulnerable people ahead of the third National Lockdown on Facebook. ‘I tried to help those vulnerable, utilising my free time away from work’, she explained, adding, ‘… reaching out to those sadly stuck indoors, for the foreseeable future’.
Official ONS statistics identified by the NHS show that 2.2 million people in the UK are identifiable as ‘clinically, extremely vulnerable’ (CEV) to the risks of COVID-19. Additional research also shows that around 60% of the CEV are still following the shielding guidelines from last March, meaning some vulnerable people haven’t been able to leave their home in almost a year. Milly told me: The impact of isolation is great, considering the time now, but ‘it’s the added stress of feeling like an inconvenience’. Miss Hastelow lives alone and empathises with this feeling, propelling her desire to give back to the community.
After a lot of research into the communities within Sheffield and by talking to those around her, Milly thought about how she can make a difference and offer useful services to those in need. Milly offers pre-packaged essential food hampers, with fresh ingredients and basic household items (such as kitchen rolls and soaps), and the option to pick up prepaid orders from supermarkets, depending on people’s needs. Another way Miss Hastelow helps is by completing customised shopping lists, with expected delivery within 72 hours, however, due to working long shifts and the need to keep safe, some orders may take longer. From the beginning of the pandemic, some supermarket chains like Morrisons, Aldi and Marks & Spencer’s have run exclusive priority times for NHS staff and the CEV to do their shopping. Milly tries to go at these times, or late at night, when the headcount is much lower to ease the anxieties of those she’s shopping for. Current Government rules mean that travel must be essential and safe, which for Milly has become second nature. As a Senior Healthcare worker; ‘I follow the correct procedures in and out of work; wearing disposable face masks, sanitising appropriately and keeping my distance’. The only in-person contact, outside of her day job, is with her mother who, ‘Thankfully [mum] is in [her] my support bubble’.
After discussing her voluntary role, I asked Milly what it is like to work on the frontline of a pandemic; ‘I have always wanted to help people, hence working in healthcare,’ she said. ‘I spend a lot of time thinking about what I can do right now, the healthcare sector is struggling beyond capacity’. Over the course of the conversation, Milly revealed that staffing levels are low for quarantine periods, leaving few staff to cover shifts. ‘I grab a coffee here and there’, lunch breaks are none existent and the frontline demand is exhausting. Social media has shown us the distressing and upsetting images from within hospitals and care homes but, for Milly, it has brought professionals together and her ‘work colleagues feel more like family’. There are two sides to every story; the Coronavirus Pandemic is devastating, but seeing the country fight together is admirable.
A message to the public
‘Front-line workers can’t stay at home, but you can. I hope to continue seeing my community pull together, in solidarity, following social distancing; please stay at home! The quicker we follow the advice given, means we have a better chance to come out of lockdown, to some sort of normality. We go to work for you; Please stay at home and stay safe, for us,’.
Sheffield: Voluntary and Charity-Lead Groups
- Burton Street offers a wellbeing service for people with disabilities. Usually, they run in person sessions, but because of restrictions have closed their doors. However, they have regular zoom meets to help support users remotely.
- The SCCC, of Sheffield, is offering practical and emotional support for elders within the community. Access detail and further information on their website.
- Sheffield Online is offering a range of services, such as wellbeing and mental health phone calls, essential errands for prescriptions, food and household needs, they will even help you with power, or heating problems, where possible.
- Sheffield City Council have put together a map of community hubs which are able to provide different types of support to those affected by Coronavirus.
For information on the latest Coronavirus updates, visit https: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.