What is your role at Field Lane; how long have you worked for the charity?
I am the director of operations, responsible for all operational issues across the charity. I have worked with Field Lane for 20 years. I enjoy my job and we have such a lovely team of staff here, as the past few months have demonstrated. Everyone has really stepped up to the challenge and done so willingly.
What have been the main challenges over the past months and how have you managed these?
The fundamental challenge we faced was keeping people safe and healthy. We had to ensure staff not only felt safe but felt confident about coming into work and supporting our clients through this crisis. At one point I was concerned we wouldn’t have enough staff. But the project managers and their teams have done really well and kept things going.
Its been a huge responsibility giving staff the extra support they need, not just in terms of having enough supplies of PPE but also emotionally. It’s been extremely difficult for our care staff; they have worked tirelessly and without complaint.
We had to create an environment where our clients were happy and cared for, without getting distressed. To do this staff needed to understand the responsibility that was being asked of them. It was not straightforward; many of our clients are extremely vulnerable and need support to help manage their behaviour. Lockdown conditions and not being able to see family made things even more difficult. However, our staff teams have been exceptional and created calm and safe environments for our clients.
I speak to the project managers everyday, continuing to instil confidence and assure them that we can get through this – and we are. We have managed to continue supporting some of our clients out in the community; supporting them and their families at home, where they need us.
It’s been very difficult for families, not being able to visit the projects. But they have been very understanding and shown their support, even sending gifts and thank-you cards to the project staff.
Everyday has been a changing landscape and we’ve had to adapt. Because there have been so many unknowns, it’s been important for me to be present, having daily conversations with every team. Supporting each other through this has been vital.
How will this experience affect how you operate in the future?
The increased use of technology, eg. Zoom to keep in touch has proved to be invaluable. I think we will continue to use it to maintain higher levels of communications between the disparate teams.
I think relationships have grown stronger; we’ve all grown closer too. The experience has brought to the fore a deeper sense of humanity that I hope we can hold onto post-lockdown.
What are you looking forward to doing again after lockdown?
I’m looking forward to being able to visit our projects again and have face-to-face time with our clients. I’ve seen more people via daily Zoom calls but it doesn’t replace being face-to-face.
What I miss most is seeing people being able to live life without fear of catching the virus.
Everyone has been truly remarkable during this time – from the team at head office through to the cleaning staff in the projects. I’m so proud of how Field Lane has come together during this crisis – I think it’s made us stronger and more resilient.