VOICES OF LEWISHAM
“My job is a huge part of my life, and it’s been really hard not being able to go to work and see my colleagues.”
Aisha Edwards, 26, lives in the borough and is a key member of Lewisham Speaking Up, an independent charity for people with learning disabilities. She also works at the Young Vic Theatre, which has been closed for the majority of the time since 14 March. Aisha has struggled not being able to work at the theatre, and misses the regular interaction with her work colleagues and theatregoers.
“I got my job at The Young Vic through a five week training course with Mencap. They gave me work experience, and then I applied for a permanent job as an usher. I greet people, show them to their seats, if they have any problems they can come to me and I can help them resolve them. It’s a real people-facing job, which I love because I am a real people person!
“My job is a huge part of my life, and it’s been really hard not being able to go to work and see my colleagues. They are so nice and I miss them very much.
“The Young Vic is trying to find different ways they can get a show together but it is really difficult for them as audiences that are really spread out don’t really work for the Young Vic as a venue – it’s not big enough. I’ve been in work just once since 14 March – they were trying out something with the social distancing rules – and it was just not the same.
“Aside from the work at Young Vic I also work with Lewisham Speaking Up, a local charity for people with learning disabilities like me, helping us with our independence and in getting our voices heard. I used to do a lot of travelling to different places with Lewisham Speaking Up. This is another thing that is not happening now.
“I’ve felt very sad this year, it’s important for me to see people and interact.
“I have learnt a lot about new technologies though, and have been using Zoom and Teams, and chats on WhatsApp to stay connected with people. The internet and technology is so advanced these days, it’s helped me a lot. I don’t know what I would have done without it to be honest. My work colleagues, family and friends have been brilliant and helping to keep me happy. I am thankful that I got to visit Jamaica with my family in January - it seems so long ago now!
“I am worried about whether this virus will ever go away. Will it get worse if the lockdown relaxing gets out of hand and we all go back to square one? They need to get things back to normal gradually, not quickly.
“I really want to get back to my job and go back to normal without the mask, and without the two-metre social distancing. See all my colleagues and friends without the restrictions.
“The theatre industry has been hit so hard by this. I said to one of my friends the other day – I understand that the restaurants have been affected really badly, but it’s been very hard for our industry to adapt. Central London is so quiet where all the theatres are now.
“Something great happened to me as a result of all this though – I was on TV! I was interviewed by the BBC to talk about my Young Vic job. They came to my house and filmed me and I was on the news and everything. It was really good and my family is very proud!
“I’m lucky that I am careful with my money and have not been spending anything so I haven’t been personally affected financially, but I do hope to be able to get back into work again soon. Before I used to spend like mad but now I only spend on things that I really need.”
Aisha spoke to us in December 2020.