VOICES OF LEWISHAM
“It was heart-warming for me to feel I had actually made a difference and helped someone through this crisis”
Many of the Council’s staff have taken on different roles during the pandemic to help support our community while their usual day jobs take a back seat. Joanne Banks is the borough’s Principal Electoral Services Officer, but after the Greater London Authority elections were postponed in spring 2020 due to COVID-19, Joanne volunteered to help elsewhere.
“Following the postponement of the elections, my role in the Council changed dramatically.
“Working at home became the norm for a lot of office-based staff and I too began working from home on a permanent basis. With the elections postponed, I volunteered to help out with Lewisham’s COVID-19 hotline calls from the very start of lockdown in March 2020. Taking calls of every nature from residents in Lewisham was a challenging role for me, never knowing what each caller would be requesting. This felt daunting to begin with, as I was carrying out a role in an area where I had little expertise and without colleagues nearby to seek advice from. In an unknown situation such as this, it was a little scary too – no one wants to give the wrong advice!!
“Arranging food parcels for residents, making referrals to the NHS Volunteer Responders so that residents could access food, medication, or attend medical appointments safely, along with providing advice for small businesses in Lewisham, were just some of issues I dealt with. Some of our more isolated residents really just wanted to chat and were grateful to hear a voice at the end of the telephone, so it was heart-warming for me to feel I had actually made a difference and helped someone through this crisis. Contacting our clinically vulnerable and shielding residents just to check they were ok and reminding them we were there to help was another of my very fulfilling roles which I carried out during lockdown.
“During the pandemic I have exercised more regularly, taken time out for myself and had an opportunity to walk around and enjoy the area where I live. Time saved by not travelling to and from the office has allowed for this, and although being unable to physically see friends and family has been one of the biggest challenges, the power of technology has been a life saver. The ability to communicate with family and friends, as well colleagues over the internet, has really helped with what could have been a far more isolating experience for so many.
“My greatest hope through all of this is that one day we can all return to normal and enjoy the things we love doing with the people we love. Reflecting on this last year has taught me that things can change in an instant and the simple things in life should never be taken for granted.”
Joanne spoke to us in February 2021