VOICES OF LEWISHAM
“It made me feel proud to see how these young people adjusted to their changed circumstances and did what was asked of them.”
Tendai is a supported lodgings carer for Lewisham. He currently provides accommodation and support for two young people – Takura and Joe. Alongside this he works in Housing Management.
“Initially the transition to living and working in the same place 24/7 was a challenge all round.
There were occasions where we all wanted to use the communal areas for watching TV, exercising or having a video call. Over time we developed routines that fitted together well and allowed us to use shared spaces together or separately at different times.
“It was somewhat frustrating for each of us to start with. I found it heart-breaking seeing Joe and Takura not being able to see their friends, meet up with partners or go to football matches. I am naturally a positive person though and I knew that we would find ways to work through this pandemic together, which is one of the reasons I do this work to support young people towards living independently, and manage the varying situations life can sometimes throw at you.
“We had to keep talking to and trusting each other. They acted responsibly which helped too. We had to learn to give each other space and we developed a rota.
“I enjoyed having an early morning walk, and Takura and Joe went on bike rides a bit later in the day. I brought in some gym equipment such as benches and weights that we could all use at home. And during the summer we would all set exercise goals and use the equipment in the garden.
“The easing of restrictions over the summer to allow people to meet together outdoors helped.
“Looking ahead, it’s clear we are quite powerless. It is hard to make plans or know what will happen next. You have to work with what you have. I think I am now better prepared to face whatever happens next.
“It made me feel proud to see how these young people adjusted to their changed circumstances and did what was asked of them.
“Time saved travelling to work by working from home has been a bonus. And my job has carried on, which is fortunate. All carers received a small additional allowance from the council which helped make a difference with added energy bill costs due to the young people being at home more.
“I’ve walked 10,000 steps more regularly, and enjoyed walking through Blackheath. Lewisham has so many nice green spaces to be enjoyed. It’s been good to see so many like-minded people out there exercising too.
“My main hope is that this terrible situation goes away and that we can go back to normal. I hope there will be positive outcomes for the young people I support. Perhaps the experience will help them to have better skills to face the outside world. I do hope they will have fulfilled and prosperous lives.”
Tendai (not his real name) spoke to us in December 2020. Names have been changed in this account to protect the identity of the young people he supports.