Shout out to my London support network

 

On 21 March I received a letter from the government informing me I was categorised as vulnerable and that I should shield for the foreseeable future.  My initial reaction was "shit, how am I going to manage?"  You see I live by myself - my husband passed away in 2013.  None of my family live in the UK and my in-laws live "up north".  None of my #MDRBFHFE girls live in London - they are the girls I know I can call any time of day or night and they'll be there for me.  Family and the #MDRBFHFE girls are the people I feel comfortable asking for help from.  

With my core social and support network of fifteen not being able to physically be there for me, I needed to reach out to friends and hope that they didn't think I was taking advantage of them.  You see it's not easy to ask for help when you don't feel like you can offer anything back in return.  I knew it wasn't going to be a one off request for help - I was in lockdown for a minimum of 12 weeks.  

When I moved to London back in 2014 I joined the New Zealand Business Women's Network.  Little did I know that the Kiwis I'd meet through this network would turn out to be my London support network.  When lockdown was announced I didn't have the chance to ask for help as friends called to ask what they could do to help.  Friends who live locally graciously dropped mid week groceries off for me or ran errands to the post office.  I even had their partners at my beck and call!  I'd inevitably run out of something and have to send an SOS to the group asking if anyone had the time to run the errand for me - knowing full well that it would mean they would have to queue to get into the supermarket then come out of their way to drop it off for me.  Not once was I made to feel like it was a nuisance or inconvenience.  

Then there were the friends who popped by for a chat on the doorstep/pavement.  Having those 10 mins conversations, in person, not by text or over the phone, meant a lot.  Without them I'm sure my pot plants would have died from the earful I used to give them!  Not only would they come by for a chat but they'd ask if I needed anything and would bring treats and other goodies and then refuse payment.   I love my friends for it but again I felt incredibly guilty for not being able to give anything in return.  I didn't want them to feel like I was taking advantage of them.  But then someone reminded me, what would you do?  Would you expect something in return?  

When my treatment resumed in mid May I didn't feel comfortable taking the tube to my appointments.  That meant that once again I had to ask for help.  Unfortunately by mid May Londoners the streets that had been quiet for the past month were full of traffic and the congestion charge was back in force.  Unable to come up with an alternative way of getting to my appointment, I asked friends if they would help.  They graciously rearranged their work days around me and my hospital appointments.  I was, and am, so grateful to them for their generosity.

To everyone who has helped me during lockdown and shielding, thank you so much.  I can't express my gratitude enough and feel truly privileged to have had so much given with such good grace.  

Kia mihi



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