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Blog from Linda Bryant, Together’s CEO

Posted on 20, March 2020

 It’s safe to say, that these last few weeks have been the strangest of my entire working life.  I would imagine that’s the same for many people up and down the country and across the world.

I have struggled to understand what Coronavirus means for me, my family, my friends, for our communities and for society as we know it. What will change? What will stay the same?

Most of all, I have thought about the people we work alongside at Together and about our staff and volunteers who have chosen to support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Whether that’s working in our front-line services or providing enabling support through our national office. What can I do? What can we do together, to protect and look after each other at a time when we can feel overwhelmed and are all struggling to manage the unfamiliar? How can we continue to connect with each other and remain resilient when we are socially distanced in order to stem the tide and stop the harmful impact of the virus?

Well, what I do know is that at Together we are doing all that we can to continue to support the people we work alongside. And how do I know that? Because the values of Together are being seen in the daily things that our staff and volunteers are doing across the organisation. They have been working together, not giving up in the face of difficult and challenging situations and involving the people we work alongside to ensure they are supported in the way they have chosen and need to be at this time. Staff have been giving up their holidays to cover shifts for their colleagues while volunteers are asking what else they can do to offer additional support. Our teams are checking in on colleagues who they know have personal circumstances that are causing concern and staff are spending extra time to listen, hear and respond to the understandable anxieties and distress of the people who use our services. We are working collaboratively with other organisations and agencies to explore sharing resources.

My greatest desire in the last few days has been to shut down my laptop, get off the phone, and help the staff and volunteers in our frontline services.  It’s where I started out and where my heart remains. It is my regret that my own personal circumstances don’t allow me to do that without putting others in harm’s way. I’m sure these conflicting feelings are something many people can identify with and I am hoping that will change.

What I know I definitely can do though, and am doing with the senior leadership team at Together, is to consider and act in every conceivable way we can to ensure our services keep running whilst also looking out for our staff, volunteers and the people we are here to serve. That also includes looking out for the community in which our services operate and the other organisations and agencies that we come into contact with. We will do our part to help build resilience and strengthen our connectedness.

I know how worried everyone is – for ourselves, our families and the many vulnerable people we work alongside. I am so proud of how Together’s staff and volunteers have responded to these unpredictable and strange times.

I send my warm regards to you and your families and my best wishes that you remain healthy and safe.

Linda Bryant, Chief Executive