Theresa age 46

Single parenting has been the hardest, living with the knowledge that no one is coming round; there is no one to rescue or support me. My Tweenager has physical and emotional outbursts – where she attacks me. I can only turn to her dad for support which gives momentary relief, but it’s brings many other problems too. The responsibly of doing the right thing, despite the hardship it brings, has been hard. I have struggled so much witnessing other people’s lack of responsibility. I feel so angry and judgmental about people not complying with the behaviours needed to get us through this pandemic.

I work on the front line as a Teaching Assistant, the expectations are high, along with the risks and I feel unrecognised as one of the lowest paid workers. I lost my much needed half term respite from my daughter, who was due to go to my mum’s for the week, as we had to isolate because a colleague tested positive.  It was really difficult having to go to back to work after not getting the break I needed, they couldn’t compensate me with any time off to recuperate, that was painful.

Despite some difficult feelings about work, it has helped me, it’s given me routine, somewhere to go, a connection with other people and the world. It made home a nicer place to return to not just a place I was trapped in. I remember getting the call in June 2020 that I could come back to work; I was so excited, just to be in a different environment! It’s been so refreshing to see some of the most vulnerable children’s progress, for once these kids are not lost in a big, under resourced classroom, it’s how it should be really. I have worked with a couple of asylum seeker children who couldn’t speak English at all, but now they can name animals, count, name colours and fruits etc and that’s because of the support they have been able to receive.

Exercise has kept me going; I’ve really surprised myself with how motivated I’ve been, I have realised I can do it daily despite being cut off from outside world. I love my bike and in the first lockdown I experienced the pleasure of me and my daughter cycling through the deserted city centre in the glorious sunshine. It was so freeing and seeing my daughter liberated on her bike was truly joyful, it felt like we had reclaimed the streets.  We were free of the pressure of normal day to day life then and I could enjoy sunny lunches in the garden, as the children chatted to each other from the tops of their climbing frames – they made plans together for better days to come.

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