Covid-19 Community Reporter, Dianna Djokey, speaks to Elektra, a mother, wife and person of colour, about her experience of contracting Covid-19 and home-schooling her children, and what it has taught her. Elektra asked to be identified by her first name only.
Dianna Djokey: How has Covid affected you?
Elektra: It has affected me mentally. I was scared thinking that I had symptoms of Covid-19 [about] what would happen to me. I’ve been ok financially as the NHS really helped us. They were calling every two days to make sure we were self-isolating and letting me know there were people from the NHS to help if I need shopping. Mentally I was really scared.
When you were scared how did you navigate through that?
The NHS called and they asked me [about] my symptoms, how was I feeling and [they said] if I needed someone to speak to, they could give me a helpline. They were very supportive in that way. Financially and mentally as well, they were supportive.
How was the experience of isolating?
Yes, me, my husband and the kids had to isolate for 14 days. I went to get tested at work because every Friday we do testing and when I came home I felt ok. The Saturday morning, I went to hang some washing out and then I came back in [the house] and [had] a really bad headache. I felt a little bit sick so I thought, ‘I’ll lay down on the sofa’. I ended up sleeping on the sofa all day. When I woke up I felt a little better, then on Saturday I went to bed. By Sunday when I woke up, I was ok and had no more symptoms so from the Saturday evening, I would say, I felt better, but for safety measures as I am a care worker I still had to stay in the house for 14 days.
So although you had Covid-19 the symptoms weren’t as severe?
No, it was mild.
After recovering from Covid, did you have any post-Covid symptoms?
It’s been okay ever since.
What are your thoughts on the Government and their handling of Covid-19?
[The government say] we shouldn’t have more than six people at your house but then you take the kids to school. When I take them to school, everybody is together on the playground. Parents with their children were standing together in groups, so if any of those parents or children had symptoms you can get it. There’s mixed communication and sometimes that could be really confusing, as you want to do what is best for your children in the end.
What do you do for a job?
I’m a night carer.
How has your workplace been, in terms of handling Covid?
At the moment, we have lots of people coming through the NHS with something wrong. Some of them, if their temperature is really high, we would get them to self-isolate in the residential care home or if the temperature was sky high, we would send them back to hospital, so in that way it’s tricky.
When it comes to PPE, we had enough masks and gloves and aprons. The CEO of the company left a notice for all the staff so that they could let us know that if anything was wrong or if guidelines had changed. There is always somebody to call and [a] helpline. As colleagues we [talked] about it as well so we give an insight as to where to go and what to do, [and] the manager was really helpful. She made sure we come in and get tested. I think that’s how the company has helped.
When it comes to your family, how have they been handling Covid?
My son was upset because he couldn’t go to school. He’s been saying ‘Kill Covid’ since March when lockdown happened. With my daughter, she’s handling it all right. She understands that she needs to [stay in more]. Sometimes she asks to go out to play with her friends, I keep reminding her that we need to stay inside. They look for little ways [to] go riding or play in the garden or go for a little walk close to our house. With my husband, he’s working from home, so it’s easier for him and safer.
How was it navigating home schooling when the schools were closed? How was the experience for you and your family?
It was tricky and hard because there were many things I didn’t understand. It was difficult for my son because there were lots of things I didn’t understand and towards the end, the teacher would call me every day and try to help me navigate some of the work that I was finding tricky. My son’s school website didn’t have much information on it to give parents the support, so parents were complaining. Afterwards the school put information on the website so all the parents would know what to do and how to get support. Towards the end of March we had a bit more support from his school. For my daughter’s school we had to go on the school’s Facebook [page] to get her school work and which directed us to a website [where] all the work was there for her already.
I left school a long time ago and I realize that there are things that I didn’t even understand. I didn’t even realize it could be a bit difficult when you haven’t done it for a long time. After a while it came back to me, I was doing it and I was remembering and so in a sense it was good.
Covid is disproportionately affecting people of colour. Has that led you to further protect yourself?
I’ve taught the kids to always wash their hands when we come back in and when we go out and come home. I always wear my mask when I go out. If I go shopping, I try to put alcohol gel on the trollies. Especially in the household, when we come in I try to have Dettol wipes in my bag so we can wipe our hands. I try to clean the door handles and try to sterilize everything that we use as well. With the kids, it’s complicated because they go to school and they come back and you don’t know what they’ve touched so I try to get them to always wash their hands at school.
Do you have family that is staying here in the UK or do you have family that is abroad?
Yes, we have family who live here in the UK.
How has it been trying to connect with your family?
It’s been ok because we have WhatsApp video call. For the kids, they miss their cousin. They have a little cousin who is going to be four and speaking to her over the phone and seeing her in person running around the house is different. It has affected the kids a lot because they can’t see her, physically touch her but for us, as adults, we know that there’s nothing we can do about it. So, I think we have coped really well, except for the kids. They want playtime, they want to go out, they want to go to McDonalds, they want to go to the cinema and there’s things they can’t do and it’s hard.
Now they are back in school, how have the children adjusted going back into that environment?
My son is back in school and he takes the bus, he has to wear a mask while travelling. When he arrives at school, as soon as he gets into the building, he takes the mask off and puts it in his bag. He’s adjusted well, until we had to isolate for 14 days. He’s been very upset because he was enjoying school again.
With my daughter, I think because she has just started year 3, she hasn’t really fully adjusted as she hasn’t had new friends, so she hasn’t been saying, ‘I look forward to going to school.’ I don’t want to say that she hasn’t cared much [about school] but when I said to her, ‘you are not going to school because we are self-isolating for the next 14 days’, she’ll go, ‘Yeah!’ So for her it’s been a bit of a process.
S&C has been awarded funding from the European Journalism Centre Covid-19 Support Fund to explore the social impact of Covid-19 on diverse communities and sectors in Portsmouth:
- voluntary sector, including charities, community groups and social enterprises
- small businesses and self-employed people
- BAME communities
- people with disabilities
We have also been awarded funding from the Public Interest News Foundation Emergency Fund to explore the social impact of Covid-19 on migrants, and asylum seekers and refugees.