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Emelita Robbins

CEO Charity

We took a ski trip in February and as we drove to the mountains we talked about the terrible bushfires ravaging New South Wales, Brexit, A level revision plans and university choices.

Seven days later an outbreak of COVID-19 on a cruise ship was making the headlines. The WHO was calling for the strongest possible national measures to be implemented in order to manage the spread of the virus. Boris Johnson offered reassurance that the UK Government’s special advisors were proposing a policy of herd immunity. News broke as we reached St Malo, that the virus was evident in the first of Europe’s ski resorts.

At Hospice it was time to invoke the business continuity plan. All non-essential activity stopped. We had a window in which to retrain and redeploy staff, as the potential consequences of the virus loomed. Patient care and staff safety became our vision lenses for every decision.

We learned to make decisions with little information. We learned that sometimes the absence of a decision is more harmful than a wrong decision. The pressure was relentless, but the commitment of staff and supporters alike humbling, filling me with pride and gratitude.

Zoom calls for school and work became our new norm. I joined the Government’s Silver Command Group, difficult decisions were made, the population was subject to categorisation should insufficient resources be available to offer healthcare to all COVID-19 patients

The A level student who was no more, slept in, stayed in and started to question how we would come out of this global pandemic. He took on extra shifts in the supermarket serving essential workers; stacking shelves stripped of toilet rolls, pasta and flour; and asking every customer at his till how life in the pandemic was for them.

He catalogued knowledge on the social impact of COVID-19, with specifics on people’s health, wellbeing and finances. He noted those that complained about the social distancing, the queues to enter the shop, the wearing of masks and the building of the Nightingale Hospital. He broke shoppers down into the believers, the worriers, the conspiracy theorists, the isolated, the lonely, the home-workers and the families confined into spaces with pressures a boy of his age is perhaps too young to fully grasp.

You have to know who you are and what matters to you in order to truly live consciously. The Black Lives Matter movement caught me off guard. I realised with shame that not being racist was simply not enough. We all have to be anti-racist that means proactive in rising up against discrimination.

2020 has been a large global reset button. We have all understood that it is possible to make decisions, in the face of huge challenges. There is no excuse now not to live with intent and authenticity. It is time.