I laughed out loud when I thought about a typical day

KeyRing is an adult social care provider delivering person-centred, flexible support for adults using a Support Network model to connect people with each other and their local community. Mark Turner is a Community Enabler for KeyRing in Frome and describes his recent experiences.

“I laughed out loud when I thought about a typical day, there hasn’t been one of those for several months! As part of the KeyRing team, I spend my time supporting people (Members) to build their independence and connect with others. That used to mean going into people’s houses but not now. Now, I support people through their windows, in their gardens, over the phone and on video calls. Like the world around me, I’ve had to quickly adapt. Many people live alone. They found the lockdown really challenging. 

Early on, a Member announced that she could not take it anymore. She was lonely and bored. It was having a significant impact on her mental health. Her GP agreed to write a letter to give her permission to move to her Dad’s house 30 miles away. I researched train times and staying safe on the journey. In the end, she decided to stay where she was. I gave her enough reassurance, resources and connections and she realized that she wasn’t as trapped as she felt. She is one of our best-adapted Members now. 

Our community connections have helped too. When people were only allowed out once a day, the police provided our Members with little cards. They showed them to patrols if they were stopped for breaking the rules. One couple needed frequent exercise away from each other. Without that time tempers would flair and situations could quickly escalate. 
It’s a balancing act and I’m glad I know the people I support well. Time to check in frequently with my manager has been invaluable in an unprecedented time. I never imagined that I would be helping a Member’s mum to get her daughter back from Australia during a global pandemic! We did it though.  

Of course, it’s not just about work. I’ve leant on my practice throughout by doing yoga and meditation. It gives me the energy to adapt and keep calm. In fact, I feel more chilled now. I have seen such horrors that I have learnt to be a calming influence. My friendships have strengthened as we’ve supported each other; checking in frequently. I might have put on a little weight during lockdown but then hasn’t everyone? 

The pandemic has taught me the value of connection. In Frome, they started an initiative where neighbours shared telephone numbers and encouraged each other to reach out if they needed support. ‘Know your 5 closest neighbours’. It would be a shame if that community spirit didn’t continue. Frontline workers in health and social care are recognised for the work that they do. I strongly believe that they deserve pay that reflects their contribution. If this pandemic has taught us anything let it be the value of what we do.”


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