The government’s lockdown and the office shutdown in March was a massive shock to the system for everyone.
Suddenly our routines and the people we rely upon, and often took for granted, were no longer there. It was difficult for everyone but personally it was hard dealing with not seeing my elderly parents and a sister who I relied on for childcare.
As solicitors and legal practitioners, we provide an essential service because we support people through major milestones and often difficult times in their lives. The coronavirus pandemic qualifies as a difficult time and people came to us for legal support and certainty.
So, it has been a busy time dealing with our own pandemic stories and doing our jobs to help people navigate through a really worrying time – health wise and financially. Pandemic or not, we still had to ensure that Wills were signed, LPAs were registered, and estates were administered. I’ll always remember witnessing Wills at the end of paths, drives, through windows, in the glorious sunshine and in the pouring rain.
We’ve also all had to get used to meeting people through a screen. I’ve enjoyed watching the clips we have seen on the news of people being interviewed from their homes and their child appearing in the background. It actually happen to me on a number of occasions. I ended up introducing my son to members of a Microsoft Teams meeting because I couldn’t ignore the fact he’d walked in part way through to tell me about some American kid he had watched on YouTube playing a computer game!
Working from home and video conferencing has been positive in many ways. It is something that we will continue to use as things move on but I miss our lovely office atmosphere and the relationships we, as a team, had all created. I’ve also realised how much I miss seeing my clients.
There have been surreal moments throughout this adventure, such as sitting at my desk working away whilst my little boy played outside in the paddling pool in what felt like Spanish sunshine or driving to the Leyland office on a nearly empty motorway in what is normally peak rush hour.
Being permanently at home I’ve seen things differently from what I thought I knew. Not least a child that I once thought was a fussy eater now eats non-stop and my fridge constantly needs restocking. I thought that I had a dog that didn’t bark. I’ve discovered Daisy constantly barks, usually when I’m on the phone. She also sits underneath my desk – on my feet!
Our pets have been a constant comfort and they seem to have particularly enjoyed the lockdown and the extra attention. Daisy has been wonderful but during lockdown I had to sort out a visit to the Animal Hospital so she could have stomach surgery. Doing that without any family around to support me was particularly difficult but she’s made a full recovery.
What has been humbling and inspiring to watch is people’s proactive reaction to these difficult times. Our teams and the staff right across the firm moved quickly with professionalism, commitment and innovation to continue to provide a service to the people we support – even if it meant working from a kitchen table.
The reaction from clients and the third-sector organisations we work with has been incredible too. I was really happy to see how some of the care homes where our clients are resident embraced lockdown. The efforts they were going to, to ensure residents kept in touch with loved ones was amazing. Seeing how the members of South Ribble Dementia Action Alliance (SRDAA) joined forces to offer guidance to those living in the community with dementia whilst in lockdown, made me proud to be part of the SRDAA.
It is an extraordinary time that we are living through and we can’t underestimate the impact it has had on our way of life. As we come out of this phase of the pandemic it is important for you to look back over the past five months and recognise your achievements and your sacrifices. You have helped a lot of people and it is also a time to remember to be kind to yourselves too.