We see you, you matter…

Submitted by Erin
Sussex Trauma Network Manager

As a non-clinical employee it was a real honour to witness first-hand the dedication of our medical staff.

It makes me weepy just thinking of those early days. Having had only recently taken on the role as Sussex Trauma Network Manager most of my interactions with clinicians were at quarterly meetings where we would discuss policies and governance.

Once Covid came along the role changed to weekly, sometimes daily updates from all of our trauma sites across the region on the live situation on the ground.

We started having regular weekly check-ins just to see how best to support one another. One call in particular, where a colleague just looked so utterly broken, got me thinking what can I do for our trauma staff. It is hard when you aren’t clinical to know how to help in a crisis.

I soon realised my friends were in the same boat as my wife and I, working and staying at home, not sure how to help, feeling helpless.

So I decided to email a few mates with the idea to “adopt a nurse” by donating gifts or cash to buy nice gifts for frontline staff.

Friends shared the request with their friends and social groups (golf, sea swimming, knitting, book clubs) and then something magical happened – so much love, money, gifts and so many cakes arrived on my doorstep.

My eight year old would help me put gift bags together and we’d write hand written thank you notes at night; a little something to say “We see you, you matter, and your tireless dedication is noted and so appreciated.”

I popped into the County Hospital twice a week with gifts and baked goods. I feel so grateful for those quick, masked encounters and getting to meet more of our hard working staff in person.

The experience brought on by Covid, meant I met new people and even made a new raft of friends. It really was a silver lining to the pandemic. To witness community spirit in action and people coming together for a common good was beautiful. Covid got us all to slow down and see what really matters – friendship, community, love, and health.

My direct take away from the experience is that I met a sea swimmer – Kim – who would show up with cakes after a dip in the sea – I could tell because she had on one of those Dry Robes.

We’d chat across the front garden about sea swimming and the benefits. These weekly chats with a then stranger led me to take the plunge and start sea swimming (in cold January) to help with stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue. I’ve been forever changed by it and now swim four times a week; something I never would have considered before.

The hardest part of the past year, personally, has been being so far from home. My family is in California and I haven’t seen them in person in two years.

We are hoping for a summer visit but will have to wait and see. For today, I am thankful for the NHS, my health, my two vaccine jabs, my family, my friends, my community, and swimming.

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