It’s still so strange to me that we were called key workers before ‘key worker’ became a word synonymous with a massive global pandemic. But it makes sense I guess, our job has always, by its definition and nature, put us in harm’s way – it’s just we don’t often stop to think about it. The type of people who become support workers, key workers, carers, healthcare workers are used to putting their own feelings or worries about their own safety to one side because there is always someone out there who needs us.
This past year has been different. We have been forced to confront our own safety in a way that we never had to before – suddenly wearing masks became the new normal, dousing yourself in hand sanitiser a daily occurrence, and going into someone’s home had the potential to be deadly.
Yet through all of this, we continued to do our jobs. And that meant putting ourselves at an even higher risk than we already were. I can almost certainly guarantee that, despite safety measures put in place, the majority of us have done something at work to put ourselves in danger during this pandemic – probably without a second thought – because it’s who we are. When someone is in dire need of help and support, we answer that call when nobody else will.
When I heard the announcement that the vaccines would be rolled out to health and social care workers I remember thinking – that won’t be us… it’ll be statutory services, we’ll just have to wait our turn. It made me feel dejected because we’ve all been on the front line for so long, working so hard, and taking so many risks. But then we were told that we were to be included, that we could be protected – that meant far more to me than any amount of applause on a Thursday night ever could.
I went and got my first vaccination today. It was amazing! The whole thing ran like a well-oiled machine, and everyone took the time and patience to explain what was happening clearly to me. There was an energy in the room that I haven’t felt for a long time in this pandemic – a sense that things were finally moving forward, that there was an end in sight. And yes, my arm is sore now – but it’s worth it.
It’s time for us to take a moment and turn our care and attention towards ourselves for once, because we’ve earned it. We spend our lives protecting others – don’t forget to protect yourself too.