Would you believe that the day after after I wrote my last entry the letter we had been waiting for landed on the mat which let my husband, Andrew, know what the Scottish Government were planning for those in shielding. Whilst not perfect, it’s been a huge relief to have something. We registered his details via a phone number which promised to give us access to the delivery of a weekly essential grocery box, priority supermarket delivery slots, and a number of other forms of assistance should we need them. The arrival date also signalled the official start of our 12 week countdown, so we now know that the soonest we’ll be emerging from the flat will be June 20th.
The information in the letter has meant that I’ve been able to free up a little brain space to start establishing a routine for us. Andrew is lucky enough to be in a position that he can work from home, and we have found through trail and error the best working hours for him are 08:00 until 16:00. He’s also finishing up the corrections on his PhD thesis, so his evenings and weekends are pretty full of that, but we’ve set aside Friday nights for a takeaway (from a small local place), then Saturday night is 90’s film and ice cream night.
As a distraction I signed up for some illustration courses that helped me figure out some great Procreate tips and tricks. I’m also working on a piece of writing as part of a much larger creative project, whether it all comes together or not remains to be seen but I promised myself I’d write more for this piece of work in 2020 and I’m proud of myself for doing so under the circumstances. Lastly for this month I’m sewing again! I started with some alterations after a wardrobe sort out and I’m moving on to making my own clothes, which I’ll definitely write more about in the near future.
Sadly, we spent a lot of April still struggling for supermarket slots, which meant that we needed to put in for the weekly food box I mentioned above. After a couple of false starts and some chasing up, our first box arrived a month after we went into shielding and this is what it looks like:
It’s absolutely wonderful that this facility exists for vulnerable people in shielding, it helped us when we really needed it, but as it didn’t address Andrew’s dietary needs we redoubled our efforts on the delivery slot front and got back on the phones. The supermarkets told us to speak to the local council, and – as I’m sure you may be able to guess – the local council told us to speak to the supermarkets. We finally got onto the priority delivery slot list with Tesco on 24th of April, but we had to phone multiple times then practically beg and give them our life story. It turned out that it had taken until the bank holiday weekend for the Scottish Government to provide the highly vulnerable list to the supermarkets, but we never did receive any contact either way.
I hate the idea of being on any kind of list, but especially a list of vulnerable people that is being referred to as ‘freely available’. Who is it freely available to? And what for? It certainly doesn’t feel like it is being used for much that might actually help us as a disabled couple in shielding. Disabled people are the only group who have not seen an increase to any benefits they receive and had no additional monetary support, plus as I’ve mentioned before even with help from family in sending us essential items we cannot get hold of, we are spending a small fortune. At least we’re supporting our local small businesses in a time they are struggling too, but we can’t afford to do it forever.
So communication this month has been better but things are still up and down; we are getting the big ideas but not necessarily the details. Yet, overall, it isn’t all doom and gloom: we tick over day to day. The routine building we were keen to start this month has been helping, as has the handful of creative endeavours I’ve picked up. Regardless of how long it took, we now have access to priority shopping slots and stock levels at supermarkets seem to be better, although I’d love to get my hands on some plain flour! I’ve also finally stopped watching the news all day, which feels like a big achievement, but I still watch the lunchtime briefing by Nicola Sturgeon to listen out for any developments for people in shielding.
We’re on week 7 of shielding, but due to the delay in receiving the government’s letter we have ‘officially’ done 4 weeks. As we move into May the main aim is for Andrew to get his thesis corrections sent off by the end of the month, and to spend more time outdoors in our communal garden when the other flats aren’t using it rather than just sunbathing in the living room. Personally, as I’m not buying anything non-essential (i.e. clothes) I’d like to make up some tops and dresses this coming month with the fabric I’ve had for a while. 8 weeks to go!