Published: 01 June 2020

Neighbours assist war veteran in challenging times

Kerstine Lawley, Director of Learning and Teaching for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management has supported neighbours, including a war veteran in these challenging times.

Kerstine Lawley

The Covid-19 pandemic has struck our elderly community particularly hard, with the Government advising many to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact to protect themselves. While shielding our vulnerable is vital, lockdown has isolated this group, asking them to forgo some of their independence and daily routines overnight.

Director of Learning and Teaching for the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Kerstine Lawley definitely has a full-on lockdown schedule. As well as juggling delivering online teaching to her students and simultaneously keeping her three- and four-year-old boys entertained, we would like to congratulate Kerstine for going the extra mile to find time to help her vulnerable neighbours.

When lockdown arrived, Kerstine promptly signed up to the Blackwater Covid-19 Facebook community support group. The volunteers set to work designing flyers offering their neighbours assistance with anything from dog walking and collecting medicines, to organising food deliveries, and then divided their local area into two or three streets for each volunteer to flyer. As a result, Kerstine and her family have been supporting several of their neighbours, including an elderly war veteran and his vulnerable wife, who are both at home shielding and no-longer able to run errands themselves.

Kerstine explains: “He was a little nervous about accepting help from a stranger to begin with, but now I think he looks forward to me calling to make sure he’s ok and find out if he would like any support. He needs medication to be collected and delivered regularly, which has formed part of my family’s daily exercise routine. The boys enjoy delivering the medicine to his doorstep, and I know he enjoys seeing visitors, albeit at a distance.

“One week he asked if there’s any chance we could pick up some pudding rice for him – I said ‘rice pudding’? But no, he definitely wanted ‘pudding rice’, to make rice pudding himself. I’d never heard of it! But I posted the request on the volunteer group, and sure enough, someone came forward to donate their pudding rice which we collected and then delivered.

“Life is confined at the moment and it’s good to have a sense of purpose. I wanted to give something back to the local community, and this is a nice way to bridge the gap between those who need help and those who have the time to help them. And I think it’s a relationship that we will continue even after the lockdown is lifted.”

Out of a difficult situation, it’s Community Champions like Kerstine who make this sudden lifestyle shift more bearable, easing stress and isolation for the vulnerable members of our community. It’s about making the time to support others and appreciate the little things in life. Like pudding rice.

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