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CEO Blog: A year into the pandemic

Jonathan Whalley St Christopher's Chief Executive“I write this blog on 23 March 2021, a date that marks the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK, followed by similar restrictions on the Isle of Man on 26 March 2021. This is an opportunity to reflect back on the experiences of the last 12 months, to consider what impact it has had on our work at St Christopher’s and to celebrate the successes our young people have achieved in these most difficult of times.

This time last year we had already spent several weeks considering the impact of a potential pandemic, planning for worst case scenarios and ensuring that our Business Continuity Plans were updated and would work. The primary focus was how we would be able to keep our services up and running and make sure that all our children, young people, foster carers and staff would be safe and well cared for. This was time well spent – when lockdown hit, we were already prepared for office closures and home working.

There is a personal cost to the pandemic. Many of us will have either had the virus ourselves, or have family and friends who have been ill, and in some cases have lost people close to us.

Despite these times of unprecedented hardship and difficulty, I am proud to say that not one of our services or homes has been forced to stop, and not one child has been displaced or forced to move because of the pandemic. Even during the worst stages of the pandemic, our colleagues have worked back to back shifts or extended their hours to make sure that there is a continuity of care. This bravery and dedication has been and continues to be shown by everyone who plays a role to care for and support our children and young people, and not just in St Christopher’s – all the brilliant foster carers, residential workers, education teams, therapists and participation teams have played an immeasurable role in this pandemic.

In the most difficult of times, I have seen evidence of our values in practice across all our services. Foster carer and staff’s flexibility and professionalism has enabled our children to ensure their care plans have been met and outcomes achieved. There has been such incredible creativity in helping our children to be home-educated and entertained, and the care and support provided by the teams at St Christopher’s has engendered a sense of safety and security in these troubled times.

In years to come, each one of us will reflect back on the pandemic. We will think about the struggles that we endured and mourn our losses. For our young people, I hope that they will look back and remember feeling safe and cared for at St Christopher’s.”