29 April 2021
Like many in the NHS, CNWL has a number of staff who come from or have family in India. And we recognise the truly awful scale of this disease and the suffering it brings, including for families here worrying about their loved ones, especially when they cannot travel. We stand with them.
We heard from staff who have children on gap years there and others who support charities; we are all affected by what we see and hear about the pandemic and know a global response is needed.
Our network for Ethnic Minority staff held a meeting on Wednesday to share stories and to support each other.
Varsha Dodhia, the Co-chair, facilitated the emotional meeting; stories were shared, experiences related and support offered from the meeting – including helping teams here understand what is happening and the impact it has on staff affected.
Varsha said, “The session gave people who wanted to (and were able to) say what is happening for them. The pandemic is global and CNWL has staff from around the world.”
One participant said, “Thank you for organising the Solidarity meeting. It was good to share/hear the different emotions staff are going through for their families in countries where Covid is at its peak. I am sorry I stumbled a bit, as it brought back memories and sadness. However glad that valid points were raised/heard and we look forward to some positive outcome.”
Dr Ryan Kemp , CNWL Director to Therapies offered staff this advice: “It is incredibly difficult to see the suffering in India, especially when some of our staff have family and friends there. It is made more difficult because it is so much more challenging to support from afar these loved ones. In brief I would suggest the following:
- Remember, like all Covid-19 pandemic waves, this spike in infections and deaths in India will pass. Support your staff, their family and loved ones to take the right precautions and tell them about how this has helped the waves in the UK to be managed. Share your knowledge and be positive.
- Weigh up what you can affect and what you can’t. Focus on what you can do and consciously accept what you can’t change. It can help to discuss this with someone, staff network and say this acceptance out loud.
- Once you know what you can do, for example raising money for charity, work on that trusting this will bring some relief to those that are suffering.
- Don’t neglect yourself during this time. Stay healthy for those that need you. Eat healthy; keep exercising; sleep enough and keep connected to others.
- Along with connection, don’t suffer alone. Talk to friends and family. Seek formal counselling if you think this will help.
- Although it is tempting to look for news on social media, this can make you feel worse. Be careful about sharing upsetting stories, as this will likely upset others. Set aside a small part of your day to do this, say 30 minutes, and try not to exceed this amount of time.”
Members of the public who are distressed should contact our Talking Therapy services for help: https://talkingtherapies.cnwl.nhs.uk/
Member of the staff network have donated to various charities like:
- Khalsa Aid International https://www.khalsaaid.org/
- The British Asian Trust https://www.britishasiantrust.org/latest/news-events/british-asian-trust-launches-oxygen-for-india-appeal/
- Ummah Welfare Trust India Covid appeal here: https://uwt.org/emergency-appeals/india-covid-appeal/
CNWL’s Lead Governor, Councillor Ketan Sheth, who also attended the meeting to offer his support, has written about his own experience https://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/ketan-sheth-on-covid-in-india-7932772