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News & Events > Students step up to the front line during the Corona Crisis

Students step up to the front line during the Corona Crisis

Posted on 05 May 2020

Our students working hard on the front line

It's been great hearing some truly inspiring stories about how our students (from Guildford and Merrist Wood Colleges) have been carrying out vital work to support their communities during the current lockdown. Here's what some of them had to tell us. 

Katy Ruddy, 19 and Lauren Straffon, 18, are both in their final years at Guildford College studying Level 3 Health and Social Care and are working in local care homes.  

Katy, who is going on to university to train to be a Midwife, says: “Unlike many people my age, I’m working through this awful time, I’m working hard to ensure that we fight through this pandemic. I’m nineteen years old and I love my job, I love what I do every day, I enjoy making a difference to individuals lives. I also love my team and colleagues from work, how close we are and how we have changed to be able to attack this virus. 

"But things are not always that easy, the atmosphere when I walk into work has changed, the mood has changed and we are trying so hard to battle the virus. 

"As a carer of nearly three years, I have never faced a challenge as hard as this, the first day we had a positive case within the home was when it had hit reality that we weren’t safe from this pandemic. 

"We like to appear calm on the outside to ensure the residents don’t see the fear within our faces, but deep down I think “I’m only nineteen, what if contract this virus? What if my plans later in life can’t happen?” 

"I do have days off, although I struggle to sit at home knowing that my colleagues are working so hard when I’m at home not doing anything. 

"The PPE is also something that is hard to cope with, I’ve struggled to get used to it - but I am lucky that I have what I need to work during this outbreak. 

"By the end of my shift, I’m tired, I sometimes have marks on my face from the facemasks and I am tired of being under layers of aprons and gloves. Within this crisis, I have learnt to trust my knowledge and to face my fears. Each day changes and you never know what is going to happen next, is a resident going to come down with a temperature and it is going to spread again? 

"It’s been weeks since I have started working through this pandemic and the fear has not left, the residents can’t see their family, we are the ones who have to tell them everything is going to be alright when deep down, is it? There are currently twenty-six residents within the home and, sadly, three have passed away due to Covid -19. 

"It’s very hard being young and having to face what is going on, I never thought I would watch a death at such a young age. I am proud of myself and my team and I know we are all going to fight this battle.” 

Lauren, who is 18 and is going to university when she has completed her college course, hopes to become a paramedic and says: “I don’t really feel like I’m in lockdown. My mum, dad and myself are all key workers so it still feels normal for us to be going out to work at all times. I work in a sheltered accommodation facility that provides extra care to vulnerable adults, including those with dementia, mental health, complex health needs and more.  

"Working in these unprecedented circumstances is very difficult, it’s a scary time for all of us, but morale is high at work. We’re taking each day at a time. We have had confirmed cases, but we are all working as hard as we can in an effort to keep not only our service users safe, but ourselves safe too. 

“I’m working quite a bit more with this going on.  It’s been very difficult, I miss seeing my grandparents as they’re deaf, but I know that the joint effort and how everyone has come together for this means hopefully I can see them soon enough and life will start going back to normal. We’re lucky to be protected at work with masks, aprons, gloves and more. I’m still worried about the possibility of myself and my family becoming ill, but that doesn’t stop me looking after my residents. 

“Working has been hard. I worry for my colleagues, family, my residents, but we can’t show them that we’re frightened. We are the only people that they see and although we’re nervous, we’re not around them. We can’t be. We have to make sure we reassure them, even when we don’t know what’s going on. 

“I’ve lost two service users to Covid-19. From all of this I've learnt that life is too special to waste and we should enjoy each day as if it really is our last.  It’s been difficult, knowing that this virus can be so deadly, but I love my job and I love what I do, I love the difference I can make to people’s life, and amongst all of this, we’re still having fun.  

“Whatever happens, I know that we’ve tried our best, my hands are red raw from washing them and my face is blistering near my nose. So to my work, my colleagues and everyone else, we can get through this. We have to.” 

Public Services students at Merrist Wood College are also working hard to provide important functions in their communities.  

Level 3 Public Services student, Hayden Jones, has been volunteering for his local council (Petersfield) during the current crisis. Hayden goes shopping and picks up prescriptions three times a week for high risk and vulnerable people. He collects shopping lists from people's homes (whilst respecting all social distancing guidelines) and off he goes, always on foot as he doesn’t yet drive. Hayden has applied for the Royal Marines and is awaiting a start date and, as he says, the exercise is good for him! 

Another Level 3 Public Services student, Josh Gavanes, 19, has also stepped up to help during the coronacrisis. During his college course, Joshua used to volunteer at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford and is now a vital worker, employed as a Porter conveying patients between wards including ICU, delivering medicines and oxygen to wards. Josh combines his long shifts (including nights) with his studies.  His tutor, Paul Mizzi reports that Josh is always “positive and smiling” and as he nears the end of his nearly three years of study at both Level 2 and Level 3 at Merrist Wood College, he “embodies the drive and passion of a public servant”. 


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