Wayne & Bobbi-Jo O'Reilly

Father and Daughter - Wayne is a HLTA (High Level Teaching Assistant) and Deacon, and Bobbi-Jo is a Nursery Teacher at LEYF Wandsworth Bridge Nursery

What was a typical work day like before the corona crisis?
Wayne: Being both a teaching assistant and a deacon a typical working day can be quite challenging but rewarding at the same time. From Monday to Friday it is all about supporting the children in there learning and being able to provide them with experiences to get out into the community and learn about the world around them. Then throughout the weekend dedicating my time to my parish community and prayer. Being a Deacon means I get to meet and help new people all the time. So everyday does not feel like a working day – and it was a lot easier before the coronavirus.

Bobbi-Jo: Working at a nursery everyday is different. Some days are busy ,others are quiet. Everyday is a new learning experience and one for teaching new things. Nursery life before the corona virus crisis at LEYF was great. It always provides with new challenges and things to do, which increase knowledge and confidence within the childcare sector.

When the outbreak started, what was your initial reaction?
W: When everything first came out it was a very worrying time for the whole family. My thoughts and prayers went out to all of those in my parish community especially the elderly. As a Deacon I knew there were a lot of elderly people out there who were vulnerable and alone. I knew I had to step-up and do something. I also thought about the school and how it closing would impact the children’s education and how they would miss out on so many opportunities due to the virus.

B: My initial reaction was worry and panic. When the virus first broke out it was a very nerve wracking time not knowing what was going to happen or what we would do. First thoughts went out to our family and how we would support and help them and then second thoughts went to work and the children. How this would impact them and their families? Working for a social enterprise nursery made me worry about how it would affect all of our families, but especially those most vulnerable.

What impact did this have on your day job and how did you adapt?
W: My school was closed down until further notice and my parish church was also closed. This impacted both my jobs at the same time. This made it a bit of a worrying time for me as I did not know what to do. However I soon adapted and began to do what I could. In order to help my community and parish. Myself and my daughter reached out and volunteered our services. So we now on a daily basis deliver food to lots of different families. As soon as she finishes work and at the weekends we take the lists go and get what we can from the shop and we then go off around the community to deliver them to their homes. We are very lucky that she had recently passed her driving test and got her own car, otherwise it would have made it very difficult to get around like we do.

B: For me things have been sort of the same in terms of my job and working hours. I still attend the nursery everyday and teach the children. However it did impact the company a lot, we now have less children and less nurseries open. This meant we had to adapt to new people joining and leaving the team and new children being combined into the same nurseries. It was a confusing time at first but I think as a company we are like family and we have all come together so well.

What are the big challenges you have faced / are facing as the pandemic continues?
B: To be honest I think everyone is facing the same challenges we are. In terms of not being able to see family members and not being able do our normal day to day things. However I think we are quite fortunate as a family. I am still working and doing what I can, and so is my dad. I think our only worry is how long this could go on for. The longer it goes on makes it hard to know how many more families may need support and whether we will still be in a position to provide our services.

W: I agree. We are very fortunate as a family we are all doing our bit and supporting one another whilst at the same time helping the community. From the role of a Deacon it has been challenging to provide a mass to those who find comfort and reassurance through normally attending church. As a parish we have set up a virtual mass so our parishioners can access them online and be able to have some normality whilst at home. As the pandemic continues things will continuously change and we will do all we can to help where help is needed.

How have you kept going through the tough times?
W: Being able to get out and deliver the food packages and seeing the smile on peoples faces. Nothing gets better and more rewarding than that. Knowing that we are giving back and doing something helpful helps us to keep going.

B: I have found comfort in still being able to go to work. It has made things a lot easier for me to have normality throughout the week. Otherwise I think I would be constantly worrying and not knowing what to do with myself. I also think we have counted our blessings, knowing our family is safe and well and that we have the family that are in the household to spend time with.

What acts of kindness have you seen or shown that have made you smile recently?
B: I have seen the community really coming together. I have seen people supporting the elderly to do their shopping, letting them in front of the line, offering to pay for the shopping and even offering them a phone call just to have someone to talk to. I also really like the rainbows in the windows. Young children creating masterpieces to keep everyone going as they are driving through the community. Myself and my dad delivering parcels has made me smile as the reaction and appreciation we get is the most heart warming experience ever.

W: I have seen people visiting their families and having a chat through the window and seeing the smile on their faces is so good to see. Knowing that everyone is doing what they can to look after those who need it. I agree with Bobbi-Jo also the role we play with the parcels is the best thing to keep going and being able to offer prayers.

What has this crisis taught you – both professionally and on a personal level?
W: It has taught me on a personal level that even the smallest act of kindness can help so many people. It has taught me that family and friends are so precious and each and everyday is a gift.

B: Personally it has taught me to appreciate what I have and to value the time I have with my family. The crisis has definitely opened my eyes to how fortunate I am and that I do not need for anything. Professionally it has made me appreciate my job and see how rewarding my job is, that I am able to help and provide services to so many families during a pandemic really is great.

How are you trying to stay happy and healthy?
W: I am going for a walk with my dog on a daily basis and I am also reading new books and trying out new things. I am also appreciating having my family around me and spending time with them.

B: I am not reading social media stories, as the false and negative stories that come from there can be so misleading and cause so much stress and worry for people. I am getting out for a bike ride at the weekend and reading books to support me for my LEYF Degree, that I am due to start in September.