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Finding a new balance

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo's Scotland, shares his thoughts on finding balance during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Published on 17 April 2020

The news that lockdown will continue for another 3 weeks came as no surprise to anyone but we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of this announcement. It signals very clearly that the Coronavirus crisis is going on for quite some time to come.

The first couple of weeks when the pandemic really hit were amazingly busy for all of us as charity leaders with lots of new challenges to deal with. There was a genuine need to put in place new systems, make quick decisions and ramp up communications. It was a high adrenaline time.

Since the Easter break it feels a bit different to me. The number of crisis management video and telephone conferences have reduced, the new systems are working and frontline services are being delivered in new ways. There are ongoing challenges like securing sufficient PPE supplies but it feels that we are moving into a new phase of activity. As Winston Churchill famously said “it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

Many people seem to be settling into some sort of normality now and a few are even using the pandemic period as an opportunity. However there are many people for whom the lockdown and the virus fears are a growing source of anxiety. There has been much coverage in the media this week about a huge disruption to people’s sleeping patterns. Across Barnardo’s Scotland services the biggest problem being reported is the impact on mental health – both children and parents.

Our staff are right in the middle of this and now, more than ever, their ability to deal with anything beyond the immediate crisis is influenced by their own circumstances and mental state. This poses a real dilemma for us as charity leaders – how to get our teams to balance the management of the current crisis response with the need to look ahead.

We can all agree that we are in uncharted waters now but the perception of the sea differs enormously depending on which boat you find yourself in. The coming weeks are going to test us all and neither we nor the world will be the same when we come out the other side. The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami puts it better than I ever could:

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