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This is a time to be kind to ourselves and each other

Stories from our Queensland volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic

Over 400 volunteers. 200 days and counting. And 100,000+ phone calls.

These numbers tell part of the story – but they don’t speak to the tears and laughter shared between our Queensland volunteers and the people they’ve been speaking to in hotel quarantine. They don’t tell us about the emotional impact of being separated from family, friends and fresh air. Some conversations are happy, some are angry, many are life-changing and all of them have left their mark on our volunteers.

“It’s been very rewarding, it’s been exhausting, but it’s very special to be in a position where you know the work you are doing is helping people.”

As part of the support Red Cross has been providing people impacted by COVID-19 around the country, volunteers have been making check-in calls to those in hotel quarantine to see how people are coping and provide psychological first aid where needed.

They’ve spoken to people travelling to funerals, to care for sick family members, to escape unsafe living situations. People travelling to join family in other parts of the country to be together during the pandemic, those coming home from overseas military service for the first time in months, and one person who was keeping her return home a secret to give her family and friends a happy surprise at the end of the 14 days.

“The pandemic has made me see how important it is for individuals to feel connected to their community.” – Molly

It’s difficult to understand how hard hotel quarantine is unless you’ve been through it. Most don’t have access to fresh air, there’s no choice in food and basic decisions like when to eat are regulated.

Whilst everyone understands why it’s important and necessary to do this to beat COVID-19, the impact on someone’s health can be immense, with many people reporting that they’re experiencing anxiety for the first time, and those with existing mental health conditions saying that the quarantine conditions have exacerbated them. People are worried about their families, their own health and what will happen after they leave quarantine.

You see people during some of the worst days of their lives. You share in their burden but also sometimes are the only contact [they have] with the outside world.

Jared

Each call is unique and callers are able to talk for as long as needed. Some conversations start with tears over the passing of a loved one and end with laughter and shared jokes. Some provide much needed practical help, connecting people with services for housing and financial support.

“Just the simple phrase ‘How are you today, are you ok?’ can have such a positive impact on someone in quarantine.” – Kathleen

There are also conversations that bring a smile: a couple about to have their first baby who took the hotel stay as an opportunity for one last ‘holiday’ before they become a family of three, poems shared between two writers and a mum grateful to have a break from cooking and doing dishes.

“It’s been wonderful to be part of this amazing team to create positive change and be of assistance to those that need it most. There’s nothing else that I would rather be doing during this unprecedented time.”

Throughout it all our volunteers are there, pouring their time and energy into every call, no matter what it brings. Every conversation is important, and every conversation makes things just a little bit better.

“In 70 years children will ask me what I did during the pandemic. I will say that it was a terrible time, but I did all I could to make it a little less terrible.” – Jared

You can help us spread even more kindness