Melissa's Story

For many people, this year has been challenging and unpredictable. The lockdown restrictions have meant our typical day to day lives have changed and for some people put on hold altogether.

Initially, I found these new measures quite difficult. My social interactions were diminished, and I could no longer see my family and friends.

The lockdown also stopped my ability to volunteer at Hestia. For a while, I had been gaining confidence at head office with their Customer Insight team. As a former service user, I feel like I have a good understanding of what it can be like when getting support. That is why I joined the Better Lives Forum (BLF), a dedicated group to help feedback to services how they can do better. The BLF welcomes people from Hestia’s services to meet up and share ideas about how we can improve our services.

When the possibility of remote working was suggested, I was interested in taking part – mainly because it was a welcome distraction from the pandemic – and that it would help keep me focused.

I was very nervous about Zoom calls as I had never taken part in anything like this. However, once I downloaded the app and learnt how it works, I found this a great way of connecting with others.

After that, my interactions started to improve. I co-produced safeguarding training with Gayle Lowery-Jones, Regional Director of Operations and presented to the Directorate and Board of Trustees. Even though it’s over Zoom, I always aim to deliver high-quality training, and I am really proud of myself.

Over the year, I have learnt so much about myself. I know I am hardworking and I am hoping that 2021 will bring some form of normality so I can put what I have learnt this year into practice. I am a courageous person, and the hurdles of 2020 have shown me I can jump over anything in my way.