My Latest Role Ali Wright Kara Chamberlain Theatre Key Workers

When Lockdown started I was working on producing a show at the Edinburgh Fringe with my theatre company, Crossline Theatre. We had just confirmed a slot and funding, and then lockdown began and it all unravelled quite quickly. My freelance non-theatre job stopped about a week before lockdown due to the impact of social distancing, and it will likely be a while before it can resume. I was not eligible for the freelance support scheme, but thankfully I am still on the payroll as cover-staff at Camden People’s Theatre where I have worked on a 0-hours contract. Despite not having the opportunity to cover for them since December, they were able to furlough me based on my income from last year. If they are able to continue through the summer it will make a dent in the pay I’ve lost. I am hugely grateful for this! It has helped take some of the stress off.

My key worker role is in a small independent health shop near where I live. For the lockdown period, the shop was the only non-supermarket business open in the area and a lot of people would come in to feel some sense of “normal”. A lot of our regular customers are vulnerable people who rely on us for supplements and natural remedies, locals in the area, and NHS staff who work at the nearby hospitals. Many people have come in and talked about loved ones they lost to the virus, their own experiences recovering from the virus or their fear and loneliness.

At the beginning of lockdown customers were incredibly grateful, and very happy to comply with our social distancing and safety measures. Then once the government announced that businesses could start opening I felt a distinct shift. In the first week of June, myself and my co-workers all had incidents where customers got upset, kicked up a fuss, or were outright rude to us about our social distancing (not allowing access to the whole shop, not taking cash, etc.). That was a hard week for me because I still felt just as at-risk. Some of the community seemed to no longer care that we were key workers; they wanted to go shopping normally again. Thankfully that is not true of all our customers, and many continue to keep us safe.