My theatre work was already winding down before lockdown; my bread and butter comes from immersive events and children’s entertaining, COVID had already reduced bookings significantly, with some venues having already made the tough decision to (temporarily) close.
I self-isolated just before lockdown was announced as I had symptoms. After I felt better I applied to every job. I was offered a role as a cleaner at the Royal London Hospital but I needed to attend training which was before my isolation was to end so I had to decline.
Two days post isolation I had a phone call from a recruiter asking if I wanted to start cleaning at Homerton Hospital. Anyone who knows me knows cleaning isn’t my favourite thing, but in strange times we have to adapt. I was there for a month, 12 hours a day, four days a week.
The biggest challenge, other than me not being an avid cleaner, was the things I saw, the things I heard. The very worst day was when I was assigned to clean the neonatal intensive care. Not COVID, but sick babies. Tiny, beautiful, sick babies. Cleaning up the blood from an emergency procedure on an infant was more than I could handle. The hospital was full of staff doing their best, making jokes, trying to keep spirits up. All whilst masking the pain and fear that they admitted in private. Two staff members died of Covid whilst I was working there. Seeing their colleagues deal with that isn’t something I’ll forget.
I vented on social media a lot. I video called friends and family. I hugged my cat. Then the regular staff came back so agency staff were cut. I only found this out after travelling across London for a 7.30 am start and being told I “wasn’t on the list”.
I was accepted on a training course to be a carer. I passed the course and thoroughly enjoyed it but the assignments were slow to come in. Whilst waiting, I got a call from another recruiter for the upcoming test and trace call centres. I’ve been here ever since.
I know far too many people who have fallen through the cracks. As a performer you invest in your business constantly so “profits” aren’t usually high, therefore 80% of profits don’t tend to be enough to live on.