When lockdown began I was supposed to be directing at the Tate for the National Youth Theatre. I had just signed with a new agent, had recently finished a show at Vault Festival and had done my first British soap and a couple of commercials. Immediately six months of work was cancelled overnight. That was combined with a lot of sudden loneliness as I thrive on being in a room with lots of different people at work.
My first thought was to apply to clean in hospitals, or work in a supermarket but as I realised more about the virus and its possible dangers for me as an asthmatic Mixed Race person, I wanted something local that would mean I could still be around people but at a safe distance. I discovered the Islington Mutual Aid groups, from there I found out about Feast, a charity that provides healthy home cooked meals for people.
For Islington Mutual Aid, I do shopping for an elderly neighbour and pick up medicines, pension and pay their bills every week. For Feast, once a week we arrive at the women’s refuge and local markets have donated fresh fruit and veg. It’s a bit like Ready, Steady, Cook as we have to decide on a menu and then cook for twenty people. It has been challenging at times. Especially when one evening we turned up to find no food donations had been given - yet 20 people still needed to eat. We still managed to make chapatis, a Katsu curry, fairy cakes and a veggie chilli!
I was eligible for the first SEISS (Self-Employed Income Support Scheme) grant but at 80% of self-employed profits based on years between 2016 and 2019 it only just covers my rent and bills.
I do think people in the arts are often at the forefront of volunteering. Both times when I volunteered in the Calais refugee camps there were a lot of other volunteers from the theatre and film industry.