On Tuesday 12 May Phil Orton, our Executive Director of HR reached out to me with an exciting opportunity.

He asked if I would be interested in joining a zoom call with HRH Prince William and other care workers, to discuss the unique challenges we were facing delivering care and support during the covid-19 pandemic.

I was absolutely over the moon to be considered and of course said yes without hesitation.

The next day I spoke with Karolina Gerlich, Executive Director of the Care Workers Charity who was facilitating the call, and with Prince William’s PA – I answered some questions about myself, my team and how we had adapted our support during the pandemic and they gave me more information about what to expect during the discussion.

The call with Prince William was to take place the very next day (Thursday 14 May) and although nervous I was excited to meet him. The call was confidential so only close family members and a small number of colleagues knew, which only added to the anticipation I was feeling.

I joined the zoom call from my office in Batley – I was joined by 5 other representatives from social care organisations.

HRH asked me and my team how we had been working differently to continue supporting people given the challenges of lockdown and social distancing.

I shared with Prince William and the other callers that:

It’s very important for my staff team that they don’t feel isolated, so as a team we support each other, with WhatsApp and texts. We have lunch together on Skype and try to keep each other going.

I shared just how important it is for us as a team to protect and look after ourselves, because if we’re not well, we can’t look after someone else.

We discussed how flexibility was key to us keeping our support services running, whilst also protecting our team – I currently have one colleague who is shielding.

The Duke continued to ask us questions about how we were feeling and how we were balancing work and family life. He also complimented me on my ‘awesome beard’ and asked him how fasting was going during social distancing.

The call was meant to last just 45 minutes but we carried on chatting with Prince William for over an hour.

At the end of the call HRH said thank you to us and all care workers for the “fantastic job” we are doing. He said “It’s hugely appreciated and acknowledged”.

“I hope we see a shift in attitudes towards the care sector and an appreciation for all the wonderful things you all do”.

When the call finished I was in complete awe of what had just happened. I was so pleased that I had got the opportunity to meet and speak with Prince William. The time he took to meet and talk with us just shows how much social care means to him and the Royal Family.

His sincere thanks were very much appreciated and the profile this discussion will give social care is exactly what our sector needs. I think Prince William has a very promising future as king.

The call was set up by the Care Workers Charity, which was founded in 2009 to support current and former care workers with one-off crisis grants and advice. The charity has set up a coronavirus care workers emergency fund to provide financial aid to care workers who are self-isolating.

Saj Daji, 49, is a team leader for adult health and social care charity Making Space. Mr Daji is a social research graduate with 20 years’ experience in social care, and manages seven workers across three local support services: Kirklees Floating Support, Kirklees Supported Housing and Leeds Supported Housing in Hunslet. https://yo

 

www.makingspace.co.uk

www.thecareworkerscharity.org.uk/