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West Leeds: A Day in the Life of a home carer

Armley resident 21-year-old Freya Parnham loves her job as a home carer for Solomon Lonsdale, 18. In an interview with community reporter Jo Fiddes she talks about why she does what she does, the challenges she faces while socially distancing, and her hopes for the future. 

Armley carer Freya Parnham.

The day begins…

After a year holding down three jobs to save up to go travelling, Freya was enjoying all that Portugal had to offer when the extent of the coronavirus pandemic became clear.

She took the decision to cut her travelling short, fearing she might get stranded abroad.

Less than a fortnight after setting off, Freya was back in the UK:

“I felt really disappointed that my travels were over almost before they had begun, but on the plus side it meant my previous job as a home carer hadn’t been filled so I was able to step straight back into work.”

There’s no such thing as a typical day – her shift start times and lengths vary depending on need. She sometimes walks to Farsley or Pudsey, where Sol’s parents live – this can take up to an hour.  

“I used to do care work in Roundhay but now I work closer to home as it didn’t feel safe getting two buses across the city.  I avoid going anywhere there may be other people, and that includes buses and shops. I try and walk whenever I can, although I do get a taxi if it’s raining!”

Freya supports 18-year-old Solomon Lonsdale

The day unfolds…

Freya and Sol start the day by working through any college work he has been set.

“We are a similar age and have similar interests – one of my favourite parts of the job is talking about politics and history together. We used to go into town for food or to visit museums but now that we can’t go out as much, we watch documentaries and talk about them.”

The pair also work on life skills, such as preparing lunch and eating it together.

An unexpectedly stressful activity is going for a walk for some fresh air. Whilst this adds a level of risk, both feel it is essential for Sol’s well-being.

Even before coronavirus, such an excursion took some planning, as the pair are often confronted with cars parked on the pavement and over dropped curbs, and bins left out for collecting, which make it difficult for Sol to drive his chair.

Now add to this the additional factor of keeping 2m socially distant and it means the pair really have to keep their wits about them. Sol says:

“You can’t go outside much anymore, the only thing you can do is stay at home and be safe.”

Solomon out and about with Freya before the lockdown

The day ends…

Evening activities vary. Freya enjoys watching TV, reading, and meditating. On the days she’s not working, she tries to go out for a run or do some yoga.

“I do worry about coronavirus – everyone does. I don’t think I’m immune just because I’m young. I’ve developed a really close relationship with Sol and I worry about him too.

“Care work is personally but not financially rewarding – it’s often challenging and takes patience and skill.

“We do it because we know it matters. One positive thing to come out of the pandemic is that those in caring professions seem to be appreciated more. I really hope that in the future, when all this is over, people remember our contribution and continue to value what we do.”

Check out more articles in the ‘Day in the Life’ series – including the story of lonely 88-year-old Doris from Pudsey – here.

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