My name is Darren Maun. I have a wife and two children. I don’t consider myself to be vulnerable.
I was hoping the crisis wasn’t going to be as severe as it has been because I work in the West End as an electrical engineer and life is really busy for me.
The recent crisis has affected me personally. I’ve just lost my dad. He passed away in early March. He had cancer, but we believe it may have been corona. The worst thing at the moment is not being able to console my siblings. That’s been a tough time. It’s been FaceTime only, nothing physical. We even had to keep safe distances at the cremation. There was no option to even have a full service. It was tough. Tough.
My best friend is a carpenter and also became ill about a month ago. He is strong and was able to fight, and so he got through it, thank goodness.
The community has reacted well to the crisis overall. I think everybody has drawn from the positives. I’ve got a dog, so I walk the dog regularly and even with practising safe distancing, people are smiling, friendly and approachable. Within passing I can ask, “How are you?”. People wish you good luck and they seem to be positive. I think it’s brought the community together.
In terms of coping with the social distancing measures, I’ve been furloughed from work, so in my company 30 engineers look after London. 20 people were first furloughed at the end of March and then the other 10 were too. However, some have gone back already. I am now on week five. I’ve increased my voluntary hours times ten at Future Youth Zone as I’m available now. I’ve also redecorated the house and I’ve been occupied, which is good because I need to be doing stuff and staying active so I need these commitments.
Future Youth Zone, where I volunteer at in the evenings is usually buzzing with young people, vibrant people. I get involved with general topics, sport and music, generally. The only thing that’s changed is that Future has had to adapt its offer to young people, using social media to bring them a Youth Zone at home. They are still focused on ‘How can we help the community? Can we still have challenges? Can we contact and involve the young people so that they know they are being thought of and cared about?’.
When this is all over, we can go back to normality. On that side it’s been difficult. It is taking a long time. We now deliver leaflets to the local neighbourhood and pick up deliveries or medication. My role has changed. I was spending time with young people and now it is completely different, I am helping the wider community. It is still helpful and enjoyable though, because we are being productive.
The crisis has brought us to work even more closely with organisations in our community. Throughout this time, we have strengthened our partnerships with lots of great organisations. What is nice is that we’ve been chatting and helping each other. They send volunteers too, so it’s not just Barking, it’s actually joining communities outside of the area too.
Anybody that wants to and is able to helps. It’s like nothing else matters. All I think is, ‘What can I do, and how can I do it?’.
Your age, background and gender does not matter in this situation. I’m just hoping we are going to start coming out gradually because it seems the world has just absolutely stood still.