Wood Green Animal Charity
Alison, Martin, Talia, Jane, Verna and Wendy
Photographed 1st June 2020 - 71 days into lockdown 

Responses by Alison, a team leader at Wood Green’s Heydon centre.

How and when did COVID enter your day-to-day world?

On 16th March, I took a call from one of the team to say that she had a high temperature and a cough. She was told to self-isolate and I completed my first COVID checklist. I had to inform everyone on site and we had to deep clean all the areas that she had been. Everything was ready and in place at Wood Green, but I think it was at this point that we all took the risks far more seriously.   

What is the biggest way the lockdown has changed your day-to-day life?

We’ve had to adapt the way we work at Heydon in order to ensure we are social distancing. With no members of the public on site, and the majority of staff on furlough, it’s very quiet! For those of us that have been coming to work as usual, there is a very surreal feeling, especially on days when there are only two of us on site. It will be nice to get the team back.

What moment in COVID ‘life’ stands out for you / do you think you’ll always remember?

Rehoming Harrison, a long-term FIV positive cat, after 272 days with the charity! Because of his FIV status, Harrison needed a very rural home with a low or no cat population. He could get very frustrated with a lack of space and could be a little naughty sometimes. Rehoming FIV cats is difficult at the best of times, but combined with some behavioural issues and lockdown, it just looked impossible. We managed it though! Seeing him find the perfect home has been a huge morale boost for everybody, and to get a picture from the new owner with him curled up contentedly on their lap was just amazing. 

What have been the good things about this period?

It’s been an excellent opportunity to work with some of the more difficult cats. We’ve been able to give them more freedom around the site and spend more time interacting with them in a quiet and peaceful environment. We’ve seen vast improvements in their behaviour, so this will hopefully help them find lovely new homes.   

What have been the most painful aspects of this period?

A few members of staff were due to leave the charity between mid-March and the beginning of April. We had a big night out planned, with all the staff and volunteers, but of course we had to cancel. Two team members had to self-isolate before their leaving dates, so we didn’t even get to say goodbye to them properly. It was incredibly sad that we couldn’t celebrate how important these people had been to Heydon. Not having volunteers on site has been really sad too. They are such a big part of the team and love coming here as much as we love welcoming them. 

What will you take from this time going forwards?

That we make a positive impact – not just on the pets in our care, but on the people that they eventually go to. Lockdown has been an incredibly isolating time for so many people and with many pets going on foster, it was as beneficial for the fosterers themselves as it was for the pets. One lovely lady, who has been safeguarding from her daughters and grandchildren, told me that the cat we sent to her had been an absolute lifeline, and she couldn’t imagine being able to get through the isolation without her. She has since officially rehomed her.

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