“The resilience of Polio survivors seems to shine in the most difficult times”


Responding to COVID-19: voices from our membership

We have been asking our memberships to share their experiences of COVID-19. Kripen Dhrona is Operations Director at the British Polio Fellowship, one of our newest members. He shares the Fellowship’s experience of coping with COVID-19, and how they are meeting some of the challenges they have been facing.

During lockdown our team has mostly been working from home, rallying together to make it work for the Fellowship and our members. Dawn (our amazing office and finance manager) has been going into the office since April and has been the glue that has helped us to stick together. Many members I have spoken to tell me how happy they are that we are still here for them and working to meet their needs.

We have weekly Zoom staff meetings so we can get some “face time” with each other and keep the team spirit alive.  It’s amazing how much we take face-to-face contact for granted – what would have been a quick shout out across the office can end up being a 20-30 email exchange.

We’ve all had our challenges over this period. For me it’s been home-schooling (which has been an eyeopener – let’s never take our teachers for granted). We’ve all worked together as a team to help each other meet these challenges. The key has been to communicate a lot. I must thank everyone in the team for doing all they can to make things as smooth as possible, and David Mitchell (Chairman) and the Board for supporting us during this time as well.

Keeping our fellowship alive and kicking

Our branches / regional groups have been finding different ways to stay in touch, including Zoom, Facebook, phone-a-friend schemes and WhatsApp. This has meant that although the branches are not actually meeting, the fellowship aspect of our wonderful organisation has remained alive and kicking. This is especially important for those who were already battling loneliness, and now may feel even more lonely.  I hope they will continue to reach out to us, and we can continue to help them feel less isolated.

We have continued to help members with the usual challenges they face, but also new ones such as getting on the shielding list, getting help from their council and getting shopping delivery slots amongst many other issues.

Many members have recounted tales of the Polio outbreaks in the last century, and many parallels have been drawn between the current crisis and those dark days. The resilience and forbearance of Polio survivors always seem to shine in the most difficult times. Who knows what the new “normal” will look like, but we will face it together and continue to tackle whatever is thrown at us in the true spirit of fellowship.

The British Polio Fellowship is a membership organisation dedicated to helping and supporting people living with the effects of Polio and Post Polio Syndrome (PPS) to lead full, active lives. Find out more on the British Polio Fellowship website.