Covid-19 Reflections

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We asked professional painter and decorator Chris Kerfoot to let us have his reflections on the Covid-19 Crisis.

“It’s the 23th of March 2020 and the lock down has been announced. Well, where to start? These are surreal times so how do we deal with a situation that’s so unexpected? Of course, my first thoughts are, “How will it affect work” – “How will it affect family?”. I’ve been on a job a couple of weeks now (the loft room one featured on the P&D News website) and should be done tomorrow – payday!

Not one for politics, or religion for that matter I still sit down to watch The Government’s now regular evening announcements. Eagerly awaiting the plan for self-employed…. it’s coming I think, employed sorted, furloughed. But for the self-employed…. nothing. Now what? Do we work, can we work, should we work, and can I afford not to work?

“Stay at home save the NHS“ that’s the message. This could, I think, cause a problem between those that have had the choice made for them (as customers have cancelled or postponed) and those that like myself still have customers where I can carry on working safely. This is because I’m down to working on my own. My own personal view, right or wrong, is that the government left it vague and grey purposefully. If they stay say at home how many self-employed would they have to help financially along with everything else? Would the economy collapse?

In the end all I did was finish the job I was on and had two weeks off. Two of my internal jobs had been postponed. Part of me was disappointed at losing the work but part of me was thinking. “Yes, in their shoes I’d postpone tradesmen coming in”. I have elderly parents and I get it.

So, two weeks off! The lockdown list is started. Top of the list was “Paint my home office “. I’d only had the paint three years, yes three years! As we decorators know “A cobbler’s kids are poorly shod“ as the saying goes . And of course, my wife was delighted that the decorating finally got done!

The main thing I did was take the time off as a kind of pause/reset; time to sit back and take stock, I realised I’d been running around like a headless chicken putting pressure on myself for a long time. I’ve spoken to so many in my social media network have found themselves learning to appreciate what’s around them, like the garden, family & friends.

So how has the Crisis changed my working practices? Now its refusing drinks on jobs, not shaking hands with clients (which seems weird) when looking at jobs and being extra mindful of cleanliness on jobs. I have always ordered paint online so no problem with visiting merchants. Its tea breaks in the van, jerry can full of clean water and anti-bac hand wash (such an expensive commodity now) for regular hand washing.

I’m lucky most of my customers are very understanding and we keep in contact via WhatsApp – communication is key with customers I believe.

What does the future hold? Who knows only that with restrictions being lifted as I write this piece there are some positive signs. My feeling is that the trade will get back to a “new normal” quicker than seemed possible just a couple of months ago .

Covid-19 Reflections.
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