Michael Pulman – Hamilton
“We were as set up for Lockdown as best we could be. It was a pretty hectic time. We had about a week to get ourselves ready so that involved me having conversations with each of the staff. One staff member was quite afraid to come in because she was over 55.
It was quite stressful because obviously I was trying to balance staff needs, make sure we had PPE (personal protective equipment), get the signage we needed, and trying to make sure my partner Jess was okay as well.
The biggest worry before Lockdown was whether I would have any staff.
Jess and I were having conversations that week about what it looks like if I don’t have any support, what it would mean for our relationship if she would have to be my primary care giver.
We would have struggled with that because Jess is my partner. We struggled to get enough PPE equipment. Providers were scrambling; some were trying to import from overseas which isn’t exactly safe.
There was one situation two weeks into Lockdown where EGL (Enabling Good Lives) were working with a local company to provide PPE. They delivered mine to the wrong address and when we went to that address two doors up, it wasn’t there. They said nothing got delivered, the company swore black and blue that they’d delivered it and when I tried to get more delivered, they told us ‘we don’t have any’.
I played lots of PlayStation. The first week Jess and I tried to really spend a bit more time with each other than we would (usually). After a week it was pretty much doing our own thing.
I was still actively trying to keep busy with journalism and stuff. I wrote a few blogs during Lockdown and freelance articles for different organisations so that kept me busy.
It was stressful as well because all the opportunities were closing at the same time. I was trying to keep that door open.
I really missed going out in the first couple of weeks. A lot of people ask me what I’m doing when I drive up and down the street with my headphones on. That’s really my time to think about things, that’s where I make my big life decisions and have the hard internal conversations with myself that need having. I missed that.
Lockdown for me was probably seven out of ten. My staff did an incredible job, the ones that I had. Everybody was just so adaptable which I’m incredibly grateful for.
We didn’t end up applying for a wage subsidy, my worker who could not work used all her annual leave which I felt was unfair.
People with a disability suffered the most, particularly those without good support around them. My faith in Enabling Good Lives had been tested before Lockdown. The principles are good but it’s a different story doing it on a day to day basis.
We were crying out for disability leadership prior to Covid-19 and I think Covid has just exposed that we’re just at the bottom of the pile. We shouldn’t be sitting here saying because of Covid we’re finally seeing the light. Why didn’t we see it before?
I do see myself as a disability leader and take great pride in the advocacy I do carry out.
Living with a disability doesn’t make you the sole authority on the issues facing the sector (though) because your situation is different from somebody else’s.
My biggest take out from the whole Covid experience is that there’s still a vulnerability to the existing supports and it’s been exposed even more.” – 17 September 2020
- Trying The Good Life
- This article appeared in Life in a Pandemic, a book about disabled and autistic people in Covid-19 Lockdown, 2020. © Life Unlimited Charitable Trust.