The Summer Foundation’s Curator, Emma Gee, chats with 1 of the organisation’s Lived Experience Facilitators, Shanais Nielsen, about their experiences of living in lockdown.
Shanais, you have lived through multiple lockdowns as a Melburnian. I was keen to hear about your feelings around this experience.
So, firstly, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do at the Summer Foundation as a Lived Experience Facilitator?
Yes, so I’m a LEF, and with this role comes a very broad range of jobs. Mainly, I co-facilitate workshops centred around SDA housing. I also do some outbound engagement, making calls to providers that might not know about the Housing Hub and the Summer Foundation. It varies week to week, but I absolutely love my job!
Shanais, we both have lived experience of disability and living in lockdown. I have found a daily fix of good coffee, yoga and walking my 2 cavoodles in fresh air are essential things to weave into my day.
How have you been going?
I was very lucky that during the big lockdown last year I was able to go back to my family home in NSW for 6 months, as I was very anxious about contracting the virus. Now that I am back in Melbourne, I think the hardest thing for me is staying calm. I get quite worried that I might get the virus from 1 of my support workers coming in and out and being out in the community. My support workers are amazing and it’s in no way a judgement on them, it’s just hard because they can only be so careful and with working in the community, just comes that risk! I think that’s been the hardest thing for me.
What have you found helpful to do in lockdown?
I am very grateful that I have a beautiful dog, so getting her to the park has been so refreshing as I think it’s so important for me to get out of the house. I have also found that cleaning out my apartment and de-cluttering makes a big difference clear environment, clear mind!
Can you tell us about anything new you did in lockdown?
I have some support workers that are amazing cooks, so we have been trying out some new recipes which has been fun! Anything to do with cooking or baking I was very interested in – while it might not be good for my waistline, it’s been fun!
Do you have a message for anyone living in lockdown?
Hang in there – we’re all in this together!
We are all going through such a hard time at the moment and managing our emotions can be so difficult. I really suggest being open to those around you about how you’re feeling because chances are everyone else is feeling the same. Talking about how you are feeling makes a big difference. It’s ok not to be ok, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do the little things that make you happy, because in times like this, the little things make a big impact on our happiness!
You can hear some other people’s thoughts from Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown here.