Since March 2020, like the rest of the world, Nightingales has been feeling the effects of the global pandemic. We have been adhering to the restrictions placed by the Romanian authorities on Romanian citizens to help combat the spread of the virus, which has meant we have had to change the way we work. You can read our earlier blog post to see our initial response to the Covid-19 crisis, https://nightingaleschildrensproject.co.uk/2020/05/06/our-response-to-covid-19/
Since May we have been functioning in a ‘new normal’, this has meant new guidelines have been drawn up and they way we run activities has had to change. Normally in the summer Nightingales is buzzing with activity, volunteers, groups visiting and hundreds of young people and children from Cernavoda enjoying the range of activities that are on offer. This summer it is was eerily quiet at Nightingales with very few activities going on. This was sad to see, but also a positive in some ways for the beneficiaries who are supported by Nightingales. They got to participate in activities more specifically designed for their needs, in adherence to local and national legislation regarding Covid-19.
The older girls in the scheme took over the role of volunteers, weekly running activities for the younger girls; teaching them about hygiene, cooking, team work and many other life-skills. It was fantastic to see the older girls develop and grow into these roles, with the activities becoming more focused and well run as the summer went on. The younger girls enjoyed and looked forward to these sessions. During the summer the girls were helped, supported and sometimes pushed into reading their way through the library housed in the coffee shop. This meant that the girls have hit the ground running in the new school year, they have all improved and progressed in their reading, writing and basic arithmetic. One of the girls who has been struggling for three years to remember her alphabet and to read basic sounds, is now reading full sentences.
The differently abled adults who live in the Nightingales house have not been able to go on their annual holiday, something they always look forward too, or enjoy the range of activities with the volunteer groups that come to Nightingales. We have had to change and adapt their programme to make sure that they have a variety of activities to help aid their mental health and well being. This has meant that we have been going on a greater number of afternoon outings in the local area, but, away from crowded places, and they have been helping out with various construction projects that we have had at the house. Although these projects have taken longer than normal, the sense of accomplishment for these young people has been huge. They do miss the volunteers and usual summertime adventures, but they have been enjoying the new range of activities.
The young men from the football team saw their season end in March having only played half their games. Our summer training camp unfortunately had to be cancelled just as the 2020-21 season itself looks in danger of being cancelled. The young men although sad about their lack of game time have taken this opportunity to spend their summers working, earning money. A few of them due to the prospect of not playing any football have also applied for jobs overseas and are working in England, Germany and France. This is a huge positive as they are learning new skills and also gaining valuable work experience.
As you can see this has been a time of change at Nightingales, we have also been able to spend time working with the leadership team in Romania and the trustees in the UK, via Zoom, to work out a plan of how we can move forward financially in the next few years, which we predict will be hard for so many people. We have made the decision to keep offering the same opportunities to the young people in our care whilst making investments short term to reduce the amount of money we are therefore spending long-term. In spite of all these changes we will continue to aim to offer a high level of care to all our beneficiaries.