• Naseem Syed

Helping Hands by Susan Mizon

Nanny Sue and Thea

I am a retired teacher and have been sharing the bringing up of my granddaughter Thea since her mother died when she was 16 months old. I love to garden and was working with Maindee School and Community House on a Food For Life project before Covid 19 shut everything down.

Has lockdown changed you? How? Why?

It hasn’t really changed me but it had an awful effect on Thea, from a happy, confident, thriving child she became extremely anxious and challenging. She had always spent days of each week at my home so when we were separated by the first lockdown it had a catastrophic effect on Thea. She was locked in the house for hours each day, lost her routine and lost contact with other important people in her life, school, friends, activities and the outdoors which she has always loved.

What made you smile or brought you joy in lockdown? Can you explain it?

When it was decided on medical grounds that Thea must be allowed to have daily contact with us. I took over her home schooling and we spent the gloriously sunny spring and summer mainly in the garden. I watched her re-bloom into her previous happy self gradually over the months.

Have you changed since lockdown? Tell me why.

My life has been changed as the effect of lock down on elderly parents was so severe. We are now dealing with dementia that was certainly exacerbated by the isolation of lockdown. To minimise contact We have become the main support for 3 parents in their 80’s and this places a big demand on my husband and I.

What is the story behind your hand art?

Thea is a very kind child, she had become aware that some people are homeless when we saw tents under the Malpas Road flyover. She was very worried about how they were managing during lockdown. When she list her first tooth she decided to give the money left by the tooth fairy to help homeless people. Family and friends decided to match her generosity and we took her to the Eden Gate homeless shelter to hand over a donation of £130. When we were asked to create something including hands I thought this an ideal subject for us. We loved drawing around our hands, decorating the cut-outs and then making hand prints. We finished the collage with dots and swirls and Thea signed it from both of us with love to Naz.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

We had tried to do zoom gymnastics to keep Thea in touch with her class but she was so anxious that it was a disaster. I tried the art activity run by Naz without a lot of confidence it would work but Thea loved it. She was so calm and happy making her tissue flowers with Naz’s on-line support and it seemed to mark a turn in her confidence and happiness . She took the flowers and decorated vase to Beechwood Park to place at a commemorative tree that has been planted there for mother. Thanks Naz.

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