Last month we launched our Long Covid Research Appeal, to support vital studies taking place in Nottingham into the effects and possible treatments for Long Covid.
In our blog, Long Covid research volunteer Andy Warren, who has volunteered in the NHS for 40 years, tells us how and why he became involved.
Prior to the March 2020 Covid-19 restrictions being applied I was an active frontline Volunteer at both QMC Emergency Department (ED) and Royal Derby Hospital ED / Diagnostic Imaging, carrying out three sessions a week across the two sites.
The imposition of the various lockdowns including the cessation of all NHS volunteering for over 70s came as a major shock, slightly modified by the idea that it would be short-term (a major falsehood).
So, from the end of March 2020, I went from someone very active both physically and mentally to being isolated at home with no serious social engagement (very lonely). In the early days the only diversions were the introduction of virtual MS Teams meetings.
So, I dropped back on my favourite at-home hobby of gardening and proceeded to spend a serious amount of time and money on the garden, one of the few activities allowed at the time.
I also transferred from being a general NUH Volunteer (based in ED), to be a Research and Innovation (R&I) Volunteer, still under the same umbrella of rules and requirements but with a different remit of Public Patient Involvement (PPI) in research projects, especially in Covid-19.
The regular virtual meetings, both formal (sort of) and informal (very) enabled me to get some of the missing socialisation and mental activity back into my life.
There was a problem in that I went to a Secondary Technical School that did not teach Biology to boys, so I had to do some serious learning in the areas of biology, such as genetics, cell structures and immunology. Along with the way that clinical research projects are organised and controlled. All this in an effort to understand and cope with the contents of the paperwork and discussions generated by research proposals. Another excuse to spend money on textbooks! (any excuse!)
This mix of R&I virtual meetings and “heavy” learning gave me a new purpose in life to fill the gaps now that the weather had curtailed my gardening activities.
Overall, my acceptance into the R&I Volunteer Group, very ably led and guided by Kate Frost, has helped to lift the blanket of doom that had fallen over me because of the loss of everything that I needed to make my life worthwhile. I am so thankful to be part of this group, and to help support the vital research into Covid-19 and Long Covid in Nottingham.
For more information about the Long Covid research taking place in Nottingham, or if you wish to support our fundraising appeal, please click here.