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We’ve all been under a lot of pressure and stress since lockdown began in March – and that’s the same for The People’s Orchestra too. As you may be aware, the orchestra has been running lots of virtual events to keep everyone connected and take our minds off everything else – such as our wonderful summer concert, ‘The War of The Titans’! We wanted to bring you up to speed on everything that TPO Bridge has been up to behind the scenes these past few months.

TPO Bridge helps people within the local community to gain the skills to be able to get employment, or indeed help with CV improvement and other techniques to help former professionals get back into work after time away. With lockdown, face-to-face contact became virtual, with 1-to-1s taking place over Zoom, the phone or in emails. At last, we’re now able to do some face-to-face with strict social distancing, although our increased working hours to a seven-day service have remained in place to help those who may be struggling.

The focus of our work has shifted in the past few months too; with much of the workforce on the furlough scheme, and many businesses unable to hire staff, it became impractical to keep focussing on the employment side of things. We directed people to the NHS, local fruit picking and some public sector roles, but for those who weren’t in a position to take the work, we directed them to online training. There were additional non-work resources in place to help them relax and focus their minds.

Mariann continued to talk on the phone to people every day of the week – it was sometimes hard to distinguish one day from another at times! – helping to keep everyone’s spirits up. Of course, she herself wasn’t exempt from the worries which we all have had – we would like to thank her for her hard work throughout this time. One of the people that reached out to us was Lin, who says:

“My Mentor has been a constant source of help and encouragement during the COVID-19 crisis. From the initial lockdown there has been regular contact, not only updating me on the current difficulties the orchestra faces trying to resume some sort of ‘normal’, but taking time expressing genuine interest in my well-being. Mariann has been a wonderful support bubble. Now I realise that I am an important part of my community and I have lots to give. I get to feel safe, valued and I am always treated with respect and sensitivity.”

If we can take one positive from everything that has happened over these past few months, it’s perhaps that we’ve all gotten in deeper touch with our human sides. This is the essence of the work that we do here at The People’s Orchestra, and it’s wonderful to hear such wonderful feedback about our services. We’re still open every day, so if anyone needs to talk feel free to get in touch with us!

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