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I was referred to Red Rose via the NHS Long Covid Team as they felt that I would benefit from their input.

My initial visit was from Vicky and Scott, and I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy working alongside Red Rose.

Vicky would come and visit, and see what I needed. I have never been on benefits before, so I had no idea of how it worked. Vicky helped to source information that I needed to figure out what I would be able to claim, and she set me off on the right path.

Vicky was promoted, and she was replaced as my caseworker by the wonderful Orla. Orla, like Vicky assisted me with the claims I needed, and wrote a very valuable piece for me for my higher PIP claim, which played a big part in me being successful. When she knew I was struggling, she would encourage me to go out with her, she knew the right thing to do at the right time, without me having to say anything. Orla also advised my daughter who is at university, to apply for a hardship grant, something we didn’t know existed, and last month my daughter was granted a sum of money that will help her out tremendously.

Orla and Emily then created the weekly LC Support Group which has been a lifeline for all of us. From the very first meeting, when I found out that out of the 8 of us, 6 have had to give up work, I immediately felt less alone in the turmoil I am living.

They have run the group so well that we all feel comfortable with being open and honest with each other, and we have even been out together as a group for lunch…this is an achievement in itself as some members of the group are uncomfortable with being out anywhere in public. They also facilitate those who are not able to come to the group by including them via zoom.

Without Red Rose, where would I be? Quite possibly still trying to figure out how on earth I was going to manage financially now I could no longer work, and would be as stressed as I was. I would still be feeling judged by a society that has absolutely no idea how badly Long Covid destroys your life…. I would still be feeling terribly isolated, and that it is just me, I am being soft, I am being wet. Basically, I would still be facing a long very bumpy road on my own, with no direction and no idea where, or how to go.

Why Red Rose? Because I have never ONCE felt judged by any of the team. Scott, Vicky, Orla and Emily have always listened, they care, you don’t feel like you are wasting their time, and nothing has ever been too much trouble for them. They go out of their way to help, and if they don’t know something, they will find out and get back to you. The group goes from strength to strength and it is down to the effort that is put in, and the fact that they genuinely do care. Every one of us has had different needs, yet they work hard to help us with whatever is within their power to do.

Sadly, Orla left, but not because she didn’t love her job, but because she is off galivanting around the world, we forgave her….just! She was heartbroken telling all of her people (sorry, brain fog, the correct word won’t come to me). It wasn’t just a case of ‘Bye…I am going’…she was so upset about saying goodbye. Emily has done a fantastic job carrying on with the group without her, and I feel that Orla’s replacements are going to do a great job of picking up the baton and carrying on the fantastic work that the others have started.

The Red Rose Team LISTEN to what we say and HEAR what we need, even when we don’t hear ourselves.

The team is SO valuable to people who are in our situation, and there are many more who need their help out there…. People who are struggling on alone.

You know I mentioned the long bumpy road with no direction? This fantastic team help smooth out this road with their support and input, and with their own brand of gentle kindness, they are able to point us in the direction of the light at the end of a very long road, and they link us to others with whom we can share the journey.

All of the above is why the Red Rose Long Covid Support Team is so SO valuable to all of us with Long Covid. I know I can speak for those of us who have been fortunate enough to have had the input of the team, when I say that we are so very grateful for all that they have done, and continue to do on our behalf.

May many others be able to get the help of this fabulous, invaluable team.