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Families are grappling with pandemic fatigue

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Sandy DeSilva reflects on one year of being Executive Director of The Family Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

When the pandemic struck Bermuda last year, families were fearful about immediate concerns about the virus itself, finances and social isolation.

Today, according to Family Centre executive director Sandy DeSilva, those concerns have shifted to longer term worries like Covid-19 fatigue and whether to get vaccinated or not.

Dr DeSilva, who is the Centre’s second ever executive director in 30 years, said: “This year there’s the externalisation of the struggle with the ongoing restrictions, whether you should be vaccinated or not vaccinated and how much longer this will go on.

“People are thinking ‘I miss people, I want to be able to travel and see my family, I want to stop seeing people through a computer screen.”

She added: “This year there’s different thinking around the topic of vaccinations, for example, whereas last year we all pulled ourselves together to try and keep each other safe in a way where there was not a lot of controversy.”

Sandy DeSilva reflects on one year of being Executive Director of The Family Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Dr DeSilva told The Royal Gazette many parents were also concerned about how remote learning had impacted their children and if it was safe for older children to study abroad for university.

Some students were even afraid to go back to school because they were worried about bringing the coronavirus to their homes.

Dr DeSilva said while these fears were normal, people should seek help if they started to get in the way of their daily lives.

She added: “If you need help you can do a quick internet search for helping agencies in Bermuda.

“Even on the Bermuda Government website there is a portal for a helping services directory and you can type in the search engine what type of help you need and for whom.”

Dr DeSilva is marking her first anniversary as executive director of The Family Centre. She succeeded founder Martha Dismont, who retired last July. The Centre provides counselling services to children and families.

Dr DeSilva, who had been involved with The Family Centre for 25 years, said that she took much of her knowledge on how to lead the group through the pandemic from Ms Dismont’s example.

She added that, while it helped to see Ms Dismont deal with the pandemic during her last few months, her preparation for the role had been years in the making.

Dr DeSilva said: “Martha’s our founder and has been our executive director for 30 years, so even in the 30-year journey of Family Centre growing out of Martha Dismont’s home, it was part of my journey as well in terms of growing into a clinical psychologist and moving into the various roles that I held here.”

She added: “One of the things many people said to me when hearing about the transition from Martha to myself was ‘wow, you’ve got big shoes to fill’.

“I would immediately say ‘I’m not going to fill Martha’s shoes – they’re still there for Martha to fill – I’m going to bring my own shoes to the table’.”

Sandy DeSilva reflects on one year of being Executive Director of The Family Centre (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Dr DeSilva said that when the pandemic struck, the Family Centre had to contact their donors and families immediately to let them know they would still be in operation, albeit remotely.

She explained that having the trust of the organisation’s stakeholders helped keep them afloat when many businesses were apprehensive about donating funds.

Dr DeSilva added: “Relationships with others that are meaningful and important will keep you grounded and keep you feeling supported.

“They push you to think in ways that you haven’t thought of before and they push in other directions because you’re always hearing another perspective.”

She said the pandemic reminded her of the necessity for non-profit organisations communicating and maintaining professional relationships with donors and families.

Dr DeSilva added that the pandem also made the Centre find new ways of proviidng services, some of which were now a part of the Centre’s activities.

She explained that Beyond Yoga, a youth empowerment programme which was introduced in the absence of the Beyond Rugby programme, would continue to operate even after Beyond Rugby resumed.

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Published August 03, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated August 03, 2021 at 7:48 am)

Families are grappling with pandemic fatigue

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