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Fearful time for social workers in UK with family in India

A social worker speaks of her concerns as the coronavirus crisis in India deepens

Blossom Francis

Published by Professional Social Work magazine, 7 May, 2021

A social worker with family in India has spoke of her fear and heartache as she watches coronavirus rip through the continent.

The deepening crisis is blamed on the federal government for claiming in March that it had beaten the virus. The boast came after numbers fell from a peak of 90,000 a day last September to under 20,000 in January 2021.

The government is said to have ignored repeated warnings from experts that a new variant posed a significant threat.

With daily infections now topping 300,000 and deaths hitting 4,000 a desperate scramble is underway to divert vaccines and crucial medical supplies.

Blossom Francis, a social worker based in North London with family in India, said: “I am hearing about deaths in extended family. Every other day there is somebody in hospital, somebody no longer here with us.

“I haven’t seen my parents for a few years now and last year I really wanted to go visit them. I booked my tickets but we had to cancel. You don’t want to think the worst but it comes to your mind that before it is too late I want to go and see them.”

Blossom, who has worked as a social worker in both the UK and India, said social inequality was playing a big part in how the pandemic is experienced on the sub-continent with millions of people unable to access good healthcare.

“There is a real social divide in India – it has always been there but it is more visible now. Every facility you can think of is in India, it is just whether you have the capacity to get that resource. There are government hospitals where you don’t have to pay but they are not going to have the best facilities.”

Keeping up with the latest information is also hard, and Blossom, who works as a parenting assessor, added: “You hear things on social media and you don’t know whether it is true or not. It is impacting on my own mental health, especially in our line of work when you are working with people and families. You automatically compare the kind of facilities and resources we have here.”

And she expressed frustration at India’s failure to manage the outbreak: “The government in India have used things to their benefit. When there was the election you would see thousands and thousands of people gathered in a small place for the rallies and that was allowed.

“All the religious festivals were allowed to be celebrated. They thought nothing would happen if they were allowed to continue.

“I think about the last lockdown when the situation was worse in the UK and India had managed it well. There were strict curfew rules and nothing was open. So it is not that it can’t be done. This pandemic is not going to discriminate, it affects everyone.”