Coronavirus: Northants mum's heartbreak over separating her children for 12-week isolation

With her son on the vulnerable list, Joanna Gilbert is self-isolating with him while being separated from her daughter

By Stephanie Weaver
Friday, 3rd April 2020, 6:00 am

A county mum has shared her story after having to make the tough decision over separating her children during lockdown.

Mum-of-two Joanna Gilbert contacted the Northants Telegraph because she wanted to share her views on the pandemic and how it has affected her family.

She is hoping her story will show support and understanding for others in a similar situation as well as those facing completely different challenges posed by Covid-19.

Joanna Gilbert and her children

Here's Joanna's story in her own words: "My name is Joanna, I am a 35-year-old mother of two.

"I am a qualified counsellor and family practitioner and for the last eight years I have worked for Youth Works Northamptonshire.

"We are a youth counselling agency supporting young people and their families within Kettering and Corby.

"I am not writing this solely as a therapist but as someone whose life has been incredibly impacted by the situation we all find ourselves in.

"I mentioned previously I am a mother-of-two.

"I have a daughter who is 13 and a son who is nine.

"My son has Cystic Fibrosis and is on the vulnerable list.

"We are now in lockdown isolation for 12 weeks.

"It was an extremely tough choice but to keep everyone well, my daughter has had to move out of her family home for this time and move in with her dad.

"Being isolated from her mum and brother (who is currently on IV treatment) has been really tough for her.

"Being 13 away from her home and unable to see her friends is somewhat of a challenge.

"With support from everyone (family) online and Facetiming each day has made things a little easier.

"She really is amazing.

"My son is missing his sister and his dad as well as his friends.

"Lockdown isolation is really hard when he can't even kick about his football in the local field.

"All three of us are very close to my family but with my mum and sister who are both nurses we haven’t been able to see each other for quite a while.

"The mental health implications of being so isolated from family who support each other each day is really hard.

"Youth Works Northamptonshire is continuing to offer support via video link and telephone support which I am going to aim to continue from home.

"From the perspective of an afraid mum who is missing her child and worried about her son in this current time, to a professional who is fully aware of the impacts of all of this on the families and young people within our community I can see things from all angles.

"To be able to reach out to each other and know that it's ok to have down days, it's ok to dance around the house in your PJs at three in the afternoon.

"To use mindfulness apps when you cant sleep and to not feel inadequate if your struggling to home school.

"I haven’t done any school work except read with my son at this point, it's a scary time and want him to reflect back on this moment in time and think that it's ok to not stick to a routine and that although we can't all be together we can still be a support.

"The amazing work of my mum, sister and colleagues during this time leaves me humbled.

"I am very lucky to have such strong figures in my life.

"To be able to share my story and to demonstrate that you don’t have to be happy and able everyday to get through this.

"We just have to be honest with each other when we are finding it hard and let people be there for us.

"I struggled to let anyone help me historically as I was always the one that helped others.

"I felt it was a weakness to show I was finding anything hard.

"It turns out I am much better at supporting others when I am open and can allow those to help me too.

"My own mental health has improved greatly because of this, it has made me a better mum, therapist, friend and family member.

"Mental health has been in the papers and on social media a lot recently and through my profession I have seen first hand how anxieties and fears can impact on someone’s day to day life, feelings of lack of control, inadequacy’s of a parent can cause fractious relationships within the household.

"Within a time we are all being instructed to stay in together, can cause negative thoughts and feelings within the strongest of people.

"I just wanted to show support and understanding within our community and to let anyone who is feeling the pressure, it is ok and please ask for support, you are all doing great."