Ahead of Father’s Day this Sunday we are celebrating some of the fathers who have been working on the frontline in our food stores and funeral homes during these uncertain times.
Over the past three months our colleagues have been providing vital food and essentials and supporting families during such difficult circumstances.
Many at the same time have had to balance their key work for their communities with the challenges of disruption to home life with the closure of schools and nurseries, dealing with life in lockdown with small children and often unable to call on family for support.
To mark Father’s Day, we are shining a light on some of our ‘frontline fathers’ and finding out how they and their families have managed during these challenging times.
Among them is Arron Billett, Store Manager at the retailer’s Stone Road Food Store in Stafford, who along with his fellow key worker wife Kelly, has had to balance his vital work serving the community with taking care of seven-year-old son Elliot.
The family have also had to cope with the loss of a beloved family member and being unable to say goodbye because of the crisis.
Arron, 32, said: “During lockdown me and my partner have had to split the parenting of Elliott, by ensuring we are working opposite shifts to accommodate for childcare whilst he is off school as she is also a key worker.
“The most challenging part is hardly seeing my partner whilst working opposite shifts from each other and having to play pass the parcel with Elliott between each of us finishing and starting work.
“The only other thing which has been difficult for all of us was my Grandad passing away as the Coronavirus pandemic was beginning. This meant we were unable to attend the funeral which hit Elliott really hard as he as so close to my Grandad
“Elliott is really proud of me and my partner for being key workers and got really in to the clap for the key workers on a Thursday evening by banging his pots!”
Aiden Phillips, Central England Co-op Senior Funeral Director in Corby, Northamptonshire, has been working tirelessly to support families through these unprecedented times while balancing two young children at home – Ethan, five, and Arthur, two.
The 35-year-old said: “It has been difficult at times, but my line manager has been really supportive which has helped a lot. Family time has always been very important to me, but the current situation definitely makes you value family time even more.
“I think the boys are proud of me being a keyworker, although I’m not sure they fully understand what’s involved with my job. Both the boys seem very happy to see me when I get home which is lovely!”
Store Manager at our store in Sutton Coldfield, Lee Mullis, has two daughters – Khloe aged six and Olivia aged three – while his wife Susan also works full-time for the retailer in Atherstone.
He has also had to cope with his NHS worker mum contracting and, thankfully, recovering from the virus.
He said: “It makes you value your family even more and drive home how precious time with the kids is, as well as how quickly they grow up. It is important to have a great work life balance which I am fortunate to be able to say I have, even at this time.”