Being a teenage key worker by Annabel Thomas, Parmiter’s School

A pandemic isn’t easy for anyone, that goes without saying. Work has changed for everyone, with people losing jobs, struggling to work from home or continuing work in a much changed environment. Everyone knows that the most affected and bravest key workers are our NHS and medical staff on the front line, and the entire country continues to show their gratitude for these people in many ways. But for teenagers, many of us, myself included, are affected by this in the jobs we are able to do: shop workers.

Teenagers aren’t able to be medical professionals, police, firemen or any similar key worker at this time. However, working in a supermarket is a common job for teenagers, resulting in many young people being suddenly seen as doing work essential for the running of the country, and perhaps feeling out of depth. Whilst shop work isn’t thought of as the most dangerous job one could be doing right now, it is one that brings a high risk, with hundreds of people passing through shops everyday, and workers having to interact with people to do their job. Protective measures were brought in in fits and starts, and distributed unequally. Measures such as limiting people in the shop, placing markers on the floor to show how to adhere to distancing guidelines, one-way systems and more that are being seen across supermarkets nowadays do help make it easier to stay safe, but there are still high numbers of people in shops at one time, especially large supermarkets, and not everyone sticks to the rules as they should, making an unsafe environment, despite the shop itself is doing everything to try and keep workers and customers as safe as can be. 

It is hard balancing a full schedule of school work and the pressures of working. Online classes or work set online is stressful and occupies most of our time, with the equivalent classwork and homework being set as if we were at school, along with the added belief that now we have more ‘free time’ we can do more work and have no excuses. It’s important to remember everyone has their limits, and not to overwork yourself right now – doing what you can is good enough. 

Even though it may be scary to be out working right now, one thing I’ve noticed is the sense of camaraderie between the workers. Everyone knows we’re all in this together, and we have to keep happy and motivated – and a great way to do that is through chatting and checking up on each other. I have some great friends in my workplace, and I love getting to see them every week (from a distance while doing our jobs). Most customers are also very understanding, and know that they may not be able to get what they want, but all the workers are doing their best. 

We’re all in this together, and we will get through it. Thank you to everyone, from medical workers to grocery workers, for the hard work they are doing to keep the country going right now. 

Annabel Thomas

This Is Local London | North-West