In the days before Christmas Gef is talking to people about their experiences of being separated from their families. Today a woman who moved to the UK tells us how her family has been unable to support her sister through a difficult year with a newborn baby. She spoke to us before the new border restrictions were announced.
‘Normally Christmas is two weeks long. My sister comes down and we both see our parents in different weeks. So it’s a big catch up for everyone. Her coming from the Isle of Man with her toddler was a big deal. It’s been a horrible year for our family, we are really really close, talking four times a day for long periods of time. Not being able to physically be there when my sister or nephew need us is hard.
‘They don’t have any family over there so when she rightfully deserves a babysitter she can’t have one. When she wants to have a bath alone, she can’t have one. She would never ask us but being able to go over and just be with our nephew would be amazing. It’s been a year now and we’ve completely missed really big moments of each other’s lives.
‘If she has a bad day at work I can’t do anything other than look at her. If he has a bad day at nursery we can’t even look as he is a kid who doesn’t sit still. We can’t be there to comfort her when everything gets too much.
‘I am so proud of how she has gotten through this, being a mum is difficult enough, but she has dealt with some sh*t. And she has done it alone. She obviously has friends but like I mentioned we are a close family, sometimes you need your mum and your sister.
‘Personally and selfishly I have had a horrible time, often suicidal and she hasn’t been here as she usually would. She’s just had to sit on the other end of a screen and watch and be worried unable to do anything.
‘Emotionally it’s hard, too hard for us to talk about it. We can’t mention it without it physically hurting. I’ve had to up my therapy as it’s difficult to be separated from her. Living on the Isle of Man is something she has always been passionate about but this has highlighted how easy it is to be stuck there.
‘It is really clear the Manx government only cares about money. If we could afford to spend isolation in a hotel, cottage or house over there we would. But we can’t afford it. We’ve even looked at loans to get over. Knowing money could solve it is additionally difficult because it shouldn’t be the case. One place asked for three grand, and we cannot even walk our dog, so we’d need somewhere to let the dog out. It feels like mental and physical health doesn’t matter if you aren’t rich.
‘I don’t think that the Manx government understands not everyone has to be at death’s door to need help. We aren’t saying we refuse to live by the rules we would give anything to come over. We just want to be over there. With our family. Safe.’