Throughout Christmas week, Gef has been talking to people about their experiences of being separated from their families. This woman who contacted us said that difficulties with shared parenting has left her and her daughter in a cycle of isolation. She has shared with Gef the letter she sent to gov ministers.

‘My daughter is 10 years old and her father lives in the UK. I moved to the island for work several years ago on the understanding that I would present her for contact with her father once a month as a minimum. This has worked well up until the Covid 19 situation. I have since remarried and have an 18 month old son on island. So I am in a complicated situation at the best of times.

‘When the borders closed in March, understandably the whole island was in lockdown with no travel on the island, let alone across the water to the UK or Ireland. We were patient and felt that when things eased, we would be in the group of exempt people allowed to travel. However, it became apparent this was not the case, at which I felt aggrieved particularly as a good friend of mine had been granted an exemption to see her elderly mother. I would value a young child’s relationship with her father as much if not more than my friend’s relationship with her elderly mother.  The discussions with the Returning Residents Team were pretty confusing, given that they themselves didn’t understand why the rules said exemptions were available for the purposes of child contact, but this didn’t extend to being able to leave the island and return, only to return if you were already in the UK.

Then it became the case, and I was very grateful for it too, that we were granted an exemption to return to the island when the exemptions remit was broadened. Then very soon it was that everyone could travel, as long as they isolated on their return. We made a trip in the summer holidays so, after a four month gap, my daughter could see her father (and her little brother) in the UK. We dutifully completed the isolation happy with the news that my husband would not be made to isolate too. He does not get paid if he is in isolation and given that I was not working due to the isolation we would not have been able to afford to live without two wages for two weeks.’

‘We completed another trip just recently, in half term, thankfully just before the change in isolation rules. I have to admit this news was a devastating blow, the last lifeline taken away from us as a family. We simply cannot afford to both take the time off work.’