Wairarapa Police Response Manager Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen with her three children before the lockdown. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Frontline staff making sacrifices

ALEYNA MARTINEZ
aleyna.martinez@age.co.nz

Wairarapa Police Response Manager Senior Sergeant Jennifer Hansen told the Times-Age, “Parenting is the hardest job in the world” and when you add that pressure to working in an essential service you get a boiling pot of stress for how to plan the next 22 days safely.

This was made clear when Hansen shared a poem her daughter wrote and recorded about how the covid-19 Level Four restrictions had affected their family dynamic.

“With nana and granddad, we’ve come to stay, poor mum has to go to work each day…We can wave at her from afar when she drives up in her car,” rhymed Pippa, 10.

Hansen said bringing the virus home was a huge threat for those with children and family members who already had health worries such as diabetes and severe asthma.

Those with very young children must also manage a lack of understanding about what is going on outside.

Hansen said her 10- and seven-year-old “have some understanding of what’s going on and you can explain it to them in a way that they can understand.

“But, my four-year-old is blissfully oblivious to the world still,” Hansen said.

“He knows enough to know that things aren’t the same and he doesn’t understand why he can’t come and have a cuddle with mummy and can’t be at home with mummy.

“All of my staff are having to make sacrifices and decisions about how this impacts their family and what the best thing to do is.

“Police staff are at risk generally in the job that they do, but this just added a whole other element that they have to now consider.”

In a video Hansen posted on the Wellington District Police Facebook page, she is seen holding back emotion in response to the poem.

“I’m fortunate that I’m able to work and I have the support of my family to look after my children and keep them safe while I work”, Hansen said.

“Being at home with children, no matter how many you’ve got, is a stretch for anybody because – God bless them, and we love them – but they test your patience.

“I really feel for those parents that are really struggling at the moment with their children potentially not understanding why they cannot go out anywhere, but just remind yourselves that you are doing this to keep those children and your loved ones safe. If nothing else do it for them, for that reason.

“I miss my kids terribly and I want them to be at home, but I have to be grateful and know that this is the best thing for them – to be with my mum and be safe.

“It hasn’t even been a week yet, but the intention is for the entire period of the lockdown, for them to remain there.”

With a new online submission form being introduced for the public to inform police when they think others may be breaching lockdown restrictions, Hansen said for families in Wairarapa “patience has got to come into this – this is a marathon not a sprint”.

Police were aware there were situations where it was increasingly difficult for people to remain in the home they were in at the time the lockdown started, “but people have to remember if every person is breaching their bubbles thinking she’ll be right – we just can’t have that ‘she’ll be right’ Kiwi attitude, Hansen said.

“We have to take it that seriously.

“We appreciate there will be times where that is really difficult, and some circumstances will say it’s just not possible for various reasons. We will do our best to manage those and help families where we can.

“Ultimately we have to rely on the public to be doing what everyone has been directed to do – remain within your bubble, follow the two-metre social distancing rules, and just one person from your family going to the supermarket – all of those sorts of things are just so essential.”