ABDUL SHOHID’S BACKGROUND
His father came to the UK in the 1960s as part of the chain migration from Sylhet, Bangladesh. His mother joined his father in the 70s. She could not speak a word of English at the time.
Shohid was born and brought up in Tower Hamlets. He was born in Mile End Hospital. He went to Hackney Community College and grew up with four siblings. He lived all his life in the borough. He was the only person in his family and relatives to go to university.
‘I am not sure what I expected when I was going to university. I felt this was something I needed to do. I was academically gifted…This would also help me to get a good job. I studied anthropology. In terms of understanding society, community and individuals, these are some of the things going to university has taught me.’
Currently he works with young offenders who are seen as high risk in the local community. Many of these individuals have language, misuse of drugs problems and have been brought up in deprived areas. They are unsure about their identity either in the context of their family or community. From his point of view:
‘these multi-layered issues led these individuals to fall into crime and then the criminal justice system.’
His job involves preventing young individuals from re-offending by supporting them in many different ways such as: identifying their problems and helping them to rebuild their lives. Shohid would help them by identifying an action plan which they would agree, work with his colleagues, the courts and the social services. He might guide them to get into further education, work or have a difficult conversation with their family members.
Initially the first few weeks during the lockdown were very stressful because he missed being with his colleagues. He enjoyed the office banter and gossip. Instead of seeing them, these days he would speak to them on Zoom or Microsoft Team. But he goes on to say:
‘You lose track of what day it is. Is it Monday or Friday? You don’t really know. In terms of my work it has been demotivating because you want to support the person but none of the support structures are around. You can’t see the young person; you can’t liaise with their parents. You can’t get your teeth into it; so it’s not very fulfilling with the work I am doing and the way I am doing at the moment.’
It has been very difficult not see his family members too. To make up for not seeing them, he has been calling them more often. He has been trying to keep a daily routine, exercise daily, goes for a walk and get some sunlight which keeps him sane and healthy.
Him and his wife are now working from home. By giving each other some space by working in separate rooms, they were able to make the most of their home environment and time during work hours. They would then take a break together to catch up and motivate each other.
The lockdown has changed the way he thinks about his working environment in the office. He is feeling very anxious just thinking about going back to work.
COVID AND COMMUNITY
‘My nephew was diagnosed with coronavirus. He lives with my mum... He has paralysis. Everyone in my mum’s house had coronavirus symptoms…I am 99% sure my nephew had it and my family members had it. I’ve heard from my extended family members and friends who have been affected. A physio of mine passed away. That is really sad. I’ve got a distant relative in hospital in the ICU.’
He hopes that this virus will make people care about the climate and people’s health more. He feels that:
‘Air is cleaner. You can smell fresh air. People can look up and see the sky. But we are living in a capitalist world. After all that we are going to business as usual. We might be getting the biggest economic shock since the Spanish Flu in 1918. Again the people who are going to suffer the most are the poor and the least well off and ethnic minority.’
Every Ramadan, he would break fast with friends and families. This Ramadan has been very unusual for him and his wife. They can’t socialise with others. It is just him and his partner.
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