Most parents could hardly have imagined a year ago that they would be home-schooling their children. But for Kevin Hunt the drastic changes to his family life brought about by Covid-19 have opened up a wealth of opportunity.
“Teaching my children at home is fantastic,” said the Gravesend dad, who lost his job as a facilities manager during the first wave of the pandemic. “I feel very privileged that I am able to do it. One of the beauties of teaching them at home is that you can decide which direction you take, and you know your children better than anyone else.”
One of the more unusual subjects Kevin picked has been hospice care. As a result, his children and stepchildren produced a painted canvas as a thank you to ellenor staff and delivered it with a few other gifts to the hospice in Coldharbour Road.
He said: “There’s so much focus on NHS staff and stories about queuing ambulances, but there are other people also doing an absolutely amazing job. It’s not just the blue light response teams.”
It was on his daily walks with Duchess, the family pet St Bernard, that Kevin first started to notice the ellenor hospice, right next door to the new housing estate they moved to six months ago.
“I started to wonder how the staff are feeling during all of this, and how the patients feel when they can’t see their loved ones. There’s a lot of things in life people like me take for granted, like the freedom to walk the dog every day.
“After looking at the ellenor website I said to my partner Laura that you just don’t realise how many services are offered, and how expensive it is to run them all. Learning about everything ellenor does for children and their families has been particularly emotional for me.”
Kevin decided he would talk to his two young children, Merryn, three, and Bradley, five, and his two older stepchildren, Scarlette, 10, and Louie, 16, about the work ellenor does at the hospice and in the community.
He said: “Obviously with the younger children we have to keep explanations simple. Their great grandad passed away recently, and Bradley says that he is not here anymore, but he is looking down on him and looking after him. It gives me the platform to expand but it is a very slow route. He’s also aware that life isn’t the same at the moment and may never be the same.
“It is different with the older children. For instance, Louie, who is 16, relates best to learning through a games console or his PS4. Scarlette, who is 10, understands about what a hospice offers and knows that doctors and nurses can’t always make people better. I have taught them all that no one knows what is around the corner.”
Kevin, who is now studying child psychology and learning sign language, said: “I’m not sure where it’s going to lead me, but I have had a complete change of direction as far as my career goes.”
The family are also thinking of ways they can support us and have already volunteered to paint giant hearts for display outside the hospice building to celebrate Valentine’s Day and as part of the Love Your Local Hospice campaign.
We are ellenor, a charity funded by the generosity of our local community, offering the best care and support to families facing terminal illness in Kent. We are the only charity in the county that provides hospice care for people of all ages – babies, children and adults - and their families. This includes pain and symptom relief, end of life care, respite, bereavement support and emotional and spiritual care.
Our Children’s Hospice Care, formerly known as chYps, is provided in the comfort of the family home and spans across North and West Kent and the London Borough of Bexley. Adults living in Gravesham, Dartford and Swanley, receive care in their place of choice, including their own homes, at our Hospice in Gravesend and in local care homes.