In the next student blog of our series on “The Impact of COVID-19 on Kent and Medway”, Thomas James, a third year student at CCCU and English Language teacher reflects on his experience of being furloughed.

It goes without saying, that the impact on all our lives as a result of this global pandemic has been, is and likely will be for some time; immense. From my own personal perspective, I was furloughed in March alongside around fifty other teachers at a language school in Thanet. We welcomed students from across the globe – but mainly Germany, Spain, Italy and France – for a week-long course of lessons and various activities. That has obviously all come to a stop. The impact is not only on myself and my colleagues, but the town and wider area too.

Indeed, it has been communicated to myself and my colleagues by the Language School management that it is uncertain whether the school will reopen any time before 2021. If this is the case, it puts me in a difficult position. Having received my final student finance instalment in April and the first furlough payment at the end of that same month, currently, from a financial perspective, I am still afloat. However, the longer this goes on, the tighter the financial situation will become and I will have to consider an interim job or universal credit.

I asked my colleagues to share their experiences of furlough. Some raised the issue of home schooling their kids, others, financial worries and uncertain return to work. But we all miss our jobs, not simply the financial element but even telling the students that unless they write a sentence in the third conditional, there will be no free time in London.

And this leads to my final point. There are serious implications to furlough: for me these are mostly being cooped up on my own and are simply frustrating as much as anything else. While I live only a short walk from the beach, not having a garden means I was for a long while limited to the one precious venture outdoors per day – either to the shops or for a stroll along the clifftop for example. Then there is the fact that I live alone. I have not yet gone down the Tom Hanks route in Castaway and drawn a face on a football though – yet. I am well aware however, of the implications that loneliness and other factors will be having on some people at this time and as such really do consider myself very lucky overall.

Indeed, we are all in the same boat and I’m sure that – hopefully sooner rather than later – we will emerge on the other side and our jobs will be waiting for us, the activities we enjoy will still be there, and we will be able to once again threaten European teenagers with lockdown if their grammar does not improve.

Thomas James: Language School English Teacher and Third Year Student