Tapiwa’s Story

Tapiwa is an Accident and Emergency Sister at a local hospital. Tapiwa had been going through a rough patch because of lockdown and Covid-19. Her job, which is often very busy, has meant she carried on working during the pandemic, dealing with serious stuff. Tapiwa is currently off work due to sickness. She has been feeling stressed and is waiting for an operation.

We started supporting Tapiwa as part of the Listen and Connect service, which offers practical solutions and a safe space for people to talk about anything they want.

When the phone calls started, Tapiwa didn’t feel like speaking to anyone, but says Abdul, who called her, always found a way to make her laugh. If she didn’t feel up to talking because she was tired from a shift at the hospital, Abdul would call back later or the next day. Tapiwa said it was nice and easy to speak to Abdul. Sometimes they talked about painful and stressful things, but often they chatted nonsense together which was fun.

“It was nice to talk to somebody, especially somebody you don’t know, who won’t judge you.”

Abdul is also a cycling instructor and he has been setting up one-to-one cycling sessions with some of the people he is supporting. Tapiwa and Abdul spoke over the phone for a few weeks before moving their sessions onto bikes, along with volunteer Adam, who helps out.

Tapiwa, Abdul and Adam have been having lots of fun exploring Senneleys Park and the local area. Tapiwa has found it nice to be out in local greenspace, exploring woodlands and farms that she didn’t know existed within the city. The sessions have built her confidence and shown her what is possible.

“And we go off road as well, we go through streams, we do all sorts. So now I know like all those things are possible, whereas when I was a kid maybe I just used to ride on pavements a lot, where it’s safe.”

We’ve been working with bikes company Raleigh, along with health partners, to give away free bikes to people in Birmingham whose physical and mental health could benefit. At one of Tapiwa’s recent sessions, we told her the bike would be hers to keep.

Tapiwa was really excited when she found out the news, as she thinks it’ll be a great way for her to de-stress and exercise. Tapiwa has a lot going on in her life at the moment but explained that the bike doesn’t need anything from her – as long as she’s eaten and got water.

“I’m so excited to go places with it, and I don’t even know where to go, but I’m just going to go places!”

Tapiwa can’t wait to explore the local area more. She already has plans to cycle with friends and colleagues and to the shops. Tapiwa, Abdul and Adam continue with their weekly cycling sessions.

Catherine Ball
Author: Catherine Ball