We have all been impacted by the changes that COVID-19 has brought to our lives in many ways, from missing our friends and family, working from home and missing out on our weekly activities and social gatherings that we were so used to.

For Merriwa’s Packaging team members, Kyle Naylor, Margaret Leidtke and Alison Holmes, they have had to adjust to these changes and have done an incredible job doing so, finding new ways to keep busy and stay in touch with their friends and family – but they are all looking forward to more flexibility and easing of restrictions soon.

Kyle Naylor has been a part of the Packaging team for four years and travels from Wahgunyah to Wangaratta for his work at Merriwa, but this has proved to be challenging over the last 6 months as buses have stopped running due to restrictions. This hasn’t stopped Kyle though, in fact he has started working an extra day at Merriwa, “I would normally work two days per week and travel on the bus, but now I am working three days and catching a lift to work each day. I get to see my friends at work which has been really good, especially because we haven’t been able to catch up during COVID-19.

“I have been missing out on my normal weekly community programs where we would go bowling, have cooking classes and have dinners, but we worked around that and have caught up via Zoom meetings which has been great to still see everyone. It has definitely been frustrating, but I’m looking forward to things going back to normal, like being able to visit my nan and also go to the gym.”

Margaret Leidtke also works at Packaging and has been keeping herself busy, trying to keep her normal weekly activities on track, “I work four days at Merriwa and catch the Merriwa bus from Benalla. I have missed catching up with my friends, but get to see a lot of them at work. I normally have visits from my sister in Melbourne but haven’t been able to see her due to COVID-19 restrictions. I still keep busy though and enjoy gardening, pulling out weeds and looking after my roses, plus I do my shopping on a Friday and have already done my Christmas shopping!”

For Alison Holmes, she has also adjusted extremely well to some of the changes we have seen this year, especially after missing out on her regular community activities, “At the start I really didn’t like wearing the face masks, but I’m used to it now and everyone has to do it so it’s ok. I’ve been really enjoying coming to work and have started working four days per week, and some Saturdays, which makes me happy that we are really busy.”

Just like Kyle and Margie, Alison has adapted extremely well and is finding new ways to keep busy, “I would normally go to the gym on a Friday, but they have closed so I’m hoping they open soon as I really miss that, but have been walking on a Friday instead. I have also been involved in programs such as bowling, dinners with friends, volunteering and pottery classes, but haven’t been able to do those at the moment. Instead I have kept busy with work, walking and love doing my artwork which is a ‘dab and dot’ style.”

The key message from Kyle, Margie and Alison has been to just keep going, keep working and do things in different ways to keep busy. Merriwa is extremely proud of our team members; their continued positivity, adaptability and support for their team is extremely admirable and we look forward to hopefully an opportunity for more time with family, friends and community in 2021.