Video interview: view from the Teal front line – keeping the portable handwash units coming!

Guy Whieldon interview as part of Deaf Awareness Week 2020

How Guy’s adaptability overcomes his deafness

Guy Whieldon under normal circumstances (remember those?) is UK Sales Manager at Teal which manufactures portable hand wash units for sale around the world. His role has dramatically changed for a while as he responds to the changing demands of the current situation, which enables him to make a valuable contribution as a key worker. 

In an interview with Jay from CommPlus, who are Specialists in British Sign Language Provision and Training, Guy Whieldon explained how Teal is keeping the production of portable hand wash units going from their Birmingham facility, the difficulties and obstacles the team are needing to overcome on a daily basis – and how being part of the deaf community doesn’t prevent him from being a key worker.

“I’m usually the sales manager; I’d usually be doing sales meetings, but obviously this can’t happen at the moment so I’m now a driver.”

The interview was carried out as part of Deaf Awareness Week 2020.

Today Guy joins us to share his experience. Guy is a keyworker delivering mobile handwashing units to NHS Trusts and other companies.

Jay: ​Hi, Can you introduce your name for everyone watching on Facebook?

Guy: ​My name is guy and this is my sign name….”GUY”

Jay:​ Thanks for agreeing to chat to me today for Deaf awareness week. Today is Tuesday. So, I’m just wondering how you’ve been coping for the last seven weeks of lockdown.

Guy: ​It, seems ok really. I’m one of the key workers because my company supplies hand washing units for the NHS and other companies so we’ve been overwhelmed with work and we’ve had to fulfil those orders. It’s actually been really busy.

Jay:​ You’re a key worker? So, you’re out and about? Although the world has changed, would you say it feels like your life is normal?

Guy:​ There’s definitely some difference because my role has had to change. I’m usually the sales manager; I’d usually be doing sales meetings, but obviously this can’t happen at the moment so I’m now a driver. We have other staff who need to stay in the factory to create the products and manage the orders. I’m an insured driver, so I’ve taken over some of the delivery driving. It keeps the deliveries going for NHS trusts and other people.

Jay:​ I’m sure the Deaf community appreciate your work as a key worker. Applause for that, definitely.

Guy:​ Yeah, I’ve been going into hospitals…

Jay:​ You go into hospitals? Do you have to wear special PPE like a mask?

Guy:​ Not really, I haven’t had to. For example, I went into Walsall Manor Hospital and not everyone has to wear PPE in the general area. If there are COVID patients, the staff are wearing PPE to protect themselves but, around the hospital, it just looks like business as usual.

Jay:​ Strange when you compare what you see on TV…

Guy:​ It is scary at the same time. You wonder ‘who around me has Coronavirus? Although it looks normal, it definitely more quiet than normal.

Jay:​ Yeah it’s an invisible thing; you can’t see it but you know it’s there…You said earlier, you were overwhelmed; what do you mean by that?

Guy:​ I’d say at work our order time is usually 6-8 weeks depending on the unit. But, at the moment that’s reduced to 4-5 weeks and we have more orders coming in all the time.

Jay:​ Are you enjoying it?

Guy:​ We’re just overwhelmed

Jay:​ You’ll need a break soon

Jay:​ So obviously we don’t know when lockdown will be eased or how long certain restrictions will last. But when we get there what you looking forward to doing?

Guy:​ Hopefully holidays. I used to do a lot of travelling with work and personal travel but so much has been cancelled. It feels like that part of life has been locked down.

Jay:​ Yeah it feels like we’re on a long pause. The Deaf community have been discussing a lot about the impact of coronavirus on mental health. How’s your mental health

Guy:​ I feel like it hasn’t really been impacted. I think I have quite strong mental health so nothing has really impacted me. I have a strong mind, I’m staying positive. I’m having to adapt to the situation around me and be flexible and get on with how things are.

Jay:​ I think that’s good advice: keep a strong mind, think positive, be flexible, adapt to the situation and accept it. I think if you resist you will struggle. That’s good advice. Once more question. What have you learned through lockdown?

Guy:​ I think, because I’m driving a lot I can see the positive effects on the environment. You can see nature recovering which is really positive and makes you appreciate nature more. Also, the roads are quiet so that’s been nice for work.

Jay:​ So, you’re getting everywhere more quickly? Makes everything more efficient and you’re achieving more in the day?

Guy:​ Definitely!

Jay:​ Well, thank you for joining me. I’m sure everyone appreciates getting an insight into your experience.

Guy:​ No problem, you’re welcome.

Video and transcript courtesy of CommPlus.

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