Working on the helpline during COVID-19


Our Helpline and Information Officer, Uschi Stickroth, looks at the trials and tribulations, and sometimes funny side, of providing a helpline and information service working from home.

We have all had to adapt quite quickly to this new normal. For us here at Epilepsy Scotland it means predominantly working from home.

I have to say, I find it comforting and reassuring to know I am safe in my wee bubble at home, a privilege not afforded to everyone.

No commutes to work, no need for masks and sanitisers. Leaving the house has currently turned into an almost military exercise checking you have everything in your bag to safely face the outside world.


My new office

Now my office is the kitchen. I had to learn to be a lot tidier, let’s face it, who wants to look at dirty dishes in the background while on a zoom call.

I now think twice about cooking that fish unless I want to have a fishy smell pervade all my senses while taking a helpline call or writing an information leaflet for the next 24 hours.

Where in the past I would welcome the postie delivering a parcel, I now dread it. You see, I have a dog, who thinks the postie is the mortal enemy and must be barked at.

And there’s the window cleaner. Normally a time for a chat putting the world to rights.


But now I have to time my zoom meetings around the window cleaner’s schedule as the dog’s frenzied barking at the perceived intruder makes it impossible to hear yourself think let alone talk to someone.

I’ve learned to warn helpline callers and colleagues that we may be interrupted by a barking dog. I am not alone with these challenges.

If it’s not a barking dog, it’s a toddler wanting in on that zoom call, a cat insisting on sitting on your keyboard, or a delivery driver turning up at the most crucial moment of an intense meeting.

And then there’s the technology, crackling telephone lines, lines that sound like the caller is under water, servers crashing, slow broadband, but we still manage to communicate.


Our helpline is still here for you

It may not be perfect, but it works. Bear with us, it might take us a bit longer to send out that publication you want.

It may take you several attempts to get through to us on the phone, as we only have one line to our freephone helpline number 0808 800 2200 while we work from home. But if you leave us a message, we will get back to you.

Lockdown and this pandemic have highlighted to me what really matters, ie people.

As someone who struggles too at times and who often feels lost in this fast changing environment, I am humbled to be able to be there for others in these ongoing challenging times.