A semi-professional footballer has turned down the opportunity to be furloughed on 80 per cent pay, instead volunteering at his local hospital and assisting the National Health Service (NHS) during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, writes Tom Howe.
Bristol Manor Farm centre-back Kai Fisher, 29, has joined the cleaning team at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton having originally been laid off by his employers, for whom he worked on a zero hour contract.
Fisher, who began playing men’s football for Cullompton Rangers ‘A’ a decade ago, enjoyed spells at the likes of Buckland Athletic and Willand Rovers before stepping up to join Southern League side Bideford two seasons ago. From there he went on to captain Barnstaple Town, joined the Farmy Army and then Evesham United, having moved to Kiddiminster due to family commitments.
Now back in the area, Fisher rejoined Barnstaple before signing on once more for Bristol Manor Farm prior to the pandemic kicking in. Now unemployed, and with no football to focus upon, Fisher decided to join more than 750,000 people who have signed up to a ‘volunteer army’ and support the NHS – with the United Kingdom having seen 73,758 Covid-19 cases resulting in 8,958 deaths at time of writing.
“I was delivering beer and working nights in a warehouse but got laid off because I was on a zero hour contract,” Fisher told The Independent. “We then found out we could get 80 per cent pay [due to the Government Job Retention Scheme] but, to be honest, I went online and saw they needed cleaners at the local NHS.
“I thought, instead of getting my 80 per cent, I will go and do a bit for them. I have been there a month now. At the end of the day, people are doing this all year round and others don’t see it.
“People are forgetting that it is not just coronavirus that [the NHS] are dealing with. They are still dealing with their day to day patients. I sat with a man who hadn’t seen his wife for four weeks after 64 years of marriage because she is in a care home. He got quite emotional so I stayed with him. You don’t just get seen as a cleaner by everyone else here at the hospital. It is a massive job. If you are not getting rid of the virus, everyone is going to get it.
“I would like to thank everyone, from the doctors all the way down to the cleaners and give a massive shout out to them and a big shout out to the NHS.
“Taunton School have been making boxes of food for staff, Dominoes have been delivering free food, we had free Easter eggs the other day – it is literally one big family. It is good because you need to try and keep cool at work – it is intense at the moment.”