Tents to Get us Through: A poem for the camping care staff

Across the UK, dedicated carers, NHS staff and key workers and making great sacrifices in order to safely carry out their roles and tackle the spread of Covid-19. In some cases, this even means isolating from their families and moving out of their own homes in order to protect vulnerable patients and family members alike. Whether it's Dr Nick Dennison, who moved in to a motorhome near Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, the Teeside telecoms engineers camping in a local garden or the care home staff at Victoria House on the Isle of Wight now living in tents outside the home, there are plenty of inspiring stories to be found.

Poet Penelope Lewis – who previously wrote "Home Safe to Bell" – was so moved when she read about the staff at Victoria House that she took to writing a poem for them, penning four beautiful verses and posting a letter to the care staff team to show her appreciation. The poem, Penelope told Cool Camping, is dedicated to "all these amazing carers who are camping outside care homes (and of course staying inside if there is space) to enable isolating with all the residents". It is also, she continued, "a salutation to the tent in times of difficulty".

Tents to Get us Through

Usually, when you come out of the bag
Creased, crackling with the sand
still in your ubiquitous folds
It is time for fun; the excitement -
Of Getting Away.

You are now pitched proudly
At work, ready, for your night shift
A welcome refuge for tired heads

Late in the evening the lights
of the Care Home signal a path
Across the lawn, where earlier
Everyone sat together, in the sun
A trusting circle of rugs, tea and cake
You too, waved your open door flaps
In the breeze - navy, green and red
Residents exchanged wise words
Of Getting Through...
With carers who had devotedly
Moved in too.

It is dark when you really go to work
When your zips close and form a cocoon
Your thin but strong walls and roof
Allow the soft rustlings of the garden
To lull your weary campers ready for sleep
And await the birdsong that heralds dawn.

By Penelope Lewis, April 2020