'Appreciate what we've got' - Hartlepool's Alice Skinner looks to the future as nation prepares for Freedom Day
An aspiring nurse who this year celebrated the 13th anniversary of her kidney transplant has called for people to be more open-minded about invisible illnesses ahead of Freedom Day.
Alice Skinner, from Hartlepool, had a life-changing kidney transplant at the age of seven.
Now, 13 years on, she has just completed an access to nursing course at Hartlepool Sixth Form, with plans to study child nursing at Northumbria University in 2022.
But Alice’s condition meant she became one of the 3.7 million people advised to shield by the Government due to being clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to Covid.
Ahead of many remaining coronavirus restrictions being lifted on Monday, July 19, Alice, of Clavering, has spoken about her next steps and just what these changes mean to her as a person classed as very high risk.
"I think we have been left to our own devices and a lot of it has come down to common sense, which a lot of people unfortunately don’t have,” she told the Mail.
"We are just left in the dark and you have to make the decision for yourself.”
New guidance for the CEV from July 19 advises to meet outside where possible, asks people to take lateral flow tests before meet-ups and “consider whether you and those you are meeting have been vaccinated”.
A number of CEV people, and charities supporting them, have voiced fears that some of the most vulnerable will be left without adequate support from this point.
Twenty-year-old Alice, who has had both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, said the updated Government information is “a bit ridiculous”.
“If people don’t want to wear a mask then it’s up to them, but I’ll still be wearing mine,” she said.
"I think the new guidance about staying away from people who are unvaccinated is a bit ridiculous. How are you supposed to know?
“People just need to be a bit more cautious and open-minded that there are people like us out there who are vulnerable and still feeling anxious.”
During the third lockdown, Alice took to social media to set up a Facebook and Instagram page dedicated to spreading awareness for organ donation, transplants and other chronic and invisible illnesses.
She hopes to use both accounts to build up a conversation around the topic, and hopefully help other people who need to be heard.
Her Instagram account has more than 800 followers and the platforms have allowed her to make new friends across the community
Looking towards Monday and beyond, Alice intends to take care and trust the vaccine so she, and the many others classed at CEV, can enjoy their freedoms safely.
"As much as I am not going to jeopardise my health, I just can’t stay inside all the time – I am 20 years old and I have to live my life,” she said.
She added: “We have all learned that life is too short to take anything for granted, and that things can change in a split second.
"We’ve got to appreciate what we’ve got.”
You can follow Alice on Facebook and Instagram @chronicallyskinnerx