Feel-good Special 2020: Lockdown Heroes

feel-good special

There were so many people we wanted to show appreciation for in our new Feel-good Special 2020.

Unfortunately, a few of our “Lockdown Heroes” never made it to the page. So we’re giving them the room they deserve here on the website . . .

Thomas McGrade took on a role at Tesco during lockdown to help the store cope with the huge demand for online deliveries.

Many supermarkets across the country found themselves overwhelmed with large numbers of customers suddenly ordering their shopping online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many other staff taken on during lockdown, Thomas had not worked in a supermarket before.

“I was working as a personal shopper in the Tesco.com department,” Thomas explained.

“Basically I was going in between 4am and midday to get the shopping people had ordered online so it could then be sent out to them later in the day.” 

Thomas says the store where he worked in Glasgow had to take on around 10 new staff every fortnight to handle the huge increase in online orders during lockdown.

Tough hours

“Lots of young people, many of whom will be really badly affected by economic downturn, took on roles. They adapted really admirably, working a pretty thankless job and tough hours but really putting a good shift in.

“For the regular workers, their jobs really became quite a lot more stressful and difficult. More of them were older and probably a bit more susceptible, but again they got on with it,” he said.

The combination of early starts and reduced public transport during lockdown meant it was difficult for workers such as Thomas to physically get to work. However, members of his Tesco team pulled together and shared lifts to ensure they were able to fulfil their role.

While the rest of us stayed indoors, Thomas — and the millions of other supermarket workers across the UK — quietly carried on working to feed the nation.

Keep calm and carry on

“It was nice to have a focus and something to put my energy into,” Thomas said.

“There was a real mix of people, but everyone was extremely helpful and welcoming.

“Obviously it’s a bit repetitive and tiring. But it makes you appreciate how hard lots of people have to work for not enough money.”

Read about the rest of our Lockdown Heroes inside the “Friend” Feel-good Special 2020. It’s on sale now — click here to order your copy!

For more on our new Special, click here.

Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.