Letters from Lockdown 53: Issy Steventon

Dear The Dockyard,

This is very specific, but I thought of people who have played a significant role in my life, and I thought of all of you.

Unfortunately (and fortunately), there are so many amazing people who have done so many amazing things for me at this beautiful place and honestly, I will never forget it. 

I remember when I went for the interview, because I was sixteen and I really needed a job, and I took a day off school just to go. My mum said to wear something bright so they would remember you, and I chose a lovely and smart orange patterned skirt with a black turtleneck. I met many of my colleagues (who were also hired at the same time as me) at the interview and I remember thinking, “Wow, they’re all so amazing!”

I was the youngest there, by a mile, and I thought I had no chance of getting the job. Which was a surprise when I found out, in fact, I had. I remember picking up the phone, and accepting the job, then after ending the call, screaming because I was so excited, then panicking because I thought my new boss had heard me. Luckily, she had not. Well, if she had, then I hope it didn’t seem weird.

We had these training days where we had these team-building exercises, I’m sure you’ll remember, and I can still see my two new co-workers saying, “You balance the wooden blocks because you look like you’ve got steady hands!”

I remember my first proper shift, and I definitely chose the wrong shoes. Not as in, they weren’t appropriate, I mean, they were. My feet killed by the end of that four-hour shift. I quickly learned that you can stand all day, as long as you have a decent pair of shoes.

My colleagues taught me to be confident, in myself, and in others. I loved hearing the work gossip and feeling so proud that I worked with such amazing people. I was the youngest there, which was a title I liked having, and being there made me feel for the first time in my life like I could be someone.

I could work for hours, and I was always ready to grab another shift, because it wasn’t just about the money, the people and the environment too. Hearing different life stories, and different experiences, and being a pirate and a fairy and meeting so many great people with so many great stories to tell, this place has a huge place in my heart.

In my darkest times, even when I was at school sitting across from my counsellor, even when I was in tears, I would say, “I want to go to work. I can be myself there, I can talk with people who understand me, and appreciate me.”

The Dockyard, specifically, the people there, (I won’t name them, for privacy reasons) changed my life. They made the hard times worth going through, because they were always there to give me a hug, or ask about how my then university applications were going. They didn’t see me as some young girl who was still at school and hadn’t experienced life yet, they saw me as an equal, as someone capable and as an adult. 

Without them, I don’t know if I would be here right now, sitting down at my desk, with tears in my eyes, missing them, but most of all, alive. 

I love you all, and thank you for everything you have done for me. I will come and see you soon when lockdown is all over.

Issy xx

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