Meet Jas. He’s a bus driver for Go North East, on routes in Sunderland and County Durham. He loves football and lives with his wife and six-year-old son.
Jas is a bus driver for Go North East, a football fan, dad and husband.
2020 has of course been tough for us all, but Jas wants to thank everyone for all they’ve done to help slow the spread of the virus. He says we just have to keep on following the guidelines in the short term so we can all get back to normal again in the not-too-distant future.
Watch Jas’s video and find out more about his story.
“It is only by standing apart at this time that we can all stand together and beat this in the long term.”
Jas Singh is 42 and works as a bus driver for Go North East. He lives in Seaham with his wife Kamal and six-year-old son Mann.
“Over the last week, I’ve spent a lot of time at work. I love my job as a bus driver and I’m proud to be doing my bit by keeping people moving throughout the pandemic. The buses are much quieter than usual at the moment, as they are only being used for essential travel, and I miss my bus being full and buzzing with chat. I used to enjoy talking with my passengers and very much look forward to the day when I can see people meeting on the buses with their friends and family for days or nights out again.
I know that being isolated from friends and family, working from home, having the kids off school and having to deal with loss and change are all challenging – mentally, physically and economically, but I think the main thing to remember is that we are all making short term sacrifices for a much longer-term gain.
Lockdown is hard for everyone, but thanks to the North East’s commitment to following the rules we are starting to see positive results in reducing the R rate and some light at the end of the tunnel. It is only by standing apart at this time that we can all stand together and beat this in the long term.
We should be proud of ourselves as we have all shown remarkable resilience in combating this virus to date. It just shows what we can all achieve together when we do our bit and stay home. We have all made so many sacrifices in the short term – but by washing the invisible enemy from our hands, using our face coverings with care and keeping a distance from each other outside our homes and in the street – we are all staying safe. We just need to keep this going, to protect our long term futures.
I know first-hand how difficult it has been in particular for parents, carers and children. My six-year-old son Mann has had to adapt to so much throughout the pandemic – from home-schooling to learning how to cope without playing with his friends every day. My advice to other parents is to just have confidence in yourself. We are all just doing what we can – especially when it comes to home-schooling – and our best is enough.
The other thing I’ve learnt throughout the pandemic is how important it is to make sure we take proper time out with our kids. Just being present is the most valuable thing we can give our children, especially in the middle of a pandemic. I try and spend time playing board games with Mann or going out on bike rides. It’s the type of activities we struggled to fit in before and, whilst the pandemic has been tough, as a family it’s given us a new closeness.
My message to everyone is keep going, enjoy the closeness with your families and continue to follow the rules. We have all come so far, we will beat Covid in the long term together.”
“When I look back to this time last year, I don’t think any of us could have predicted where we would be today. We have now had almost 12 months of restrictions and I know it's hard for everyone, but I would urge people to keep going and not let their guard down, especially over half-term.
“I know how fatigued everyone is with restrictions and how tempting it will be for people to bend the rules over the half-term holidays. Like many others, I’m balancing my job with home-schooling a six-year-old and I know it’s tough. I would love nothing more than to go out with Mann to visit the coast or go for a woodland walk. However, I know that now just isn’t the time for that and we need to be patient. We plan to continue as we have been by staying local over half-term.
“My message to other parents and carers is to stay home and local with the kids. Taking risks, bending the rules or being careless can cost a life.
Check out the www.BeatCovidNE.co.uk website for a great article by one of my fellow campaigners, Sam Connor, who has posted some great resources for keeping the kids entertained.
“It is such good news that the infection rates and hospital admissions are going down in the North East, which means that the pressure on our NHS is starting to ease. We mustn't forget that the reason for this is that we have restrictions in place. The hard work and commitment of everyone across the North East is now starting to pay off – but we have to keep going.
“In a press conference recently Professor Chris Whitty said that the UK as a whole is 'past this peak' but infections are still 'alarmingly high' and did not rule out another peak. This reminded me that while cases are going down and the vaccination programme is now in full swing, we must not become complacent.
“We just need to continue to follow the rules, wear a mask, wash our hands and social distance. The best thing we can all do is stay home and keep social contact to a minimum. This is even more crucial considering that so many people are asymptomatic. Although you may think you are fit and well and would survive this virus, you could pass it on so easily to someone else who would not be so lucky. This virus is an invisible killer, so we need to be on our guard at all times.
“When I heard that Captain Sir Tom Moore had passed away I was really sad. What he did for the NHS was so inspirational and his fundraising will have impacted so many lives affected by Covid. He deserves all of our gratitude and respect as what he did will have a lasting legacy.
“Whilst we are not all able to make the same contribution as Sir Tom Moore in this pandemic, we must remember that we all do have our own role to play. By following the rules we have already achieved so much to reduce those numbers. I would urge everyone to keep up the good work, please don’t take any risks over half term and stay within restrictions to protect the people of the North East.”
"The transport network is only for critical workers and for those who need to make essential journeys. Please, everyone else, stay at home, don't travel and save lives."
Jas Singh is a 42-year-old Go North East bus driver from Seaham. A month into our third lockdown, he reminds everyone to keep following the rules and to use public transport safely.
“I love my job as I enjoy driving and find it rewarding to help people get to the places they need to be. I’ve been proud to continue working throughout the pandemic. I know that by going to work every day I’m doing my bit – from getting doctors and nurses onto the frontline to helping people get to the supermarket for their essentials.
Since the start of Covid, I have always felt safe at work as the buses are cleaned thoroughly and Go North East has also added a protective clear screen that separates bus drivers from customers. All of our communal areas are Covid secure as we all wear masks and regularly wash our hands.
I know that Go North East is doing everything to protect us, but I would like to remind people using public transport to strictly follow Covid guidelines – to protect themselves, my colleagues and other passengers.
That’s why I want to remind people that the transport network is only for critical workers and for those who need to make essential journeys. Please, everyone else, stay at home, don't travel and save lives. If you do need to use public transport, please play your part by adhering to the law and wearing face coverings unless you’re exempt, and also remember to social distance.
This is even more important at the moment, as this third lockdown has seen the virus at its worst. Covid is more transmissible than ever – and news of the tragically high death rate and new variants makes it even more worrying. I know the vaccine is bringing us all hope, but we aren’t out of the woods yet, which is why it’s so important to continue to follow the rules.
I know the Government is going to announce their plans for coming out of lockdown at the end of this month. I hope that they take a cautious approach as I think we need to come out of this very slowly if we are going to truly get back to some sort of normality
I’ve heard a lot of people are thinking about booking summer holidays, but for me, I think that’s a risk. Coming out of lockdown depends on how much the virus is spreading – which in itself is dependent on everyone continuing to follow the rules in the here and now.
I think the best approach is to take things a day at a time at the moment. We are all so used to planning and thinking into the future – but I think it’s nice to just focus on the present and enjoy that extra family time. None of us knows where this virus will be in six weeks, six months or even a year – so all we can do is to continue following the rules in the present and do all we can to beat this together.”
Jas Singh is 42 and works as a bus driver for Go North East. We spoke to Jas this week to hear how he’s getting on in lockdown, the importance of looking after your mental health and his firm belief that we must continue to follow the rules to beat Covid.
“This week I’ve enjoyed getting outside and enjoying some fresh air on my days off with my wife and son, Mann. One thing I have learnt over lockdown is how important it is to stay positive and look after your mental health. I find that a walk or bike ride outside helps us to clear our heads and it always gives us a boost. I would encourage everyone to find a way of getting outside during the day to help them stay active.
Looking after your mental health and getting some fresh air is especially important in this lockdown, as we have now had a long period of strict restrictions. I don’t think any of us could have predicted that we would be here a year ago. It’s hard for everyone to keep going, but I would urge people not to let their guard down in the fight against Covid. Taking risks, bending the rules or being careless can cost a life. Act like you have Covid and stay home – it’s the only way to beat this.
Hearing on the news that the UK variant is 30% more deadly and that the death rate has tragically now surpassed 100,000, is frankly quite scary – and another reason we need to be looking after our mental health as we process this information. However, hearing this also helps me to remember why we need to keep going – if by staying home, we save just one life, then it has to be worth it.
We must all follow the rules, wear a mask, wash our hands and social distance. The best thing we can all do is stay home and keep social contact to a minimum. This is even more crucial considering that so many people are asymptomatic. Although you may think you are fit and well and would survive this virus, you could pass it on so easily to someone else who would not be so lucky. This virus is an invisible killer, so we need to be on our guard at all times.
I’m proud that our region has rolled out the vaccine so quickly to the most vulnerable groups. I was also relieved to hear that my two aunts, who work for the NHS in London, have both been vaccinated. It’s such a relief to know that so many people are now getting some protection – although I do know that they are not completely immune from Covid and could still pass it on, so must remain vigilant.
With news of the vaccine roll-out, it does feel like there is hope that this will end. Just like everyone else, I do miss a normal life. One of the things I miss the most is watching Liverpool FC play at my local pub over a pint.
I hope that if we all work hard together now, we can cut down the Covid infections by the summer. I would love to go for a day out with my family in the sunshine. It would be lovely to think we can all enjoy some more normality when the weather improves later in the year.”
We spoke to Jas this week to hear how he’s getting on during lockdown, his thoughts on the vaccination roll out and a moment of radio stardom.
“I’ve spent a lot of time at work over the last week. I drive a few bus routes around Sunderland, Durham and Peterlee and I’ve noticed that the buses are much quieter since the schools have only been open for key worker children. It shows how limiting the number of children in schools has an impact at a wider level – as it means fewer people are commuting and mixing. I home-school my six-year-old son on my days off work, so I know first hand how tricky it is having the kids at home, but seeing how quiet the buses are, I can understand how the school closures can limit the spread in many ways.
A huge highlight of my past week was appearing on local radio, which was a privilege! I was invited by the BBC Radio Tees Breakfast Show to talk about my own experience of the virus after I tested positive over Christmas. I was proud to share my story and I hope it made a difference to anyone listening who may be thinking about bending the rules.
During the radio interview, I talked about how I’m generally fit and healthy, but the virus had a huge impact on my life as it completely wiped me out. The sad truth though is that I’m one of the lucky ones - the potential impact the virus has, particularly on the elderly and vulnerable, is unthinkable. Covid transmits so quickly and easily – we need to protect ourselves and each other by simply staying home.
I think that one of the worst things about Covid is the unknown. None of us knows how long this virus will continue to affect our lives or if we will catch it, and if we do test positive, how our body will respond. We can’t even be certain that we don’t have Covid at any given time, as 1 in 3 people are asymptomatic. However, one thing we do know is that the vaccine brings us all hope for the future. Covid is like an invisible enemy all around us, and the only way to beat it is to follow the rules together until the vaccines are fully rolled out.
I have read a lot this week about the incredible speed that the NHS is rolling out the vaccine. The number of people who have received it is phenomenal. However, I don’t think that we should all take that as a green light to change our behaviour. The vaccine is amazing, but it’s not a magic bullet that will fix everything overnight. It is going to take time.
In the meantime, we need to focus on what we can do in the present. I’ve found the death rate really alarming over the last couple of weeks. I just can’t help thinking about all of the families left behind and not being able to grieve for their loved ones in the usual way together. All we can do is continue to follow the lockdown rules – stay home, save lives.”
Jas Singh is 42 and works as a bus driver for Go North East. After testing positive for Covid over Christmas, we caught up with Jas to see how he’s feeling now. He also shares how lockdown three is affecting him and his family.
“Although I’m fit and healthy, having Covid over Christmas completely wiped me out. I was so lucky not to need hospital treatment, but I was taken aback by how much the exhaustion caused by the virus would affect me.
“Thankfully, I was well enough to return to work on Monday last week and it has been nice to get back into a bit of a routine. I have been working long shifts, from 9.30am until 8pm, which usually doesn’t affect me, but I was incredibly tired the first couple of days back. I’m pleased to say that the tiredness has passed now and I’m feeling more myself again. However, it has taken a good few weeks for my body to recover – which is difficult when you are used to being so active and fit.
“The main thing I think I have learnt after having the virus and having to isolate is how important it is to stay positive and look after your mental health. Now I’m feeling more myself, I’m enjoying being able to exercise again. The cold, dark nights and icy conditions have meant that I’ve not been able to go out on my bike as I usually would, so I’ve been going on my treadmill instead. The endorphins from exercise just give you a real boost and I would encourage everyone to find a way of getting a little bit of activity into their day to help them stay strong and resilient.
“I know it is hard and everyone is tired of the restrictions, especially during the winter. I think the toughest thing for us in recent weeks has been going back to home-schooling our six-year-old son, Mann. Although Mann does now have a few days in school while I work, which I’m incredibly grateful for – we do home-school on the other days. I firmly believe that you should only use a school place if you absolutely must, to help prevent any unnecessary spread of the virus at school.
“Adapting to home-schooling online has been quite a learning curve for us parents! I think kids are resilient and Mann is doing brilliantly with the change. Although it was tricky at the start, we can navigate things online a lot better now and have found a bit of routine. The important thing for all parents to remember is that we are all doing what we can. These are not normal times and we are all human – it’s absolutely okay to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of home-schooling, especially for those also working from home. Just remember that your best is always enough.
“I was a bit shocked last week when I heard that over 100,000 deaths have now been reported. It just got me thinking about the fact that this is more than a number – its 100,000 mams, dads, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters and friends. There are so many devastated families out there. It struck me that if I stay home, remain local, wear a mask and sanitise my hands and that prevents even just one death of a loved one, then all of this has to be worth it. That thought has kept me going over the last week or so.
“I’ve always been vigilant about following the rules and I think it has become second nature. Popping on a mask when I go to a local shop or into work, as well as sanitising my hands and social distancing, just feels natural now. By doing this, we are all in effect acting like we have Covid. By working together in this way we can all beat this by bringing the daily number of cases and deaths down.
“With the vaccine roll-out there is hope on the horizon. All we need to do in the meantime is work together to get to the other side of this. By acting like we have Covid and following the rules, I know there will be light at the end of the tunnel for us all.”
Jas Singh is 42 and works as a bus driver for Go North East. He lives in Seaham with his wife Kamal and six-year-old son Mann.
Jas tested positive for Covid-19 over the Christmas break, so we caught up with him to find out how he is doing and how he feels about the new lockdown:
“Christmas day was quiet for us this year – it was just the three of us at home, but it was lovely for me and my wife to be able to spend so much time with our son and play together with his new toys. Things felt so much less rushed, and although we missed our wider family, we enjoyed the time together.
However, on Boxing Day I started to feel a bit under the weather and over the next couple of days began to experience high temperatures and to cough. I went for a test straight away and tested positive for Covid.
Even though I’m fit and healthy, Covid made me feel really unwell – the temperature and cough were awful. Luckily I wasn’t so poorly to need hospital treatment, but the worst part of having Covid was the tiredness – I was completely wiped out and have never experienced anything like it. It meant that I was unwell for the rest of the Christmas break and New Year.
When the Prime Minister announced another lockdown just after the Christmas break, I wasn’t surprised at all. The number of cases has increased dramatically and the news of the new variant and how quickly it spreads is worrying. Having tested positive for Covid-19, I know first-hand how infectious the new strain must be and also how much Covid can take out of you, even for a fit and healthy person like me. We now know that 1 in 3 people with Covid don’t have symptoms, so we all must do our bit to protect one another by acting as if we’ve all got Covid and sticking to the rules so we don’t accidentally spread this deadly virus to someone vulnerable.
I think it’s encouraging to know that the vaccine brings us hope and a route out of this – however that doesn’t mean that we should get complacent and not follow the rules. At the start of the pandemic, it felt so strange to stay home, wear a mask, constantly wash your hands and social distance – but it all just feels so normal now, so we should all work together, now more than ever, to beat this. We just need to keep going.
That said, I do know that all of us are very fatigued by all of this and at times it is hard to keep going. In the new lockdown, the biggest change for us as a family is that our six-year-old son is now being home-schooled again. Mann is doing a lot of online schoolwork, but to be honest I think it’s more work for parents than anyone else! It takes a lot of time and effort to set the kids up and support them with their online work – especially at such a young age – but we are adapting and getting the hang of things. I think the kids adapt so quickly – it’s us adults who take a bit longer to get used to this new way.
Lockdown over the winter months is definitely different with children than it was the first time around. It’s too cold now to play outdoors as much, so we are all watching movies and playing games together indoors.
With the dark nights and cold weather, I also think that looking after our mental health is so important. I am lucky as I have my son and wife at home, but I feel for others who are alone or struggling with the financial pressures the virus brings. I would encourage people to reach out to others and stay in touch with loved ones. Alongside following the restrictions, being kind and caring to ourselves and each other is the most important thing we can do at such a difficult time.”
Jas Singh is 42 and works as a bus driver for Go North East. He loves cycling around Seaham, where he lives with his wife Kamal and six year-old son Mann.
We caught up with Jas to find out how his week has gone and his plans for a Covid-shaped Christmas this year.
“Our plans for Christmas this year are very low key as I’ll be working over some of the break. Usually, we spend Christmas with family in London but this year our plan is to stay home, just the three of us.
My sister lives in Ashington, Northumberland, so if we do decide to meet up with others, we will be careful to follow the rules. I think it could be so easy to forget the rules as they’re changing all the time, so I’ll double check them online. We all need to take responsibility to ensure we only meet if we feel well and follow the guidelines.
People should think carefully before deciding on whether to reunite with relatives and other loved ones. If you know someone who is particularly vulnerable or you feel unwell yourself – it’s just not worth the risk.
This week I’ve been thinking a lot about how much we have all adjusted to the changes Covid-19 has brought into our lives. At the start of the pandemic, it felt so strange to stay home, wear a mask, constantly wash your hands and social distance – but it all just feels so normal now.
At work at Go North East, we have plenty of guidelines in place to keep us safe – for example at the Bus Interchange we all wear masks and follow the one-way system. We are all used to it now and it certainly doesn’t stop us from having a chat and laughing together, as we always have done. It’s so good for you to spend time with others in this way - life has changed so much but we should all still be able to enjoy time together - just in a safe way, of course.
I have been lucky so far and fortunately have never had to go for a Covid test or isolate, but I know from friends that isolating at home can be difficult for people who have symptoms of Covid-19. Even if you have mild symptoms, it’s so important to get a test and isolate, as you are saving lives. By staying indoors you’re not risking passing the virus onto others who are more vulnerable.
I do hope that everyone enjoys the festive period, but that we all remember to follow guidelines so we can enjoy a prosperous and Covid-free 2021, together again.”
Jaswinder (Jas as he’s known to his friends) Singh works as a bus driver for Go North East and can often be seen driving routes around Sunderland and County Durham.
Jas lives in Murton, Seaham with his wife Kamal and six year-old son Mann. He’s a huge football fan and enjoys cycling along the seafront and trips to the park with his family.
Here he talks about how Covid-19 and months of tough restrictions have affected him and his family.
“So much has changed in everyone’s day-to-day lives and at work, in the Bus Interchange, we all now wear face masks and social distance. We don’t wear masks while driving for safety reasons, but we do have a screen up for protection. It was so strange seeing all the passengers on the bus in masks at first, but it is so normal and part of everyday life now.
People are really good about keeping a distance on the buses and we have lots of information onboard to remind people about hands, space, face. It’s really important that the message continues to be heard, especially on public transport, because this isn’t over yet - I wish it was. The buses are subject to a strict cleaning regime so they are Covid secure but we’ve all got to do our bit to stay safe. And if any of the drivers show symptoms, they isolate straight away. We can’t risk spreading the virus.
At the height of the pandemic, I had to spend two months at home and Mann was off school for six months. We were all so bored - normally we’re so busy but like everyone, we were stuck at home and couldn’t live our normal life.
As adults it was tough, but I think it is very difficult for kids – especially those like my son who have no siblings to play with at home. It is difficult finding ways of entertaining him as he just wants to play with his friends, he is so bored at home by himself with so little to do.
The thing I’ve found the hardest is not being able to visit our wider family for so many months - we miss them. I’m grateful though that we live in an age where technology means we can regularly make video calls, but it’s not the same as spending time together. But we have to keep going in this way to continue to keep everyone safe.
I am grateful to the NHS for everything they have done and continue to do throughout the pandemic. My aunt is a nurse and we have spoken together a lot during this time – so I know first-hand what NHS staff are going through. It’s been tough on them, they are doing such a great job.
For the sake of the health service, for our kids, our bus drivers, our shops and businesses we’ve just got to keep going, no matter what. If we relax, especially around Christmas, and forget to keep socially distancing, we’re going to be back to square one in January. I know I’m not the only one who wants to get back to normal.”