A WOMAN has thanked her employer for "changing her life" as support led to a diagnosis of PTSD, and praises the company for continued encouragement while working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Darlington EE customer service advisor Michelle Donald has praised the company for enabling access to counselling as she struggled with depression and anxiety, which then contributed to a diagnosis of PTSD by her GP.

The 49-year-old, who has worked at EE for four years, now feels she is giving back to the community in her "blended" role where she helps disabled and vulnerable people on top of other customers, as well family members of customers that pass away.

Working from home, she says very little has changed in her role but that she can empathise with the customers more.

Although EE has come under fire for not acting quick enough to get people working from home in the fight against coronavirus, Ms Donald, who lives in the Lingfield Green are of Darlington, says she was "shocked" at how fast social distancing measures were put in place, with hot desking removed and teams halved, spread across buildings and floors otherwise not in use, as well as a move toward pre-packaged food in the canteen and increased cleaning.

The woman, who was first a customer of Orange and then EE, has been working from home for four weeks and is "absolutely loving it", claiming little has changed but the increased workload of vulnerable customers.

Vulnerable and disabled customers, which are only deemed as such once a person has freely given that information to EE, benefit from additional services such as assisted device set up and delivery. It is up to the customer to tell EE they feel vulnerable – as many do in the current situation,

Ms Donald said: "The biggest thing for me is to help people. Before EE I was unemployed for a little bit and over the years saw different counsellors for different reasons, but mental health support through EE helped me deal with and overcome my trauma.

"Now I want to give something back. They changed my life, not just personally but in different ways, my goal now is to move up the company."

She says per personal development plan is still on track despite changes in the work environment.

Staff were also able to take office equipment home to ensure they had a suitable work station, which includes chairs, monitors, keyboards and even a home wifi modem.

Some customers in rural areas have also been offered mini routers, which act as an internet hotspot, to keep them connected during the pandemic.