I thought I would switch from topic to topic in this blog series but realised that current events far and wide have had an influence on me and the lingering thoughts on the murder of George Floyd by a police officer last week in the US is still raw. For now I will continue with a focus on COMMUNITY closer to home but it was important for me to acknowledge this.
It was just so simple, stay at home. The month of June is where the complications begin. From schools to restaurants to live sport across the country and the world, “normal” is making a powerful comeback. The pandemic community is being forced to break up and make changes.
Lockdown is withering away— The overriding need to get the “economy” going is all the rage and “health” has taken second place. We are still being saved by our key workers as they battle to suppress the 38,000 or is it 40,000? 60,000? deaths on the official UK charts? A solemn №1 that we have in the UK. №1 in response, failure, vision and strategy but hey, roll on June and let the magic happen.
“The UK is №1 in response, failure, vision and strategy but hey, roll on June and let the magic happen.”
I thought I would get an insight from one of the chosen few who have been positioned to be one of the returnees to their place of work.
A recent conversation with my young nephew. Due to go back to primary school in June:
I could not help but smile! It says it all. That is his main worry at the moment.
I’m tempted to buy him a hazmat suit so he can wear it to school and see what the teachers say. 😈. What exactly is going on in school? What are the real complications? When a child walks out of the classroom which is fully socially-distanced-ready will he/she walk into the 4ft wide corridor? Is it clear at all?
I positioned this article around COMMUNITY and my thoughts covered many different strands in the lead up to this. I could not think of anything that binds a community more than a school.
Parents from all walks of life are forced to even give a small acknowledgement to their fellow parent at school, if they would not have a coffee with them anytime soon.
Children are the true bond in this setting as they go about their daily business and mingle with others. We know the unions have spoken, councils have spoken and parents have rallied together as a community to come together. I’ve had heated debates with friends on schools and you feel this is happening in every community.
The opportunity is that: “parents and carer community forge a stronger bond at this time” to really reinforce a common voice, constructive debate and a way to move forward in these times.
So, what exactly is it?
I have always had this” longing for community” for as long as I can remember. I’m a rare breed in my workplace (especially when I compare myself to my peers at work) of somebody who has born and raised in London.
This sense of having neighbours pop in for a cup of tea and knowing everybody in the area. Being looked out for by your neighbours and your children too. Trips to remote villages across Europe only reinforced this notion that it really exists and you can say “Good Morning” to anybody walking past your house. Wow, it’s a community! It’s so romantic I know.
The pandemic hit and so “we” were rooted. Around the time of panic buying the lovely offer of fresh meat and fish from Billingsgate and Smithfield markets by our neighbour was wonderful and we reciprocated with flour and so on. It was all real and this togetherness extended to the Thursday clap for the NHS and waving to neighbours I’ve never spoken to ever and the old lady waving to me like I was her long-lost Grandson! Yep, community was in motion.
But there was a darkness. The pandemic itself and especially how care homes became the centre of heartbreak.
As we extended our daily walk past a “sheltered home for the elderly” a few days ago I cannot even remember the actual sign but it resembled somewhere that was extremely hazardous.
I had thought about care homes a lot through this pandemic and initially I had always thought about the “artificial” nature of them. Why did they exist? Had the fabric of family society become so selfish that the elders were carted off the care homes? This was an idealistic almost untrue reflection.
The pandemic had shown that a country like Italy with one of the highest older populations suffered greatly and their sense of “community” stereotype was always strong where generations lived together. I always had a fear and that my elders would never end up in them, no matter what. Am I kidding myself given I am very much part of the “self comes first generation” or is it just a natural order of events that can happen out of choice or circumstance and not about being selfish?
I had thought about care homes a lot through this pandemic and initially I had always thought about the “artificial” nature of them.
Another way to look at this is that of the deaths that occurred some say 50% in care homes. With this proportion we would have been looking at 300,000 deaths across the population. One death is tragic and impacts so many people. 300,000 is devastation and the care homes in the community have suffered true devastation. I wonder why they are referred to as care homes in the community when the fabric of community is somewhat not there.
Do you really know what is happening in your community? Do you have a community? Do you care? Is your notion of community family and friends only or do you really consider what is being played out on your doorstep?
An old lady was struggling with her shopping about a month ago. It was very cold then. I mean struggling. My wife and I looked on…we could only social distance, right? She walked by a few days later and my wife ran after her and said we can help whenever she needed it. She does not know us? Can she trust us? Does she have family? Would we have offered at any other time?
I’ve seen her walk by the other day and thought why did we only notice her 4 weeks ago. She must have walked past our house hundreds of times but it took the pandemic to ignite our “community spirit”. Anyway, the romantic nature of what can be in this instance does burn strong as there will be no more clapping and the lady will walk on by and we will smile.
“The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth.” ~ Akan (Ghana, Ivory Coast) proverb