What Isolation Can Teach Us About Community

Monday, 11 May 2020 Bath, UK

Something I have loved about lockdown is seeing communities come together. Seeing neighbourhoods hosting (socially distanced) BBQs, seeing companies collaborate on Instagram, seeing supermarkets, restaurants and businesses, big and small, making changes and reducing profits to salute and honour the valiant hard work of our NHS.

If being quarantined has taught me anything, it’s how much we need each other, and being in the midst of a pandemic has proven that everyone has something to offer. From kids colouring rainbows and displaying them proudly in their front windows to bring hope and joy, to Captain Tom Moore, a 99 year old war veteran raising millions of pounds by walking laps of his garden. Everyone has something to offer, and everyone is vital. 

All jewellry from Voice - gifted
  mirror - gold version linked here

So let’s fast forward to when this pandemic is over (and it will be over!) and life resumes in a new normal. What will have changed? Will we have changed? Our mindsets, our priorities, our habits, our choices?

I saw a quote on Twitter (via Instagram, I can’t get my head around Twitter) from Jerry Lorenzo Manuel that said “The biggest loss in the end is if we come out on the other side of this unchanged”. I think this is poignant and I think that this is true. But in order for this pandemic to have a positive effect on the way we do community it will require us to be intentional, to continue to live with an attitude of selflessness and continue to come out of this supporting people, even at a cost to ourselves. 

This pandemic has taught us to identify a need and then empower the right people to fulfill that need. It reminded me of the communities I was so privileged to witness and be a small part of when I was in Kenya for a month in 2017. Everyone, no matter their age, gender, education or beliefs had a role and everyone fulfilled that role with a joy and passion that was contagious. The people within this community were equals because they understood that it took everyone coming together in order to live life well. The love that rippled through these communities was undeniable and it was beautiful. I remember coming away from that trip thinking that we could learn a lot from the way these people did life together.

I’ve also had the honour and privilege to work with Voice International recently; a company founded by a beautiful friend, Tash, who saw creativity alongside poverty during her time in Uganda and did something about it. She saw a need and empowered the women in that community to use their artisan skills to fill it. And so, Voice was born. The women who are a part of this creative social enterprise now have a regular income, meaning not only can they guarantee that their bills are paid, but they can dream for their futures. This enterprise is founded in community because they realise the importance of it, and it is their foundation in community that has led to their success.

All jewellery from Voice - gifted

For us, maybe the initial change is hard or even painful. That is understandable and it’s okay to feel that way. But what if we intentionally made our new need for community a lifestyle? If asking if our neighbours need anything from the shop didn’t just happen in lockdowns. If street BBQs and doing life with our neighbours happened anyway. If we listened and learned from the children around us and tried to live life exuding hope and joy and excitement. If we worked together, like the communities around the globe, knowing everyone has a purpose and everyone has something to offer. 

There’s an advert on TV currently (Nationwide, written and performed by Laura Smyth), showing a woman writing a letter to herself to read 6 months from now. She says “how are you? I really mean that, because we really mean that at the minute, when we’re asking. I don’t know if you remember, when we’re checking in with each other we really care about the answer: how are you? [....] And how’s mum? Listen, we are really missing her, don’t take her for granted, ok? We are really missing her”. I love this idea. What do we want to remember when this is all over? What do we need to remember to appreciate?

Just imagine what could change if we did that. If we still meant it when we asked someone how they were. If we were still willing to grab our neighbour milk from the shop. If we remembered how much we missed our family when we couldn’t just pop in and see them. If we were all willing to sacrifice just a little bit to help out someone struggling that we don’t even know.

You know what, I think that would be just wonderful.

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