"Small common place things"
13/05/2022 (Staff Post - Alice McBride )
This year's Mental Health Awareness Week theme of Loneliness feels particularly timely as we reflect on lockdowns and the way we feel being back in our communities as everything opens back up again.
I’ve recently been listening to Sorry for the Dead by Nicola Upson; I’m not usually a murder mystery fan but I’ve challenged myself to broaden my horizons. It has a dark and upsetting opening, so content warning if you decide to pick it up, but there are a few lines which really struck me as I was listening to them on the walk to work.
It opens just after the Second World War with the narrator heading to the shops.
“Whenever she found herself in a crowd these days she was increasingly struck by an emptiness in people’s faces. By a flat, going-through-the-motions air which she had never been conscious of before, not even in the depths of war. It was as if this fragile peace, no matter how longed for, lacked the exhilaration of wartime. The shared sense of purpose that had helped people forget their fear and their grief. The danger had passed, but gone too was the laughing in the street, the instinctive kindnesses from one neighbour to another, and it was these small common place things that mattered most to people.”
Thankfully COVID did not have the sheer numbers of victims as war but there is something in those words about banding together through hardship and the shift I have felt coming out of lockdown.
The pandemic and its lockdowns were not the same for everyone but there was a sense, at least for me, that we were all going through something collectively.
There was extreme loneliness for many during lockdown, but there was also a great coming together. Longtime neighbours meeting for the first time, lost friendships renewed thanks to newly learnt Zoom skills, groups of people coming together to support one another.
And now, as we move towards returning to work and our social lives, and the news cycle turns and turns, there is a danger that some things will be forgotten. That the banding together and support will dwindle. But also that those who are not ready to return yet will be forgotten too.
In the rush to return to normal we shouldn’t forget the lessons learnt and the adapted ways of connecting with those who are most disconnected.
Overseeing the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund has meant we’ve been able to support both in-person and digital projects that bring people together. Projects that were funded for our first year are now underway and I am sure the whole charitable sector will learn a lot. I know I already have. I have also already had the pleasure of hearing first-hand the difference the projects are having and there’s lots more to come when we launch our second year in the summer.
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Information on the funded organisations for the Community Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund is here: https://engagerenfrewshire.org/couch/uploads/file/succesful-applicants-list.pdf
You can also follow our Instagram to see examples of projects and activities: instagram.com/renmhwb
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