Updated: Feb 13
As you know the majority of my posts are on Microsoft Power Automate and PowerApps along with other applications. This is a different kind of post.
We are in uncertain times, Coronavirus is very much here, we are having to encompass new ways of working, new ways of parenting and new forms of communication.
But in the last week I have seen a massive increase at a local level of communication and help that is being provided to the elderly and self-isolating. People are talking to each other much more than they ever have done before.
I live in Berkhamsted in the UK and the population is a mixed range of ages. Between myself and Lisa Hartley (a person I have actually never met) we have started a Facebook group and WhatsApp group that has over 2200 members. The primary goal of the group was to achieve 100% street volunteer coverage. We wanted every street to have a volunteer and for that volunteer to be the point of contact for that road's elderly or vulnerable people, whether that be signposting them to charities that can offer help or going out to the supermarket or pharmacy to pick up much needed supplies for them.
I have flyered my road, and had one contact so far. She needed hand sanitser and just someone to speak to, I love speaking to older people I think they have a huge value in society and have a lot to teach us.
But it made me think about how COVID19 will hopefully be a force for good. I truly believe communities will come together, new friendships will be formed and we will get through this together. It will be the only way.
The key for me in all this and to get through this are these principles:
We need to walk in another person's shoes, we need to truly understand what they are going through. I think in the past we, and I include myself in this, have for want of a better phrase socially distanced ourselves from others. Now is the time to come together and understand what others are going through at what is going to be a very difficult time.
We need to be sympathetic to another person's needs and wants, we need to understand that they may differ to our own because of a specific unique set of circumstances.
3. The ability to actively listen
This is hard, have you ever sat in silence with another person staring at each other - try it. It is hard. But this is a key to active listening. Staying in that silence and allowing the other person to speak and share what they need to. But then truly understanding what they mean is the active part. Don't be afraid to clarify what they have said. We are going to be dealing with all kinds of people from all kinds of background and understanding what they need and want is key.
This is a big one. I suffer from anxiety and have been struggling with this part recently. When news of coronavirus first broke I was scared, scared for my family, my friends and older people that I know. But with this new found love and involvement in the community, there are many people out there willing to help and support and you and I are not alone. Group courage will get us through this.
What have I done at a local level:
Between myself and Lisa Hartley and an amazing team we have been able to get 100% street (321 streets) coverage in Northchurch and Berkhamsted. There is a volunteer in each street who is leafleting the doors there to let them know they have someone to come too. This was mobilised very quickly and we were able to reach this figure within 5 days of starting the facebook group.
I will be keeping my social distance, but in reality I feel more connected than I ever have been while living in my town.
My hope for the future
I hope that our community sticks together after this. I feel this virus will be a big social reset for everyone, we will become more aware of those around us and be more compassionate to their needs.
Thanks for listening.