Out & About: What has Covid-19 done for our community spirit
The UK’s response to Covid-19 has had an unexpected upside: it has demonstrated that we have an amazing capacity for generosity and community spirit at times of severe crisis. Feel-good stories about neighbours helping neighbours, clapping for the NHS and carers, and the heart-warming campaign of Captain Sir Tom Moore regularly graced the headlines, giving us a sense that all was not lost even as we battened down the hatches for a second time.
The nationwide and regional lockdowns placed a huge emphasis on local communities and the need for people to help each other, particularly the elderly and vulnerable. Caring for others has always been part of human nature but the pressures of modern life meant it often got pushed down the priorities list. Being forced to stay at home means we’ve unilaterally developed a new habit of looking out for one another and its one we’re apparently keen to stick with. According to a recent survey 68% of UK adults want to continue helping others even after the current crisis has passed.
It seems we’re getting used to being active members of our local communities. We’ve been discovering the joys of shopping locally, nodding at strangers even as we keep our distance on long walks, litter picking in the local park, shopping for elderly neighbours and offering up surplus loo rolls. Even during the pared-down VE celebrations in May many people set up picnic tables in their front gardens and drives, waving to each other and chatting from behind garden gates and privet hedges as they drank tea or quaffed a cocktail or two.
Who can forget the images of people singing on balconies in Italy? Or that over 750,000 people signed up to be an NHS volunteer? Or the hand drawings of rainbows in windows? This renewed sense of togetherness is a boost to our mental health, so its one that we should all work to nurture, not just for now but long into the future. Doing good gives us a rush, making us feel good in return, reducing our own stress and improving our wellbeing.
As we head into the new year we should try to remember that despite all the panic and fear that this historic global pandemic has brought, despite the uncertainty and the disruption, this crisis has truly illuminated the best of humanity. We’ve witnessed a revolution of kindness and communities coming together just when we needed it most. Don’t let it die.