Not Quite the Rainbow

At the Why Not? Trust we are concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our community, we would all like to see the back of it. Most of us are struggling with the controls needed to stop the spread of the virus to protect one another; ourselves, loved ones and strangers. We’re all carers now, staying at home and keeping a distance is how we do it. The crisis is temporarily depriving us of the connections in our life and control over how we live it. The things we take for granted and the foundations for living well, purpose and belonging. We may seek to compensate for these losses by tuning in to social media, sometimes to be confronted by jarring content. Judgements being made about how people should and shouldn’t behave or clichéd memes that feel falsely optimistic. What we might need is something that says we’re all a little frightened and here’s something that might help. We’re all anxious and grieving for the loss of something or someone, worried for ourselves, each other and what we may yet lose.

There are stories of hope developing across communities and ours is no exception. The young adults involved with Why Not? are creating new ways of connecting through Snapchat, although the ‘olds’ are being blocked from seeing their posts, lest their hair turn a little greyer (fair dos). This is helping them not only to pass the time but to create a safe space for some to express anxiety and have this soothed. If sometimes only through a ludicrously funny post that eases fears, at least for a little while. Connectors are leaving groceries at the doors of their beloved young adults; this concern is being reciprocated by the young adults who are in turn checking in on their connectors to make sure they are okay. Conflicts from the past are being resolved because what’s happening right now makes them seem irrelevant. To paraphrase Gabriel Garcia Marquez[1], a moment of reconciliation can be worth more than a lifetime of friendship.

We have some members of our care experienced community who are Key Workers in care and health services. They are proudly going out to work every day to help fight the fight — our very own heroes. We eagerly await the stories we’ll hear over the coming weeks that consolidates our belief that those who are a part of our community look after each other and make a valuable contribution in the wider world. If you’re out on your doorstep applauding on Thursday evening at eight o’clock, think of them and clap a little louder.
We’ve witnessed our young parents get creative with their bairns, letting them paint on walls — with washable paint (obvs), baking skills are on the rise and they’ve developed an acrobatic flair on their trampolines. They’re going to give online nursery rhymes and reading activities a-go this week, it could be epic or disastrous, either way, it will be chaotic, and it will be fun.

While we’re working to adapt the way we develop, support and maintain the relationships that are at the heart of the Why Not? community, using technology and opening new lines of communication. We’re also trying to slow the spread of misinformation that can trigger fears and worry, by sharing regular updates from reliable and trusted sources through WhatsApp. There’s no substitute for human contact and we know there are some people in our midst struggling; ‘I need hugs,’ as one young person put it. Social distancing measures are necessary to ensure everyone is kept safe from the virus, but it is important that we make sure distancing doesn’t become social and emotional isolation and we uphold our commitment to continuing relationships (#RighttoRelationships). The secondary implications of which may be most keenly felt by some of our young adults with care experience living alone, compounding loneliness and the inevitable anxiety.
Sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to bring into focus what really matters and give rise to extraordinary humanity: courage, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. The stories we’ve heard speak to these qualities but there’s a way to go before this is over, so they are not quite the rainbow we’ve been praying for, not yet anyway, they are a welcome glimmer of hope, none-the-less.

Some words from our Why Not? Trust Community

“Being part of the Why Not? Community means we know each other really well and having group chats means we spot when someone is being noticeably quiet this allows us to check in on that person and each other. We’re just so there for each other. There’s always one of us who can lift another up. We’re thinking of having a self-isolation come dine with me night soon…could be interesting.”

“Coronavirus has affected me in so many ways, I cannot take my child to do any fun activities or even go to the supermarkets. It has also affected us as a family as my partner works away from home and is only home at weekends which stops him coming home because he has to use public transport, it has affected me mentally as I am not used to staying in the house this long plus its really boring not being able to have the freedom of going places and doing stuff. This is a lonely time, but I know I’m doing my bit.”

“Over the past 14 days, I have remained in my own house to prevent the spreading of this heartless and destructive virus (COVID-19). In this time of self-isolation In this time, I have had on my own my post-treatment (cancer) depression has got worse because I have had time to think about things and if it wasn’t for my family and close friends it could have been a lot worse. One thing I can say the lockdown has strengthened my relationships with the people I love the most.”

-Nicki McLaughlin and Danny Henderson with contributions from members of the Why Not? Trust Community
[1] Marquez, G, C (1970) One Hundred Years of Solitude. Harper and Row. New York.