Creative and Flexible

Since the beginning of April, a range of new words and phrases have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary, included amongst them are social distancing, elbow bump, social isolation, infodemic (the spreading of information, often unsubstantiated about a crisis) and WFH (not an expletive in this case, but Working from Home). Also, an updated phrase that appears is social recession and the meaning is described as being a period of widespread deterioration in quality of life among members of a community, especially due to reduced interactions and weakened social bonds.

This pandemic has affected all of us in some way with the resultant separation (social isolation and social recession) from friends and loved ones, impacting on employment and education, sports, leisure, holidays, and life in general. The consequences have of course been worse for those families who have lost loved ones, and the strain on those key workers especially in the health and care sectors has been enormous.

For many of us, this pandemic has provided an opportunity to learn new technical and IT skills by using Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Face Time, WhatsApp and others to help maintain communication in both our work and our social interaction with colleagues, friends and family. As a result, we have been able to get a peek into other people’s homes to admire their ceiling light fittings, choice of books on bookshelves, artwork, colour schemes and where they hang their bikes in the background.

Many people have become home teachers, others have tried new activities, for example flour production in the U.K increased tenfold to meet increased demand from home bakers – and the creativity displayed in maintaining social bonds and contact has been clearly evident. I wonder where all those sourdough loaves ended up! In my own area of work with children and young people separated from their own families, I have witnessed volunteers, temporarily denied face to face contact with the young people they are supporting, devising a range of activities to maintain social interaction. For example, one volunteer arranged delivery of a small pasta machine to a young man isolating, and he was able to remotely learn how to make perfect pasta via Zoom. The crisis that we are all experiencing is an opportunity to adapt, to be creative and to be flexible in how we do things.

Cumbria CVS, its staff and volunteers, have clearly demonstrated this by responding positively to changes in working methods and practices and in supporting a range of local groups, charities and other organisations to continue to deliver essential services, including to the most vulnerable in our communities.

They have played a leading role in supporting local charities, especially with regards to the fantastic response from the community in Cumbria for volunteers; they have quickly identified and signposted financial support opportunities throughout this period; and supported the NHS, Local Authorities, and the wider community – all of which they continue to do.

As a Trustee of Cumbria CVS, I feel privileged to be a small part of an organisation that has responded quickly in supporting the services for the most vulnerable in our community throughout this difficult time.

Alan Culley
Trustee Cumbria CVS