Well I didn’t think we’d ever experience anything like we are now. Terrifying for many and especially for those of us with underlying health conditions, or those of us with caring responsibilities for older friends and family members. That’s most of us here at Cohort 4. Additionally, there are many in our group who experience acute anxiety and panic over health issues anyway, so this situation is very unhelpful all round.
We cannot continue with our usual timetable of social gatherings, so what are we doing instead? As a peer support and peer mentoring group connection is what we do best. We’ve thought of ways around this to maintain the comfort of sisterly connection with each other. The first new way of connection was starting a reading group. Our Book Club has blossomed with a What’s App discussion and natter each evening to talk about the very funny book by Adam Kay, ‘This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor. So we chat away and this is really surprisingly comforting, evening being the perfect time to reassure each other, especially for those of the group who live alone. We’ve already ordered the next book and are mindful that book deliveries may become more expensive and harder to organise. At the end of this period of confinement, we may have a new shelf of lovely books for the start of a library…. or for me, another few to add to my pre existing hoard of books.
Others ways of connecting ourselves and with others
We are looking to be involved in Liza Adamczewski’s ‘Sewing Home‘ project, designing and sewing 12″ squares that will be added together into a big quilt and sold off for the Shelter Charity once this period of confinement ends. What an awesome idea to provide a distracting activity and to contribute to something beautiful with others for a good cause.
Then there’s our collaboration with Fare Share. What a fabulous organisation! Cohort 4 works with Fare Share who link in with the largest supermarkets to reduce food waste. We have our FareShare warehouse delivery this week. Masses of in date and perfectly good good items; from fresh smoked salmon, mince, chicken breasts, to frozen goods, tinned and fresh items. It might be that the label is stuck on upside down, or there was more than ordered by a particular store. It might be surplus crates of goods or where a detail is incorrect on labelling for example, they go to the regional warehouses and are delivered to community organisations who distribute the stock. We’ll be sorting this, bagging and safely dropping off on our women’s (and shush don’t tell anyone…. a couple of men’s) doorsteps this week. We will do this without making any contact physically with our group members, but in sharing resources we show care to our own community – we’re there for each other! Connected. We’ve been out this morning to a group member with nothing to last them until Monday…. sorted.
Community groups are so special
This is what creating a community led organisation is all about. Community groups are so special, they can be immediately responsive, with only the absolutely necessary bureaucracy and delays needed to step up and to help individuals. It has been lovely reading on social media of the groups popping up everywhere to keep communities cared for and safe. I’d like to think this might be an unexpected but positive change for society at least, in learning to move away from the individualistic greed and selfishness we’ve seen promoted over the past few decades. Politically, socially and practically we need a healthier look at ‘community’ and kindness. If we all reach out a little bit, just a little bit, nothing too scary, then we can have a colossal impact on each other and on our community.
We’ve been approached by one of our twitter friends, the CEO of a much larger charity offering a whole range of support. Breathtakingly generous and so welcome in terms of reassurance as we try to ride through this storm. Our funding organisations too have been fantastic, and impressive to hear the CEO of the Heart of England Community Foundation, Tina Costello on BBC Midlands today organising a Coronavirus Resilience Fund. We’re proud to be part of the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector here in the Midlands.
Thanks also to another of our friends at Canine Perspective for offering their support to our women whilst they are in isolated safety, you are awesome Marie! Even boutiques such as Sahara London are offering a chat for any customer who feels lonely during this isolating time. How lovely is that!
Take care of yourselves and each other
We are ‘women supporting women.’ We are still doing what we do best in our area of coverage: Atherstone, Mancetter, Hartshill, North Warwickshire, Nuneaton, Bedworth, Tamworth and outlying villages. Take care of yourselves and each other and reach out safely where you can. Meanwhile, I mourn the end of my last packet of chocolate raisins and am off to Facebook social media land to visit SewAngelicThreads where Angela is teaching sewing in a lovely safe space.