Since March 23rd, all our lives have changed pretty dramatically, and terms like ‘social distancing’, ‘shielding’ and ‘lockdown’ have been frequently on our lips. I don’t underestimate the impact this has had on so many of our residents. Loneliness and isolation, already a big issue here, has been driven up. Many have seen their employment badly affected, and their incomes diminish or even collapse. Families have been facing challenges with keeping their children occupied following the closure of schools and nurseries; and key workers are dealing with unimaginable pressures in caring for the most vulnerable as well as maintaining essential services. Meanwhile, in many ways our lives have been put on hold, with so many future events being cancelled and our diaries being empty for weeks to come.
COVID-19 has certainly shown us that we can take nothing for granted, and that we can only live one day at a time. It has also enabled us to realise what is really important, particularly rediscovering the value of neighbourliness and community. We are especially proud of the ‘Daisy Chain’, the scheme driven by a new town councillor Daisy Gibbs where everyone in our area has a neighbour’s name and phone number to be called on when help is needed. Daisy has over ninety volunteers ready and waiting to serve. For years I have dreamed of having a ‘good neighbour’ in every street – it has taken COVID-19 to make this a reality.
Being restricted to our homes and gardens has also brought out the creativity and imagination of our residents too. The shared cheers, music and saucepan banging to applaud the NHS and key workers have become a weekly ritual. Rainbows in our windows, and teddy bears, and over Easter the virtual Easter Egg hunt, have brightened our walks. I personally have enjoyed joining with a neighbour to take a socially distanced weekly walk around our hamlet playing Cornish folk tunes – good exercise and practice for us, and hopefully bringing cheer to our neighbours. Technology has enabled teams and committees to meet online through Zoom and other conferencing apps; and also to link musicians and artists together, as well as providing a platform for teaching and sharing with others. It’s actually been exhilarating more than exhausting, as we discover our capacity for innovation out of crisis.
How long we shall be ‘locked down’ is at the time of writing this unknown. But I hope that when we emerge from it we’ll find ourselves in a new and revitalised community, not content to go back to as we were, but determined to live in a better way for our own good and for the good of others, as well as in a way that is better for the planet.
Keep up the good work, everyone – this parish stretching along the coast from Tregiffian to Rose Valley is a place to be proud of.