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Keeping in Touch – 16/6/20

At the start of lockdown, we all hoped that it would be three weeks at home with some discomfort and inconvenience, but that we would soon be back to normal. We called our friends and families on the phone, used various video-calling tools at our disposal and generally tried to get on with it. As time went on, keeping in touch in a meaningful way seemed unfathomable – how were we to feel sociable (in a way that satisfied our need for contact)?

As the weeks have gone on, we’ve seen really interesting responses to this question.

The Dungate family shared with us how they delivered home-made friendship bracelets and cards and put pictures in their window.

(Cards Made by the Dungate family, which they delivered to friends and family to keep in touch contactlessly during the initial strict lockdown. Image used with permission from Emma Dungate.)

In fact, all over the world, people have been using their windows as exhibition spaces: putting teddy bears up for the bear hunt, pictures of rainbows for the NHS, VE Day banners, more recently, messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and rainbows for International LGBTQ+ Pride month.

For business, lots of us are using video meeting room applications. Lots of people are holding weekly quizzes with family and friends and taking part in online events. It’s a great way to keep in touch, but also prone to mishaps. RCM staff with animals have had more than one interruption during team meetings!

For one of our young contributors, Lottie Marchant – aged 9, this was a perfect opportunity to interview her friends and discuss their views and feelings on Lockdown. You can watch her very impressive work here:

Lottie told us that it made her feel “secure knowing that she wasn’t alone in her feelings”; the value of virtual social interactions and shared experience, though different for us all, has had a positive impact on many of us.

Weekly contributor, A. Rowell shared:

My American family have put me on a “Family Group Whatsapp”, so we can put pictures and comments on our phones which we all share! It’s wonderful (though I do need to remember to put my phone onto “alarms only” at night, because they are still sharing things at a time I want to be asleep).

A. Rowell, 16/06/20

And true enough, many of us are in group ‘chats’, talking and sharing to maintain a connection, but one weekly contributor asks this:

But I remember a talk I heard, given by the wife of an Arctic explorer who accompanied her husband to all sorts of far-flung and remote places, who said to us: ‘You learn something from everywhere you go – from every single place you visit.’ I thought about this afterwards and I’m sure it is true – you learn something new from every place you go and every person you meet. Well, I’ve met up with a couple of people in a socially-distanced way, and of course I talk on the phone nearly every day. But I haven’t been anywhere. And I’m not going to be going anywhere either, probably for quite some time, unless circumstances change. How will I feel about that, if I haven’t been anywhere for six months? For a year? Or even longer? Will I have stopped learning anything? Of course I have enough to get on with here, and we can all learn things from reading books and from talking to people, even if it’s on the phone, but – mightn’t it be a little like becoming a hermit, or a recluse? Wouldn’t one need – something else, I don’t know what, to fill in the gap of travelling and seeing new places, or even of just going into town? It’s quite a different sort of life, isn’t it?

Kate Mole, 27/05/20

For many people, it has been a very difficult and truly isolating time. Thinking back to Lottie’s video, how difficult it must be for children to lose their social time, particularly for those without internet or technological access; to those who have more complex needs; to those whose lives have real challenges; to essential workers who have been avoiding their loved ones to protect them.

From now, we are able to create a ‘bubble’ with another household, and people with young children, or vulnerable people who live alone, are able to go and meet with others. The guidelines can seem confusing and so many of us continue as we did before, but I notice in my area that family groups are visiting more regularly, and fewer cars are parked along the streets during the day as we start to return to work. We watch to see how this will progress.

If you would like to share your experiences of Covid-19, please get in touch with us at [email protected] or read the guidance on our website. The Covid-19 Cornwall Collection will act as an important resource about the virus and its effects on Cornwall and the wider world.

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