It’s not going away… so now it’s time we all did our bit!
I’ve been away for a few days on leave and tried to escape the news for a little while. I was not very successful! But, when I got back to my emails and messages and reflected on the latest thoughts on the progression of the pandemic, what struck me was the lack of change. It seems that COVID-19 is not going to take time off over the summer!
In fact, infection rates in early August have gone up. Many times I have said to myself and to my family, “We can’t just hold our breath and wait for this all to be over. It won’t be like that.” Yet again and again, I find myself thinking, “When lockdown lifts…” or “When things are back to normal…”. I have to give myself a shake and not just live for the supposed good times beyond the horizon – we need to live our best lives right now.
I often marvel at my grandparents generation who came through the war and the things they put up with: rationing, conscription, mass observation (well, they didn’t know about that last one). None of it was without cost to mind, body, and soul. Yet, they often talked to me as a child with a nostalgia for those times of a national pulling-together. Some of the best, and worst, of us can come out in difficult times. Public Health England has made available a great free online course Psychological First Aid, which explains how we can react to emergencies in many different ways.
We have seen some heroics at this time, but there are also those who are pernickety on social media – the modern version of Dad’s Army ARP Warden Hodges are out in force, tutting any perceived infringement of guidance and threatening to report family, friends and neighbours.
So, what can I do to play my part? If there is to be a second wave, what can I learn from the first wave for another potential lockdown in the winter? Here are some thoughts to consider:
The government is due to make the biggest ever push for the flu jab this year. It doesn’t prevent coronavirus itself, but it does stop people being weakened by the flu and therefore less able to fight COVID-19. It should also prevent more people from getting ill and taking up hospital beds which might be needed for COVID-19 patients.
The flu vaccine is one idea, but there are other preventative measures that you can take to keep yourself and your household healthy.
General health: Fitness, diet & exercise
I have always felt more akin to more rounded, jolly people, but the fact is that being fit and active gives us a greater ability to fight COVID-19 and to support those around us.
Boy, is it good to get out in the fresh air – and exercise and the outdoors brings me to the next point.
Mental health and wellbeing
This photo is from the North Coast of Northern Ireland with one of my kids climbing on the rocks. It’s not warm, there is not much sun, there’s always rain on the way – but it is my wife’s home. To do something good for your household’s mental health is really important. I think that getting outside into some form of nature is of great benefit.
What about others?
It takes some effort to not just focus on ourselves, particularly when we need to recharge. Everything need a balance, but it is interesting that the NHS has outlined 5 things to help well-being and that a number of these are about other people, or what I would call serving.
I think that both myself and my faith community could have done a better job if we knew beforehand what lockdown would entail. But we didn’t, hence the rush for toilet paper! But if we’re to have another lockdown, national or local, we should think now of what we need to do to get ready to support others.
Getting online is not the answer to everything – my family have been involved with sending letters and cards to those more isolated. However, if Granny isn’t online, is this not the time to club together and buy that iPad for Facetime? (Yep I’m stuck on Apple!). Better to train folk now that we can see them in person than to try to explain things remotely.
Share those ‘life hacks’
We have all learnt different things during this time; what time to get to the supermarket, how to make a meat loaf from a tin of spam, and that adults are unable to keep up with Joe Wicks’ exercises! But seriously, what things have you learnt and what could you tell others? What have been fun hobbies to develop?
I am not one of those people who have had more time as work has reduced – at FaithAction, things have got busier , but even I have done new things. Here’s a selection:
Three new online communities
We started our popular weekly FaithAction Coffee House, where we’ve heard from you and our special guests on a range of important topics.
Our Creative English team have been running an English learning community on Facebook
And we launched the Faith Covenant Forum with the APPG for Faith and Society, an opportunity for Covenant holders across the country to share best practice.
New online content for ourselves and partners
We launched our own Coronavirus page containing important information for faith groups, and then followed up with our Faith COVID Response project section in partnership with MHCLG.
And we worked with Mike Stevens, a close personal friend of mine, to design and launch a website to promote his life development services.
New podcast series
For Faithful Leaders, I’ve been speaking with various leaders on their faith and the directions we can take for the future, particurly in a new post-COVID society.
Ponderings is a brand-new website and podcast (launching today!) by myself and fellow FaithActioners Jeremy and Matt, which will bring together blogs, articles and interviews pondering life, faith, and society from a Christian perspective. Join our launch event on Facebook live at 4:30pm!
As well as other events
We partnered with YourNeighbor.org to help develop and launch the Engaging Locally toolkit, to help churches work better with local councils. You can also view the launch online.
Just concluded last planned #Covid19UK Places of Worship Taskforce. We were able to provide an update on the @GOVUK guidance + get helpful feedback. Thanks @bishopSarahM @CardinalNichols @HinduCouniluk Asim Yusuf, @chiefrabbi Ari Jesner, @GurmailMalhi @yousifAlKhoei @Shola_Adeaga pic.twitter.com/vN8oQgPZIE
— Stephen Greenhalgh #StayAlert (@team_greenhalgh) July 16, 2020
And I was honored to sit on the Government’s Places of Worship Taskforce and ensure the voices of faith groups across the country were properly heard in developing Coronavirus guidance.
And a fun bit of DIY
We would love to hear from you about what you have done in this period and how you have faced challenges, good and bad. Email us at [email protected]