Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas and inspiration from across the world which demonstrate how real action can accomplish positive social impact. There’s no denying the utter tragedy of the coronavirus and number of lives lost. It’s difficult to fathom the impact it has had on individual families as well as the economy. In the darkest of times though, there is evidence of deeper connections and stronger communities emerging, perhaps setting standards for how we could move forward in a post-pandemic world.
Whilst the coronavirus had been building momentum at the start of 2020, it was only when we went into lockdown that for many of us, it became a reality. Plans were cancelled and a ban on non-essential travel meant we were confined to our local areas. It was during this time that many of us started to get to know our neighbours for the first time, reminding us of what functioning communities look like. “Functioning community” is an interesting choice of phrase, it suggests that there is work to be done to “fix” our dysfunctional neighbourhoods, perhaps broken due to our previously busy and frantic lifestyles.
Isolation and elderly people who need help with groceries aren’t new problems, but their plights have undoubtedly been highlighted by COVID-19. The hope is that these new connections will continue long after the threat of the pandemic has passed.
The UK has seen a lot of support for the NHS during COVID-19, and this initiative is no exception. A small team of just six from the UK set up a crowdfunder known as “positive news for the NHS”. Recognising that many NHS workers were suffering from stress, trauma and burnout because of COVID-19, the aim was to send 4,000 copies of the Positive News magazine to these key workers. In less than a month they hit their target of £12k and continued to raise even more. Initiatives like this, as well as #clapforcarers, really show the best side of us, coming together with compassion and empathy to support others.
Women for Refugee Women existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, working with women seeking asylum in the UK. But when we went into lockdown they found themselves in a difficult situation, unable to connect these vulnerable women as they had done previously. Without the option of face to face support, the charity reacted quickly and moved online. Now over 300 volunteers call these women regularly to check how they are doing. Their #sistersnotstrangers ethos will be vital to so many women during this time. The ability to react quickly and continue to provide this vital support really is a testament to Women for Refugee Women.
During lockdown, most recreational activities are off the table, including the cinema, live music and theatre. Undeterred, Czech theatre director Karel Kratochvíl acted quickly, putting together an arts festival in Prague, which people could attend from the safety of their own cars. Much like the old fashioned drive-in cinemas, customers could watch movies, plays and music with the sound being streamed through their car stereos. Whilst it’s not quite the same experience as being in a room full of people, it's still created an experience where people are collectively enjoying a performance with others, allowing them to feel connected in a different way. We love how at the end of the night a round of applause was replaced with a round of car horns!
We came across this interesting Ted Talk recently in the form of an interview with Priya Parker. Priya is the author of “The Art of Gathering” and shares her experience and thoughts about creating meaningful connections with others during the coronavirus pandemic. She discusses the difference between gathering online versus in person, and how we shouldn’t always assume that an online connection can be replaced by an offline one. Priya explains that we need to think about how we can use this extraordinary time to come together, creating moments where we can “gather better”, encouraging intimate and purposeful connections between people.