Community mindedness through Covid-19
Four ways to stay connected through coronavirus social distancing
One of the missions of Community Hubs Australia is to reduce social isolation. Humans are social beings, and we know that social isolation is bad for our physical and mental health. Community hubs specifically target migrant women with young children, but the unusual circumstances that we face with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic means we all need to look out for one another.
Creating and maintaining a sense of community doesn’t have to be place-based. While a shared geography is one element of community, it is not the only one. True ‘community’ is a combination of elements and the only single element it relies upon is that something is shared. It can be a shared location, nationality, occupation, or, more importantly, a shared experience.
At the moment, we are all sharing the coronavirus pandemic experience. Within that experience many of us feel fear, which doesn’t often bring out the best in people. But we can acknowledge that fear, and move beyond it by maintaining our community mindedness. There are things that you can do to help yourself and others feel and stay connected to your community.
Be a leader and stay calm
It’s important to remain calm, even if you don’t particularly feel calm. We know from large national and international disasters and our own personal experiences, panic does not improve any situation. In most cases panic makes things worse (as evidenced by the panic buying we continue to see). If you can remain calm you will be helping your family, colleagues, neighbours and your community to do the same.
Make technology work for you
It’s terrific to see a number of social media platforms being used for community good during the pandemic. Neighbourhood Facebook groups are one example of this. These are being used to send messages of support and to share local information. Join a watch party or a live-streaming event. The Melbourne Zoo is live streaming the animals, and National Gallery Victoria (NGV) is doing virtual tours. Why not arrange with a friend to watch at the same time and then call each other afterwards for a debrief. One particular Facebook Group “The Kindness Pandemic” has members sharing stories of positivity that are coming out of this topsy-turvy time. You can join this group here.
Is there someone you know who can no longer leave their home? Knock on their door and offer to pick up supplies for them if you’re going shopping for yourself. If you did some panic buying, think about sharing some of your supplies with those you know are running short. Or if you see toilet paper on the shelves, don’t buy it all for yourself, message your community and let them know where they can buy some.
With the latest government requests that we stay home unless we absolutely need to go out, connecting with others can seem too hard, but it’s worth making the effort to do things differently. You don’t have to be standing next to someone to feel a personal connection. We’ve seen this on the balconies across Italy. Talk to your neighbour over the fence, or through your back window. Give them a call or drop a note in their letter box.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation – but it does mean that we all need to make a bit more of an effort to stay in touch. Remember that this is a temporary situation. Life will return to normal, but the fear lies in not knowing. While there is uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to become creative with how we stay connected.