How are you getting on?
It is with hope that we type the following words and by that we mean Felixstowe is not in any sort of local, or national lockdown, making what comes next redundant! So, it is September and the plans are for schools to return, for workers to get back into offices and for us all to get on with whatever this new normal means to us. Did you enjoy using the Government’s ‘Eat out to Help out Scheme?’ Have you enjoyed the pedestrian only section of Hamilton Road between 10am-4pm? Did you, or will you, enjoy a UK staycation? We suspect how you answer some of those questions will give a clue as to how ready you are to ‘return to normal’ and how cautious you might (legitimately) still feel. After all, what is normal?
Here at Hope Trust we took the bold decision to re-open in August with a limited range of activities. We know that having our own small community building means we can control all aspects of its use, including cleaning, numbers in/out and enjoying sole use of its lovely facilities. Whilst the word that will forever define August will be ‘cleaning’ - at least we know that it is safe to use. If you haven’t yet ventured out to join us, please be assured that we take your safety, as well as that of our volunteers, VERY seriously indeed. Your experience will start with us taking your temperature, asking you to complete our Track & Trace Contact info; once you are seated you can take your mask off as it’s hard to drink coffee with it on! Our one way in, one way out system means a trip to the loo will include a few more steps than usual, but we’re all adults and know you can cope with that! Oh and of course, washing your hands or using hand sanitiser, how could we forget that important step! So, our Tuesday Technology Café, Tea & Chat sessions on a Wednesday and Friday are all currently hosted at Maidstone Hall between 10-12noon, with our Thursday Tea & Chat returning to the Old Felixstowe Community Association building, again between 10-12noon.
As mentioned last month we have taken the decision to prioritise the Autumn Bereavement Support Group and so this will be hosted on 4 consecutive Mondays, starting Monday 28th September, Covid-19 permitting. If you want to find out what the 4-week course covers, you can join us on Saturday 19th September at 10.30am, here at Maidstone Hall, when we will share a brief overview with you. Bereavement is tough enough at any time, but there is no doubt that loss during the pandemic has added layers of complexity to the process. Please don’t struggle alone, we are here to help, just give us a call to find out more.
So, there you have it, we are back up and running and looking forward to catching up with as many of you as possible. However, if venturing out is still too big a hurdle to overcome don’t forget we are also here to give you a cheery phone call, send a letter or write a short card; in other words you do not need to do this alone, Hope Trust remains committed to being here to help.
As the shielding advice for those aged 70+ and those with specific health issues is eased, even more people can now ‘experiment’ with a return to normal life. Through these last months whilst some people have interpreted the Government’s advice in their own inimitable style, others have been rigorous and stuck to every aspect of what they have been told to do. Now, this month, it is time for people to gather their courage and return to a different, but more interactive way of life. If any encouragement or help is needed, then we at Hope Trust, along with many other local groups, are here to help.
We know that for many people it will take time to build confidence before they feel comfortable to be in a large group or visit a busy area. Time and common sense will help build confidence. Yet there is a group that we have a particular concern for - those who have suffered loss through this time of lockdown. Loss, not just through Covid-19 but from other conditions and circumstances. We have heard stories, and watched stories on the news, of people who have lost more than one person; people who have organised more than one funeral online and over the phone. Hope Trust itself has been involved in funerals at Seven Hills where social distancing, no hugs and shortened service times have been the normal practice. That is why we want to let people know that Hope Trust is making it a priority to deliver our 4-week Autumn Bereavement Support Group, starting in September.
Grief is such an individual journey. Some people navigate it easily and quickly, others start off okay and then become more affected by their loss when the shock wears off and the reality of this new way of life seems too hard to bear. Good friends who have given their support during those early days have returned to their homes and ‘normal lives.’ What we have learnt running this course is that few people understand what is normal after loss, they can be caught unawares by the avalanche of emotions that may occur weeks or even months after the funeral, which is where Hope Trust comes in. Our Bereavement Support Group explores grief as a human response to a significant loss, its associated emotions as well as giving those who attend a chance, in a safe environment, to talk about their individual loss. If you would like to know more, then please give Hope Trust a call, we are here to help you move forward.
Hope Trust, like other groups, will be starting to reintroduce regular activities from early August. We won’t be able to start every activity straight away, but we’ll do what we can. For exact dates, times and how to join us you can give us a call or visit our website for more details. Let’s enjoy this respite from lockdown together safely, replenishing those emotional tanks that have been depleted over these past months. Hope to see you soon!
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. Imagine that, being able to both see where you have been and where you are going – at the same time! Why did this idea come to mind? Well, Churchill paraphrased a quote from George Santayana when he said ‘'Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’ As the next phase of lockdown is scheduled to be lifted, remembering what we’ve all been through, and not dismissing it as done, might just keep us informed as to how to move forward, or is that a forlorn hope?
Since the lockdown took place we’ve been chatting with volunteers, people who come along to Hope Trust activities, Trustees and donors as often as we can. We’ve listened as people have shared their lockdown struggles; when someone tells you ‘I haven’t touched a living creature in more weeks than I care to count’ it is a stark reminder of how tough this has been, is, and will be in the months ahead until a vaccine is produced. It’s also a reminder that now is not the time to become reckless or careless but to continue to practice all those simple instructions such as handwashing and, of course, social distancing. Are you, like us, amazed at just how different 2m can look to many people? We know this isn’t the way any of us wanted to spend the summer of 2020, but some careful living now might be the difference between ‘freedom’ and ‘isolation’ in the days, weeks and months ahead.
A feature of looking back and forwards at the same time is the ability to both see, and therefore remember, where you’ve come from as well as rejoicing in just how far you have travelled. Not looking back with regret, but hope. Not looking back so that you trip over what’s in front of you. It’s knowing that sometimes you have to forget what’s gone, appreciate what remains and look forward to what’s coming next. To be ready to start a new chapter, without endlessly re-reading the chapter before. This balance between learning from what’s taken place and building upon that knowledge should allow us all to move forward wisely, to heal, to grow and not to feel stuck.
Here at Hope Trust our work will move from being conducted on the phone, via cards and letters or online, back to a cheery chat over a coffee, interspersed by laughter and conversation from early August. This is what we can assure you of – the PPE is bought, the thermometer charged up and ready, tables and chairs are appropriately spaced, hand sanitiser dispensers are on the walls and fresh biscuits have been bought. We will get back to a semblance of normality, soon, but until then we will bear in mind all we’ve learnt, all we’ve observed, all we know to be wise (and unwise) and make sure that, as far as it depends on us, all will be well.