We both sat down and listened to our Prime Minister share the slight adjustments he and his Government plan to make to the Coronavirus lockdown. Whilst not the clearest of messages - ‘stay home’ was always going to be clearer than ‘stay alert’ – once again we were forced to face the fact that for us, and many, many more people like us, things aren’t going to change that much for a while longer. This reality is both sobering and vaguely depressing to us in equal measures; there will be no quick or easy solution to what’s going on until a vaccine is found and we can, finally, get on with our lives. Then we had a chat and as so often happens, started to get a changed perspective on this new reality, after all, it’s not all bad, is it?
After all, when was the last time we could watch National Theatre productions, without paying a penny? Thursday evenings have seen us tuning into the National Theatre At Home’s YouTube channel. We’ve laughed along with the audience of One Boss, 2 Guvn’rs starring James Corden, been entranced by Treasure Island and whilst expecting to watch Benedict Cumberbatch as Frankenstein’s creation through (my) fingers clamped firmly across (my) eyes, to our amazement it was truly a-m-a-z-i-n-g! All for free! We could go on to mention Friday nights and The Show Must Go On, also on YouTube, featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals – oh, Phantom of the Opera was a visual delight – and Les Miserables really is!
Then there are the walks. Who knew our town had grown so much, or had created so many pathways for pedestrians and bikes? Or the delight in finding newly built estates that are really quite lovely, as well as reminding ourselves of footpaths we haven’t walked since the children were small. Then there is chatting (socially distanced of course) with people you don’t normally see, or know, saying ‘hello’ and ‘sorry’ as you seek to maintain that 2m distance, even if it’s by walking into an unusually deserted street! I could go on about the fun in getting a letter with the PO’s ‘Happy Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero’ franked on it, something we might never have had the time to notice before all this started. Then there’s the joy of an extra 30 minutes in bed as the commute is now a few feet, not miles, or putting the washing out and getting it in before it rains!
We could go on, but think you get the gist of where we ended up? It’s not all bad, it’s definitely different, but each day has something good in it and for our sanity, we’ve found that focusing on what’s good and trying not to let the negative overwhelm us can be the difference between a good and a bad day. Don’t get us wrong, we’ve both gone through tough days, but taking time to remind ourselves of what’s okay helps us to redress the balance.
So, there we have it, we, like you, will get through this. We will be able to meet again, one day, just not today. So until that time comes, don’t forget we are happy to ring you for a chat, email you with some funny jokes or even invite you to be part of a Zoom get together. Hope Trust hasn’t gone anywhere, we are still here, working to help older people. So please stay safe, stay well, until we can all share the amazing stories that this experience will give us.
Our Survival Plan
What a very strange Spring 2020 is turning out to be. Instead of enjoying the emerging colours in the garden, going to the occasional car boot sale or a walk along Aldeburgh High Street with a stop at a popular fish & chip establishment, instead we are growing accustomed to queuing for essentials, hopefully in the sunshine and not the shade, as some vicious north easterly winds are still blowing! Life has been changed in so many ways as we all adapt to this new ‘Covid-19’ reality. For us, we have moved the office from Maidstone Hall to our dining room (the commute is much more enjoyable!) and we are able to stay in touch with many of our regular Guests, Volunteers, Donors and Trustees. If you would like a friendly chat, then simply give us a call and we’d be happy to oblige.
For us, we quickly realised we needed to work out exactly how we’d survive this traumatic change to our everyday lives and so more by accident than intentional design we wanted to share our 5-point survival plan:
- Create a structure – As we are still working from home, we quickly worked out the best way to spend our days, keeping work and home sort of separate. So, we are still at our desks (the dining room table!) at 8.30am opening laptops, reading emails, writing reports and all the usual admin associated with leading a local charity. We stop for lunch at 12.30 and go back to the table for any outstanding emails/phone calls that need to be made.
- Vary the Days – When the question was asked ‘exactly what day is it today?’ we knew we had to find ways of marking out the weekend from weekdays! So, Saturday is defined by shopping for elderly relatives and neighbours, then coming home to clean the house. Sunday has become known as ‘pyjama day’ for obvious reasons!
- Exercise – We are so pleased that we can go out for a walk each day, getting into the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine, going in different directions and reminding ourselves of public footpath routes has been amazing. Who knew there was so much building work going on, new walkways created, amazing extensions added or little bridges where kids as big as us can play Pooh Sticks!
- Stay Connected – It has been wonderful to see people step up and volunteer, whether it’s via the local Helping Hands group or the NHS volunteer team. When great grandchildren send a card and pictures to Great Grandma, that means a lot. The use of electronic communication has also been a lifeline, however you manage to do it, please stay connected. Our website features our regular Facebook posts, they can be found on the bottom left of the home page and include short videos and pictures.
- Space – As a loving husband and wife team we have worked out that, in order to survive this experience well, we each need some space, some ‘me time.’ So, from after our afternoon walk and until the government update, we each occupy different rooms! Jigsaw puzzles and reading for one, music for the other. It’s important to work out what works for you, in your environment.
So, there we have it, assuming we take our own advice we, like you, should get through this. Please stay safe, stay well, until we can all meet up again.
Getting the simple stuff - right
When this article was first written (early March) the current crisis we are facing was looming but not yet upon us! So, we had thought to share around the theme of ‘Getting the simple stuff right.’ At that time Hope Trust had a sign on the door sharing information with people as to what to do during this turbulent, worrying time and the first simple step was ‘Wash your hands with hot water & soap for at least 20 seconds.’ So simple, so easy, literally anyone can do it we wrote – but will they? We wrote this because, on a recent trip to Ipswich and a well-known café, at least 3 people left the toilets without washing their hands at all! We ask you, who does that? Especially at a time like this, never mind the threat of Covid 19, what about simple, personal hygiene?
As always, chatting about these careless actions led us to wonder whether, or not, we get the simple stuff right all, or at least, most of the time. It’s easy to be polite, but are we? It’s simple to chat with a neighbour, but will we? It’s easy to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ but do we? It’s thoughtful to post kind words on Social Media, but can we be bothered to do that? It’s right to care for the environment, in whatever small way we can, but do we remember to take that bag for life with us? It’s simple to support local shops and businesses, but is it easier not to do that?
Here at Hope Trust we are challenged to get the simple stuff right. To remember people’s names; to answer the phone within 5 rings; to confirm what was talked about when we meet someone for the first time in a follow up letter; to do what we say we will do, in the time frame we’ve talked about; to make sure that someone is always available to open the doors (early) for each and every activity….
And that is where it had to change…….
Following the Government’s advice which has changed things so drastically, here’s our new ending to the article! For the next 12 weeks we are saying that, whilst we (Paul & Sheila) are working from the office, all events are on hold until we are told it’s safe to meet up again. Our challenge remains - what can Hope Trust do for older people between now and then? Well, our Trustees had agreed that we would move to be a friendly voice on the phone, having a regular chat, if folks want us to. We will also seek to offer practical support through this crisis by hlping people work out how to collect prescriptions or shopping. We are facing a real challenge as we have to find new ways of making sure older people don’t get too isolated, but for now, perhaps the first step is to give us a call or check out our website.