Community is Everything – COVID reflections
Community is everything
Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents got it.
My own grandmother lived through the Spanish Flu pandemic and two world wars. She lost her husband and brought up my father as a single parent whilst running the family business. She had none of the mod cons we enjoy now and there was no welfare to state to fall back on. Back then the extended family and community drew together to support each other through challenging times.
Somewhere along the line that community spirit has been eroded. It’s become normal not to know our neighbours and to see extended family members only on high days and holidays. When it comes to business many companies don’t know their customers or suppliers by anything other than a name at the end of an email.
Our lockdown experience
The Covid lockdown has caused us to reflect on our relationships; with ourselves, our family, friends, community and business. For some the lockdown came as a welcome relief, for many others it has caused mental health issues and financial hardship. It has brought out the best – and, sadly, in some cases the worst – in human nature.
At home the start of lockdown prompted the setting up of a Facebook group for our street. We came together as a community, using the Group to keep an eye on those struggling. Someone was always available to allay fears, offer help and advice. We all took time to look out for each other. As an example, when a friend had an accident with a blender, a doctor living across the road examined her and went with her to the hospital when her own family were not able to.
Throughout lockdown, those of us who were able helped those who were not so fortunate. There was a certain excitement to it. We’d drop off bags of shopping on neighbours doorsteps, feeling like black marketeers when we’d been able to source hard to find ‘luxuries’ – like toilet roll, flour and yeast! As a community we swapped cakes, arranged home made pizza deliveries, shared boxes of books, jigsaws and garden plants on driveways. On Thursday evenings we gathered outside (properly socially distanced, of course) to clap for the NHS. Over the weeks the clapping grew to include Bagpipe and drum playing. We ‘met’ neighbours who we’d previously never had time to get to know.
On a Business front, we’ve all heard about, and possibly had experience of, large suppliers who have actively worked with clients, spreading payments or offering other much valued support. On the flip side, there have been businesses who have let both their clients and themselves down; not touching base with clients to see how they are managing, in some cases not even responding to clients when support is requested. Many of these businesses are now paying the price for their lack of customer care with clients moving their business elsewhere.
Some clients have been forced to press the ‘pause’ button on projects, at the same time paying what they could to suppliers. Recognising the importance of maintaining the relationship, supporting each other through the pandemic crisis with an eye to the future and working together when projects are re-launched.
In many organisations staff have pulled together in a way that we haven’t seen for a very long time. Whether as key workers or within a business setting people have demonstrated a ‘heads down, lets get on with this’ mentality that’s reminiscent of the Dunkirk Spirit of the Second World War.
If COVID has shown us anything it has demonstrated just how much we rely on others and are relied upon ourselves. Overall COVID has given us a sense of what we can achieve by working together. It has brought us back to Community and it has allowed us all to truly embrace the sense of community in business.
My biggest hope, when we return to a variance of our past lives, is that this deeply ingrained part of our human nature doesn’t disappear back under the surface again. We need to realise that however busy we are, when things are bad the Dunkirk spirit in us all will get us through.