The one year anniversary of going into lockdown was interesting. In some ways, it feels as though life has always been this way. It was also a very reflective day for most. Reflecting on what has been lost, gained or changed.
If anything, the past year has shown us the power in ordinary. The power in simple kindness and acts of service. We’ve learnt to overcome the adversity of dealing with a global pandemic by drawing together all that we have and all that we are to, quite simply, help. In whatever way we can. Help each other, help ourselves and help the world around us.
In Cornwall, lockdowns seem to have been characterised by wacky and wonderful characters, doing wacky and wonderful things, flinging the county into community spirit in overdrive. From doorstep singing and clapping, to mass masked protesting and everything in between, the people of Kernow have redefined the meaning of strength in numbers.
The postcard designed by Becky Wass, a passionate creative advertising lecturer at Falmouth University, was one such Cornish-born event that that travelled the world and back. Designed for neighbours who were self-isolating or shielding, the card was used in Australia, by football clubs and MPs alike. “I’ve seen the idea of #viralkindness move far beyond the postcard.” Becky says. “So many people are doing incredible things and I hope that continues.”
Kindness seems to have been the defining trait of lockdown inspired initiatives. The simple desire to do something when nothing could be done. To help someone, anyone, despite the odds stacked virally against us. “It was staggering to see how much help was needed and how much need there was for us to go out and help our local community” recalls Sam Oatey from Probus Young Farmers.
The organisation delivered food and necessities all throughout the first lockdown to people that needed it. Perhaps most moving of all, the story of a 98-year-old partially blind man living alone with his only relative, an extremely worried niece, that lived halfway across the country. “It was my highlight” the vibrant young filmmaker smiles in his voice, “it was such an incredible and overwhelming feeling of helping your community and people that really need it.”
But the help that was dished out countywide didn’t stop at practical. As the days merged and reality blurred, the passing of time became characterised by events. Events such as the Thursday night singalongs with musician and father of four, Will Keating. “It’s kept me going each week” Will shares honestly about the most recent lockdown, “if I hadn’t of done it, I don’t think I would’ve picked my guitar up at all.”
The singalongs gathered a worldwide audience, peaking with the virtual live performance for Voices of the Borough, of ‘Cornwall My Home’ after a clap carers one Thursday during in the first lockdown. “When you see the response of the people watching it and seeing it, during a really difficult period, you see how much people get out of it” he continues, “and I really started looking forward to that Thursday night.”
The journey of lockdowns have undulated with stories that have lifted us, like singing or helping our neighbours, and stories that have shocked us. “Anger” Fiona Crump states. “When I heard that the government had voted in the way they did, I just couldn’t make it make sense anywhere in my head.”
The warm owner of Castle beach café, muses over her experience of providing free school meals to children who needed it during the second lockdown and October half-term. “[it was] overwhelmingly wonderful. It became a trigger for so many other things. Sometimes people need permission to be kind and I don’t think I’d ever quite realised that.”
She goes on to describe the range of help she received, from people telling her to keep the 20p change to an anonymous donation of £400 in cash and everything in between. People came, dropping off loaves of bread or packets of chocolate biscuits or leaving offers of delivery if people couldn’t make it down to the café to get lunch. What went from a simple facebook post with the offer of sandwiches turned into a free meal phenomenon. At the end of the week, over £6000 of surplus kindness was donated to local foodbanks.
Of course, these stories are just a mere few that took place over the course of the past year in Cornwall. There were takeaways that fed hundreds of key workers with free food and emergency Christmas food boxes that were delivered to those that most needed it. There were bikers assisting with covid testing and doorstep portraits that became gifts of a lifetime. And all through it, people helped people.
People sacrificed what matters most, for the common cause of fighting for a future hope. A hope of a future with hugs. With ice cold pints on steaming summer days. With sandy beach barbecues and long ice cream lines and live music and bustling shops. “I have a two year old granddaughter that I hope remembers that she likes to cuddle me” Fiona smiles with glistening eyes.
And so, here’s to a future hope, of a lockdown free life.