We get it – we need to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives! Simple instructions based on sensible principles. Even better, the curve seems flatter as a result.
So why do so many of us find lockdown so hard? The problem is it’s so passive. For many of us, ‘normality’ consists of activity, industry - action. Admittedly, most of us won’t be saving lives on a daily basis, but we probably feel more productive than we do right now.
For me, an interesting side effect of the coronavirus emergency has been the re-evaluation of the jobs we really can’t do without. It’s refreshing to hear widespread recognition for social workers, delivery drivers, retailers and postal workers and it seems counter-intuitive to be doing “our bit” by staying at home while others are doing so much.
Walk for the NHS
Which is why it’s so great when people take matters into their own hands. This morning, Captain Tom Moore reached his objective – 100 laps around his Bedfordshire garden. Remarkable, as Captain Moore will be 100 years old at the end of the month, and when his 100th lap was reached, his JustGiving page showed he had raised £12.3m (and that has increased to £14.3m during the day) – all in aid of the NHS.
Humans are finding many ways to combat the impotence of staying at home. When Dr Katie Ward couldn’t get hold of the protective clothing she needed, she asked her local Mutual Aid group if they could help her find scrubs to wear for work. They are in demand as never before because so many health and social care workers are suddenly vulnerable to the spread of the virus – even consultant physicians and GPs, who wouldn’t usually wear uniform are currently finding them an essential part of their kit.
The response to Dr Ward’s request came in the form of Scrub Hub, a network of voluntary groups that began in east London. In a few weeks, some 50 hubs have been set up across the country. Skills, expertise and hard graft are being channelled into sourcing materials and a new cottage industry providing much-needed hospital workwear.
Incredibly, he's still with us
Sadly, the fight against the virus can be personal. Until a few weeks ago, Mal Martin was a healthy 58 year old husband and father from South Wales. His wife, Sue, has been talking, calmly and thoughtfully about the way in which Mal suffered at home for 10 days before being hospitalised Sue and her children had to prepare themselves for the worst. They were grateful for a precious few minutes in hospital with him. “We just told him that we loved him,” Sue told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week. “It was heart-breaking to hear the children tell him that they were going to make him proud.” Amazing that, having been given “zero chance” of survival, and after 17 harrowing days on a ventilator, Mal is starting to recover. He is still extremely ill, and has a long road ahead, but, “incredibly, Mal is still with us,” Sue said yesterday.
I have the skills I need to keep me safe
Coronavirus has not taken any of our regular worries or concerns into account and social distancing may take a particular toll on those with mental health issues. In today’s Guardian, a former psychiatric patient reflects on the change in their circumstances: they went from being sectioned for 10 years to being shut in their own home under lockdown. Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, they spent much of the last decade detained under the Mental Health Act. Being discharged from hospital in March should have been a time for celebration, but it coincided with coronavirus taking hold. In this case, fortunately they feel “equipped with the skills I need to keep me safe. I have a good network of friends and family who I’m staying connected with through phone calls, videos and messages”.
Once again, it’s great to see humans taking on this virus. It’s heart-breaking that we won’t all win the fight, but this glimpse of what’s going on around the UK today shows we’re giving it our best shot.