Never thought I’d be moving into my first permanent home in two years in the midst of a UK lockdown due to a pandemic! Remember when we moved to Barcelona, planning to save enough money to buy a house in a year and Brexit ruined it? Well, I was hoping this time would be easier. How I was wrong.
If you’re already an anxious person, you might want to stay off social media for the short term, whilst global society seems to be crumbling before our eyes at record speed. I don’t think my generation (Millennial if you need the label) has ever lived through a global crisis quite like this before. My last memory of something even close would have been the rise of the war on terrorism, but with much of that happening abroad or in specific cities, it was not necessarily felt equally by all. Sure, it fuelled racism and intolerance, which in part led us to where we are now, but Coronavirus is something different. We can’t see it, we don’t know who has it and we don’t know when it’ll be over.
Unless you’ve been living without media or internet connection for the past few months, you know the story. So, what is there to be hopeful about when all we’re hearing is panic, anxiety and death? Well, despite all that is happening, normal life does still attempt to go on and we have to maintain some kind of sanity. So, how can we flip this bad news on it’s head and look for hope during Coronavirus lockdown?
Highlights the Real Heroes of Society
One of the most poignant revelations in UK politics since the Coronavirus took hold, is the sudden revelation that those people who were previously classified as “unskilled workers” on the post-Brexit immigration scheme, are now confirmed to be the ones we rely on the most during a crisis.
Sure, this shouldn’t have come to a surprise to most normal people, but if you look at the wages of an average NHS worker or consider the unfair employment schemes of many delivery drivers then you’ll understand how much it hurt for these essential workers to be classified as “unskilled workers”. Although we can feel sympathy for the extreme and challenging working conditions that many of these key workers now finds themselves in, we must realise how much we took them for granted in the past and ensure they are protected in the future. A weekly clapping outside of your door isn’t really doing much is it? As much as it feels like a positive gesture and a way to unite communities during difficult times, it’s not going to change how these key workers are treated now or in the future. Start to research, physically say thank you when you receive help from key workers and see how else you can vote/protest/support the essential workers that we’ve all taken for granted for so long.
On my first lockdown supermarket shop, I spoke to a cashier in Sainsbury’s who told me that this was the first time in her long career that customers had actually acted thankful to her, as it if took a global pandemic and media induced panic-buying for the general population to realise how much hard work, these low paid workers put in so that we can have the basics in the cupboards and reliable healthcare when things go wrong.
Then we’re onto the legions of parents suddenly thrown into home-schooling whilst also working from home, some in not ideal and cramped conditions. Now we learn how difficult teaching is and how ill prepared some of us will be to adapt to the dynamic change. Sure, YouTube and video games will be safe, as so many adults will lean on them for entertainment support for children whilst they’re adulting in the background. I spoke to one women, who lives in a small two bed flat in London and suddenly has two teenagers and a partner at home full time. Might not sound too tricky, but how do you facilitate work/study for four people full time in such small accommodation? Do you even have enough computers/tablets for everyone to get on with their work at a reasonable rate? Remember, we didn’t have much warning for this so there was little time to prepare.
When this is all over, this period of history will serve as testament to those who are genuinely most crucial to society; workers in the food industry, delivery drivers and postal workers, nurses, doctors and teachers. We should value them highly, ensure they are supported and paid fairly. Maybe shift the focus away from “unskilled workers” since all work requires some level of skill and consider the inequality in wages instead. Those “unskilled workers” are just “low paid workers” they are skilled and they are important.
Showcases the Problems within Politics and Society
There’s nothing quite like a global crisis to make people really take notice of the flaws in society and their political systems. People can’t follow simple instructions or good advise, the people in power don’t always know best, quality communication is key, British people value toilet paper and pasta over all else, which was surprising. The list goes on.
My first thoughts when Coronavirus emerged, was that it had probably arrived at the worst possible time for the UK. We’ve just pissed off the European Union after a seemingly endless Brexit phase and the rest of the World isn’t best pleased with our love for Trump and the States. Plus, we have the NHS (one of the few British institutions which I think the rest of the World might be a tiny bit envious of) slowly breaking down, being sold off and underfunded for 10 years. I still don’t understand how we can believe any of the Coronavirus stats given that so few tests have been happening in the UK. Can we see all the flaws yet?
In addition to my point on “unskilled workers” we’re also being shown that perhaps the UK political system isn’t as robust or trustworthy as some may have thought. Perhaps this is the crisis that will strengthen individual’s desire to vote and to reveal the truth behind some of the alignments that have proved popular in the past, perhaps what we were told wasn’t how it seemed? Perhaps we need to do more independent research and start enthusing our communities to care more too.
Many of us had never experienced the UK benefits system (or Universal Credit as it’s currently known) before, as the number of unemployed people suddenly surged due to companies becoming unable/unwilling to support staff during business closures, many of us learnt the flaws of this system for the first time. When was the last time you tried to live on £250 per month? Does that perhaps explain to us why the lower classes of the UK are stuck? Do you perhaps feel a bit awkward about how you talked about those on benefits before all this? Perhaps it’s not as easy as you first thought.
On a more positive note, Coronavirus lockdown has also drawn attention to how many existing complaints we had, that we were told were impossible to fix, that are now suddenly possible. For example, working from home, how many bosses told you that your role was impossible remotely? How many teams will take this home working dynamic and choose to embrace it when this is all over? Giving homes to the homeless, seemed impossible and now hotels and other temporary accommodation is suddenly available. So many impossible things become possible during a crisis.
Makes Us Re-Prioritise Our Lives
With lockdown comes an influx of new content looking to monopolise on these unprecedented/difficult/unusual/strange (delete as necessary, perhaps choose the adjective that you’ve seen used the least number of times) times. Businesses trying to hang onto to the little business they can still capture or having to shift focus completely with little warning, individuals trying to maintain a sense of normality by continuing to document on Instagram and an overload of self-help style content that encourages us to start a new business, learn a new skill or tick off something on your bucket list whilst staying home. As if we didn’t already have enough pressure on us to just exist as normal with all these new restrictions in place, whilst dealing with a uncertain financial future for most.
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What we actually get the chance to do during Coronavirus lockdown is take a chance to re-evaluate our lives and consider how we might make some changes when things get back to some kind of normal. Perhaps, you’ll return to normality with a new routine of baking your own bread (banana or sourdough is the baking choice of Covid-19, don’t you know?) or maybe you’ll return with a brand new future-proof career plan? There are so many ways in which the lessons we learn during this phase of lockdown can help improve our futures, it’s up to you to choose what’s truly important to you, your family and the community you create for yourselves.
Overcoming Challenges Will Make Us Stronger
Life is never without it’s challenges. This is just a new one to most of us. The countries that have seemingly dealt better with the epidemic, are the countries with a longer history of dealing with extreme weather or social health issues. The UK wasn’t prepared, the UK transport system can’t cope with leaves on the track and a centimetre of snow on the ground, so it’s no surprise that we couldn’t cope with this. However, it will make us all stronger, how can it not when we’ve been thrown into new, unknown social and economical constraints with so little warning?
Whether you’re suddenly having to learn how to home-school children whilst juggling working from home or you’ve been thrown into a new industry to make ends meet due to loss of your previous career. There are so many scenarios, big and small which will present us with a challenge to overcome. Not only will overcoming these challenges make us stronger, they’ll also aid us in in deciding what really matters to us all.
And at the end of the day, at least the UK will hopefully learn from the errors that happen during this pandemic, ensuring that any future scenarios are better managed and taken seriously. I do not envy the work of governments and healthcare professionals around the world right now. It’s a big job to keep everyone informed, whilst also risk assessing how to ensure that Coronavirus will have minimum long term impact on the economy and personal health. This period of history will change the social and political dynamics a lot, although it may be filled with death and anxiety right now, I hope that it will teach us to be better at many different things in the future.
Here’s hoping it’s over soon so we can find some kind of normality again.
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@wearefoodscouts & @KitschInc. Digital Marketing & Creative Direction. Illustration, writing, creativity & style. Fan of films, TV, cartoons, colourful hair & clean beauty. Blogger since 2009.