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