A year on - there have been huge challenges but also actions to inspire everyone
As most people will know, it has been a year since the first lockdown restrictions were imposed on the United Kingdom, with each of the devolved governments making their own decisions on the coronavirus pandemic.
When it all started, we had seen how it was affecting other countries. We looked on as Italy started to impose social restrictions that had not been seen in peacetime before.
People were confined to their homes, except for essential purposes such as getting food in. We were allowed our daily exercise which many people took advantage of to discover new footpaths as they explored their home area with a new sense of discovery.
Households were thrown together like never before, with escape limited to those daily excursions.
Little room for manoeuvre
In our own case, we drew together and enjoyed each other's company for much of the time but for some, this proved to be a very challenging time. Where friction already existed in relationships, so it was exacerbated by the lack of opportunities to go elsewhere.
Businesses were closed overnight, workers were furloughed when they could no longer work, while others saw colleagues continue to go on with the daily routines, while their own jobs disappeared and they were supported in the same way.
As time went on, so it became clear that some businesses would not be returning, with the impact too great to survive such a radical shift in economic terms. Many have lost their jobs as restrictions have eased then been reimposed.
There is no question it has been a challenging time in the economic world but that may be considered as of little consequence, with so many families losing loved ones to Covid-19. Unable to say their goodbyes in the way they would have wanted, not only through being unable to be with them in their last hours, but also not able to mourn them with friends and family at funerals which, while still allowed, were on a much reduced scale.
Reasons for hope
But despite all this in the last 12 months, there have been celebrations to remember, a binding spirit that has drawn neighbourhoods together. The clap for health and care workers every Thursday night was something that had not been seen before.
Streets and neighbourhoods gathered while maintaining social distancing to show that communities were strong in the face of adversity.
Food banks continued to support those in the most need and volunteers went out in their thousands across the country to support those who were shielding to ensure they still had their essentials each week.
For some it has been a terrible year of loss and trauma and one that they will never want to relive but despite all those challenges, the strength of community spirit should be celebrated.
While many will want to get 'back to normal' and the vaccine seems to be helping us all to head in that direction, maybe we should all be looking for a new normal where we can enhance our neighbourhoods with an even stronger community spirit than existed before. Support each other through the challenges that are ahead and protect those who need just a little bit more help.
The pandemic has hit the whole world but as we develop more ways of coping with it and limiting its effect on the population, we can seek new ways of ensuring we all grow stronger together. It's important to remember that in the face of great adversity, there are those in society whose activity gives us all cause to be inspired and help to take us forward to greater things.
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