Category Archives: Communities

The Changing Conversations around Social Care……

When I say the words “Social Care” to you, what images, what thoughts spring to mind? Like most, you probably have said ‘vulnerable’ ‘needy’, for older people amongst others maybe? You’d be like most people in society. But what if we wanted to change the way people thought about Social Care? How would we do that? Certainly a mammoth task…….

But we all know the current system doesn’t work so something has to change. Social Care appears to be the poorer cousin of the NHS…we talk about “Our NHS”, yet Social Care is seen as happening to others, someone else’s problem…..

I wrote about my involvement with Social Care Furture with Neil Crowther and Philly after our last meeting – you can read it here if you like? They were just my initial thoughts.

https://whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com/2020/08/20/my-community-my-future/

Well we had our second meeting last week, to hear the findings of some focus groups they’d run. The aim being to find out what the public thought and then trying to change the way they think.

Normally, if I was in a room for the meeting, I’d be typing away happily throughout but on zoom it isn’t possible. My writing has gone really up the creak over the last few years but on that day I thought I’d try my faithful post it’s again but just write a few words on each – key words that might spark recognition. By the end I’d finished the post it pad and had a pile of somewhat illegible scrawl. Some I could make out some I just didn’t have a clue. I also took screen shots of all the slides to help me write this as well. So we’ll see how it goes……

At the moment the Social Care system functions around people fitting into services. But does the government know what we, as individuals need to feel enabled and supported? Of course not because they make assumptions that we all fit neatly into boxes. We’re offered services not choice. So maybe the change needs to be to offer choice and not to be told what we might or might not be eligible for as what’s available may not give us what we need in order to have a life?

Government departments work in silos at the moment instead of working together, another problem for Social Care. Philly gave the example of the Department of Works and Pension penalising you for having a spare room which maybe leads someone to not being able to have live in support to provide care. Nothing is joined up.

People need to feel ‘valued’, ‘of use’ no matter what their situation. Like people with dementia still need to feel valued yet we’re so often written off. The medical world offers us nothing positive and so often follows the line of ‘There’s nothing we can do’ so the balance of medical and social needs to be addressed.

So how do you move from a vision so entrenched in peoples minds of social care happening to someone else? We need something concrete to offer people. Social Care needs to be seen as general health and well being, not something accessed just at crisis point.

The company that had been tasked with holding a focus group  gave us a breakdown of the process. The first stage being a ‘Mixed Persuader’ group – 22 people from different backgrounds, of differing ages, sexes etc, but ‘persuadable’ simply because they were politically middle ground – neither extreme right wing or left wing.

All this took part over 5 sessions across zoom.

They were asked initially “What does a good society look like?” They all agreed with our concept of

But they were entrenched in the concept that it happened to others and therefore had nothing to do with them. As I said before,  strange how we call the NHS “Our NHS” yet social care is for ‘others’

The NHS is seen as an entitlement yet being in receipt of social care has negative associations.

The long term narrative has to change, the language used, the messages given out. The media and political climate is hard to change and influence and it’s them that often influence how people think.

Covid has provided us with a good example of coming together as one. People playing by the same rules. People respond better if they have something concrete to follow. So once masks were brought it, it gave people ‘permision’ to wear a mask and not feel stupid, so more wear masks. Obviously you’ll always have those who don’t follow the rules but these are then frowned on. A simple message clearly stated is more accepted and understood than something woolly and unclear – as we’ve seen from the government throughout Covid.

As the 5 sessions went on for these 22 ‘persuders’ they began to see our way of thinking, but were still stuck as they needed to know ‘who would be responsible, how would it work practically? Our ideas appeared too idealistic and they wanted the detail of who, when and how?

We accept we have to pay taxes for the NHS but not for social care at the mo as it still happenes’ to others’ in many peoples minds so not relevant to them and therefore not acceptable to have to pay taxes.

In my opinion, the NHS mixed a trick during the worst of Covid – people stayed away from A&E for fear of getting Covid. It was used for the right reason, for emergencies, but mishaps and people becoming unwell didn’t stop happening, so where did people go? Maybe they ventured to pharmacies for advice, Minor Injuries Units or asked family or friends. They didn’t need A&E; they went to the right place for help. But quickly the ‘norm’ has returned and people are back using A&E inappropriately.

We need to create a society of ‘interdependence’. We often talk about enabling people to live independently but really everyone is ‘interdependent’ on someone or something else in order to live their lives. Stuff happens in our lives that leads to us needing extra support. I could say I live independently but I don’t. I can’t manage to live alone, as I wish to live, unless others support me.

I loved the blob tree slide above that  they showed to demonstrate this…

Community assets aren’t seen as social care, yet my community supports me without even realising it. I support people without even realising it. I post my pictures, which make people who have been isolated, feel happier and enable them to feel part of our community and less isolated. So ‘resources’ are within all of us within our own communities. We can give as well as take support.

Often bureaucracy comes in the way of people helping one another. Covid, again, has come up with the example, whereby communities wanted to help feed one another. Normally there would be reems  of paperwork and bureaucracy  to pile through, but this was all cut and stopped and communities were allowed to cook meals for those who needed them and deliver them.

As one slide said:

So we are part of the solution – each and everyone of us. We carry a complex history re social care, how we see ourselves and one another. We need to get away from the concept of Social Care as a service that we have done to us. So who would be the ‘responsible agents’ – ie who will be responsible for delivering all this change. Well we have to get the right balance between Governement and local commissioning right.

At this point in the meeting we were split into two groups magically on zoom, very clever….

The challenge was:

to explain in straightforward terms how it is we would like social care to be organised in future to deliver our vision and who can and should do what in the immediate future to start moving us there.  We’ll be expected to imagine we’re sat at a bus stop with a minute to tell a stranger in a way that might hopefully enlist their support.”

 It was so difficult to be succinct, and once back together, time for a sneaky piccie of some of the people I’m involved with holding up their yellow cards

But basically the points made by both groups, when brought back together, was that social care is everyone’s business. We’re all affected. From the mother and toddler club that supports mums to come together with their children to someone in need of support in the home. Government needs to fund social care but allowing local governments to use the funding different, using the resources from communities to enable support and for each of us to give and take from our society in order to live our lives to the full…….

 With the news from Scotland of the potential for a National Care System along the same lines as the NHS, maybe this would make social care everyone’s concern just as the NHS is. Maybe this would stop people seeing social care as happening to ‘others’ and not them. But I’d wish they’d call it National Support service…..it’s not always care that people need but support to be able to live the life they want to lead…

Phew! That was heavy and very hard work 🤯 but I find it all so fascinating and worth while…..roll on the next meeting….

 

If I were in a Care Home now……..

I use to like it here, but all the smiley faces have gone’…..a comment from a resident with dementia in a Care Home when everyone started wearing masks…..

Our lives are ebbing away, yet there’s so much risk aversion about visiting.  For those of us living with dementia, our memories are our most treasured possessions and we lose some every day. Imagine if you lost something of special value everyday – that’s the daily reality for those of us living with dementia. I’d give up possessions anytime if I could have some guarantee that my memories would remain intact…

So imagine having been in a Care Home and not having seen those closest to you for the last 6 months…imagine the effect dementia has on your ability to remember those closest to you?

So we’ll deteriorate, though the lack of stimulation given to us directly from loved ones who know us best….. and  so much our lives will disappear without seeing loved ones – what sort of quality of life is that when the quality of our life is already changing?

Is it really person centred care, to allow the confusion of seeing someone via a screen or behind a screen in a garden that doesn’t mean anything to the person with dementia?

Each stage related issue should be treated with individuality. Some may have coped with seeing their loved ones on zoom, outside in the garden, but sooo many others have lost that connection. Shouldn’t families be allowed to make a choice? To assess the risk themselves?

Of course not all care homes have the same rules, yet more inconsistency. Some have said, “They’re keeping their residents safe”, but safe from what? Surely you have to weigh up the risk of Covid striking the home with the risk to the residents of not physically seeing their loved ones in close proximity? Our physical lives may be long but a fragment of our mental lives disappear each day with dementia. Many Care homes appear to be afraid of being the next Care Home to have an outbreak so go into survival mode to save their reputation. But have they really thought of the effect this may have on someone in the later stages of dementia? They may be keeping them alive but you want that life? I know I wouldn’t.

I’m not putting the blame at the door of the Care Homes. With the pressure they’re under they need more consistent informed guidance. As for the carers, I can only imagine the multitude of emotions they’re going through.

Imagine sat there alone….vague recollections, sparks of memories fleeting through the ever fading brain of people visiting who make you smile……now wondering why no one visits, or worse still, forgetting that anyone ever visited…..being taken into a garden with a strange plastic screen and figures at the other side , strange figures, so you look down to avoid seeing these strange figures with strangers faces from afar….

Those closest to them know them best, how to interact, what will work, what won’t. No one with dementia can be sure what memories they’ve lost. Those around us are often our guardians of our memories. After all, how do we know what we’ve lost if we can’t remember them? It’s only when others question or relate memories to us that we question our own thoughts.

In desperation a friend of mine visited her husband who is a couple of years younger than me. It was a garden visit but they had a big perspect screen dividing them. It became so traumatic for them both when the husband started clawing at the screen as he didn’t understand why he couldn’t hold his wife’s hand and be close to her. So tragic, yet easily solved.

The care home staff are allowed to go about their lives, shopping, maybe even going to the pub, but loved ones aren’t allowed to visit without all the barriers. Yes, the care staff have done an amazing job in this period of strangeness but why can’t exceptions be made where physical touch is the only communication that works ? They could have a test and if it comes back negative, why shouldn’t they be able to visit as normal? Choice not barriers. Alternatives, solutions not one size fits all.

One lovely lady I know has stopped visiting as it was too distressing. Her husband simply didn’t understand she was there as they had no physical contact….the only thing that stimulated his memories.

We need touch, we need whatever each individual responds to for connection before that connection is lost. Imagine your loved one dying in a care home and not having been able to see them or hold their hand because ‘of the rules’………

Care Homes were  forgotten by the government at the beginning of all this strangeness and now it seems people with dementia in care homes are still being forgotten…..😢

The Dementia charities are finally working together and one of the first articles they published was around the state of Care Homes at the beginning of this pandemic. But one article won’t bring about change. Outrage at the time, yes, but soon forgotten. It needs continual hammering home that this needs to change. Look at the situation in the beginning and look at it now…..very little has changed for people with dementia in Care Homes…..

Many are simply existing. Would that be the sort of life you would wish for your loved ones? it’s not a life I would want….because it’s simply not a life…

 

My community my future…..

Social Care has to change, no doubt about it. But what has to change? I’m involved with Neil Crowther, helped by my wonderful enabler Philly, in a project that’s trying to change the way people think about Social care. They’re doing some wonderful research through a company that finds out, not only what people think, but why people think as they do. Whether they can be influenced to change their views

I’m at the early stages of involvement, I think 🙄….so I don’t have any answers just thoughts that have come to me whilst in this strange prison I find myself in…albeit a very nice prison, but then I’m lucky…..I’m talking about my village of course….we’re not perfect by any means, but the majority of people ‘care’. I’m not talking about a ‘dementia friendly community’, I’m talking about a ‘people friendly community’, as everyone needs to feel cared for….

 We all want people to care…we want to feel part of something, be it large or small. Where we live and our surroundings can play a huge part in our social well being.

No one situation is right for everyone. Each person has their own preference or sometime their situation gives them little choice of where they live..

I’ve often wondered what this strange time would have been like if I’d have still lived in York? 🤔

As I’ve said many times before, pre dementia I was an extremely private person. Now I’m been overtaken by this gregarious alien, I need to know people are around me who make me  feel safe. Before Covid existed I would be travelling about nearly every day of the week, meeting different people, at events, on the train, meeting, listening and talking to lots of people. But that’s all disappeared. Of course it’s disappeared for many, not just me.

Instead of enjoying the rare quiet days where I had me and silence for company, those silent days far outnumber the days when I talk to anyone, creating a strange loneliness …one like I’ve never felt before.

I know I have many zooms I could join, but I need to feel peoples presence. Zoom has been a life saver for so many playmates, and want the zoom way to continue long after Covid for very valid reasons, for those who find travelling difficult or simply don’t like travelling…….but for me, I adore travelling and the contriveness ( I know that word doesn’t sound right but I can’t think of the right word)……a set time to ‘have a conversation’…..instead of the randomness of a few minutes chat in the street and then a goodbye. Just being around people is sometimes enough for me; hearing other voices. Unfortunately for me, yet fortunately for so many others, the Zoom world will be with us for a very long time and that makes me sad…I know I’ll have to overcome those feelings or I’ll miss out on so much, but I also know it would never be my first choice.

Loneliness  is a social care issue. So how have I coped with that? By feeling embraced by my village community……..yesterdays blog was the perfect example…when the professionals let us down, sometimes through no fault of their own, we have to help one another.

Having said that, I’m not giving the government the nod to relinquish all responsibility. The medical world has let me and many others down badly during this Covid time. Of course they’ve been working their socks off against Covid and lack of resources has meant every other condition has sadly been neglected in many cases. So I want people to realise that Social Care doesn’t exist purely for the vulnerable but everyone is affected.

Just a simple example here….as well as my village Facebook page, I also post on the Beverley Facebook page, nt very often but occasionally. The other week, I rediscovered a lovely flower shop which had moved to bigger premises. I took some photos while I was there and then posted them on both Facebook pages…..I simply said how wonderful it was, said how we should support local businesses and then gave the name of the street…..but instead of Lord Roberts Road, I put Lord Mayors Walk…….🙈…..for me, I used to love running along the latter when I lived in York and it must have stuck in my head.

The villagers didn’t comment, they knew where I meant, what did it matter? But I got a barage of insults on the Beverley Facebook page, some really nasty comments.

“Who in their right mind would put a post with the wrong address”

“We don’t have a Mayor so how can we have a Lord Mayors Walk”

And after explaining I used to live in York…“Go back to York if you’re gonna get it wrong”

What makes people make nasty comments? Is it the anonymity of social media? It made me very sad. It brought my mood immediately down. Maybe they don’t think of the effect words can have on people. The downside of social media, where it seems to be a free for all. They certainly don’t think how THEY may have affected someone’s mental health and mental health is certainly a Social Care issue, making social care everyone’s issue.

So maybe the title of this blog should have been “Our Community, Our Future”..…but maybe that will create it’s own post code lottery of occurrence as there will always be those who don’t see it as a shared responsibility…..🤔….but then a ‘Community’ comes in many guises – where you live is only one of them. Communities on line, Peer support and many others..as I said at the beginning, just my initial thoughts….

So I’m looking forward to seeing this ‘Social Care Future’ project developing. As a poster they put on Twitter said:

I know I do….how about you….?

 

Another Conversation, another revelation……

I’d often said hello to the farmer who passes my house each day going for his daily papers…and I’ve taken loads of piccies of his amazing display of poppies and sunflowers this year…

But his kitchen garden is on a bend with no footpath, so I always take my life in my own hands taking those photos..😂…well there I was again last Friday taking a piccie of the beautiful simple poppy heads

…..when all of a sudden he appeared in his garden waving at me…I clambered onto the grass verge, escaping the odd passing car and we chatted. I told him how much I loved his garden, especially the poppies. We chatted of our love of growing things, anything, and he spoke in his lyrical farmers voice of how growing can stop people getting stressed at a time, especially now, when all the activities in the village have ceased. He went on, that the best thing to come out of this odd time has been the thriving village allotment, which was such a coincidence as that’s where I was heading to track it down. The hedge man the previous day had introduced me to the village allotment as he loved his plot, but amazingly I’d never heard or seen it before…

The farmer said how people just met in the allotment, chatted, shared tips, shared products, shared tools and it took away a thousand worries and stresses, especially during this hard time, nature’s own remedy for depression ….he told me exactly where it was hidden, but before I left, he said,

Would you like some of the poppy heads”…….he told me what to do with them, when to do it and those 3 poppy heads would contain hundreds of seeds…..I left with a huge thankful smile on my face

A couple of hundreds yards further down and there was the lane, well more of a track, just where he said it would be. I trundle down it and came to an opening and there it was, hidden away, another world, a beautiful small world.

It was very quiet. No one in their plots this early in the morning, which allowed me to leisurely survey everything before me, only the birds, helping themselves to some produce, as company.

There was a path all the way round, with peoples names on some plots, little signs on others

A variety of flowers and produce that was so wonderful to see, so lovingly grown and nurtured…wheelbarrows, spades and garden chairs abandoned til their next visit. The feeling of trust around here emanated from every plot.

The path went round in a square and as I turned the corner I disturbed another looking for fresh picking probably

The farmer was right, even though it was empty of people today, the whole allotment felt as though it was wrapped in a bubble of calmness. Through a simple conversation I’ve discovered another trundle and one which I think I’ll be visiting daily……

We can’t all be good at growing things, but we can all love trying…… 

P.S. after posting my daily trundle photos as usual on the village web site, it turns out the gate should have been locked as they’ve had so much damage and people stealing things. Someone must have been hiding in their shed or greenhouse.  But they’ve invited me to come anytime and simply be there with them, to share their bubble of calm.  Why are there always a few people who spoil it for so many….😔..

P.P.S I went the following day and because it was the weekend there was lots of beavering but still it was silent and peaceful and everyone was so friendly. I stood with 3 people who were sat on their waiting chairs, having a welcome break and they told me so many stories, good and bad. One had had an allottment there for 38 years 😳❤️…..and during lockdown, it had become they’re Sanctuary when times had got them down…..their ‘bubble of safety’. I was so pleased to have found this….

I could have come away with a whole allotment of veg, such was their generosity, but I didn’t want it wasted. I said I could no longer cook and why…..more seeds of my own sown…so I came away with some runner beans to give to Stuart and a little posy of marigolds for me ❤️❤️❤️

A Conversation on the Village bench……

During this lockdown, the nicest thing to come out of it is that I’ve met so many villagers I’d never met before…I feel like I’m part of the community now, although I’ll never be counted as a villager as you have to have been here for at least 50 years 😂…..

I’ve met many interesting folk while I’ve been out and about with my camera. After all, it was my daily piccies that first introduced me to many via the village Facebook page. But many I now meet many on a regular basis and one of them is an elderly gent, who truly is counted as a villagers. I call him Peter the Duck man.

We both have a love of feeding the village ducks in the morning and often arrive at the same time, so can chat…..

One morning I’d come through the cow field and round the back of the pond. I could hear Peter chatting to the ducks, and them noisily replying…I stood for a while taking piccies, so as not to disturb him, but then he saw me….

“Morning Wendy” he shouted and waved across the pond…..

I trundled round, through the gate and joined him on the outside path. We have 2 domesticated ducks, that were abandoned on the pond a while back, and they always fly and sit on the fence wanting their own rations. On previous occasions we’d soon realised they pecked really hard when eating out of your hand, but Peter had now come well prepared today donned in gardening gloves….

He wanted me to take that picture, as he’d taken many in years gone by, but on film, not the clever digital we have today…..we chatted happily for a few minutes and he told me how the Drakes were getting their colour back and would look wonderful soon……that was my learning for today as I didn’t know they lost their colour, but Peter is a mind of information when it comes to the village pond

Once he’d finished, he left me to see who was still hungry, but I could see him stopping and settling down for a sit in the shelter at the end of the pond….

I took a few piccies,

….then ambled up to join him to learn more…..

Him at one end of the bench, me at the other, we settled down for a chat……

He’s been feeding the ducks everyday for many decades so there was nothing he didn’t know. He started off by telling me about the time the village had their own Swans…..

Apparently the same mum and dad came back every year to have their young, they were the village swans. But one year, sadly, the chicks, when learning to fly, got caught up in the telephone wires across the High Street. It was decided they needed to find them a new home.  Peter, along with other villagers, collected crates from the RSPCA and one weekend, collected them all to rehouse them in a Wetland Conservation area a few miles away.

All were collected safely and gently, Peter’s job being to round them all up, as they knew him, and took them to their nice bigger home where they were released.

Little did they realise but the swans had other ideas about the place to hatch their young and they returned the following year, but before the young could fly into harms way, they collected them all again and took them back to their new home…

The following year, the Mum and Dad, misjudged their flight a tad and landed in the village a couple of miles away to lay their eggs, but the residents took umbridge at the mess they made and insisted they were removed. This time, Peter wasn’t on hand to make sure it was done properly and only the mother was caught.

A couple of months later, Peter went down to feed the ducks as usual, and imagine his surprise when there was dad and the young chick, now able to fly. The dad had waited patiently until the chick could fly and then found his way back to our pond where he knew they’d be welcome and looked after.

WARNING!! Sad bit…….he later found out that the mum had died and everyone knows that Swans mate for life, so once dad and youngster flew off, the village never had swans appear again…….the dad died soon after, obviously from a broken heart…

I sat there deflated by the ending I’d just heard, but Peter reminded me of the moral of the tale….that Swans know who to trust and who not to trust. They’re loyal to each other and added at the end….”It’s a shame more humans don’t have the same characteristics…….”

As we both sat there in our own thoughts, he suddenly turned around and pointed at the picture, the image you can see on the left above. Someone had found this old map of our Village in a junk shop and paid £5 for it. He’d given it to Peter and Peter gave it to the village to remind them of days gone by and here it had hung ever since.

 Peter used to take hundreds of piccies just like me, expect his were on film. He told me there’s a display of them in the Village Hall called, “Our Village, Our Pond”. It’s closed at the mo due to Covid, but as soon as it reopens I’ll be the first in there and take my own piccies of his display…….Photos speak a thousand words……

With that, we both went our different ways home. Me thinks it’s so important to hear and record the stories from past times. To show what life and adventures previous generations had, otherwise they’ll be lost forever…….

 

 

One Village, 3 pubs……..

Who would have thought one small village could accommodate 3 pubs….especially nowadays when pubs are closing down….but my village has 3, all close to one another, almost in a row. But they all have different characters, serve different needs……

During lock down, they all obviously had to close and this was a huge worry for the village as they are the community hub for many people, but Covid 19 failed to take things like that into account ….it was a worry whether they’d all be able to survive the lockdown. It would leave a big gaping hole in many peoples lives if they remained closed. It was strange seeing their doors permanently locked and silence around them as I trundled passed…I wonder how many more will have faded away because of this strange time we find ourselves in?

However July 4th arrived and they all duly opened again albeit at reduced times and days, but they’d survived that part of the crisis…I remember the extra sound around my garden as I’m very close to 2 of them and each have their own extra outside space now. The first day, you could hear all the revellers glad to be back at their local…..and at first, I wondered where the noise was coming from..

On the bottom of my street is the Dog and Duck

A friendly no nonsense pub, serving pub grub inside and out and from the looks of the windows recently, a new granddaughter has arrived, with balloons and banners celebrating the new arrival…the owners have been beavering away during lockdown, repainting, revamping, in the hope that regulars would return….and they seem to have come back with their extra outside space as well as all the tables inside….

Between the Dog and Duck and Ferguson Fawcitt Arms, lies the bus shelter. I may not be a regular frequenter of the pubs but I’m certainly a regular at the bus stop…😂…

The Fergie, as locals know it, has more speciality food and also owns the Lodge alongside where people can stay. That’s where my friends stay when they visit. It’s also where my ‘office’ is located…..Eliza’s coffee shop is also part of the pub, but sadly I’m not sure it’s reopened yet…but it’s often where I met people who wanted to come and discuss a plan or interview me as it has lovely comfy settees and chairs…During lockdown they provided take away meals with free delivery for village residents and I made use of their culinary delights on several occasions.

A little way down and we have our village shop – a saviour for all of us during lockdown and beyond……and then a few doors down is the final pub, The Barrel…

This is a small pub where people (mainly men) and faithful canines dogs. A very friendly drinking hole, so small that people often spill onto the street and has benches that sit either side of the small entrance…One bench is dedicated to “Uncle Pete Jackson” and the other one in particular always makes me smile…..the plaque reads…..

“Enjoy your pint as Sky did”

Both must mean something very special to someone…..

I’m not a pub person, don’t think I ever have been, never had one I call my local anyway…havn’t drunk alcohol for years….but then I lived my first tiny years in a pub and can still smell the beer smell and cigarettes……I went back to visit it not long ago, just to see if it was still there in Knottingley and it was, just the surroundings looking different……but I could hear the ghosts of the skiffle bands that used to play in the basement and a mini me sweeping the floor looking for coins left by the customers….

 So pubs might not be to everyone’s taste, but our village thrives on them. They’re the heart of a community, a meeting place, a destination, a place to eat…..each has it’s own history, it’s own stories to tell. Our 4 basics of 3 pubs, 1 village shop and beautiful walks bring people from all over. It never ceases to amaze me, that I’ll be speaking somewhere miles away , someone will ask me where I live, and they’ll say…
“Oooo yes, we went to the pub there”……..😳

I’m very lucky to live where I do……

 

Every Community needs volunteers…..

I think communities have come into their own during Covid. It’s been the one shining light, the one positive. It’s also shown the importance of good communities.  Shown people, who might not before have thought about it, how those around them might just need a little support. More people have smiled and said hello than ever before. They’ve seen that they need a smile so maybe others need one too.

We’ve all had TIME to get to know our community. It maybe your neighbour, your street, your village, your town, your city or simply a few people you didn’t know before.

I think I’ve said before that I didn’t know my village Facebook page existed before Covid. I probably didn’t need to, others in the village didn’t either. But this small piece of social media has brought our community together. It was always been a good place to live anyway, but suddenly people have been forced into stopping their chaotic lives and simply looking around them. I know so many more people now in my village than 3 months ago.

People stop and chat who never used to. Many have realised it does them good as well as other people. Someone made a load of masks and put them outside for anyone to take for free. Goods, services have been exchanged for free simply because we could.

People have been concerned about people, asking if they’re ok, do they need anything.

Tragedy alert 🙈🙈🙈🙈🙈

I witnessed something I found very sad and traumatic at the village pond on Wednesday…I’d finished snapping my piccies, when I saw mother duck frantically quacking and rushing round. I reached the scene and there was one of her ducklings trapped in some meshing, meshing so small, put around the island to stop it from eroding, yet somehow, and I havn’t a clue how, the duckling managed to get inside and then couldn’t get out.

I willed the mum to peck at the mesh or stretch it somehow to free her little one and she sooo tried….I couldn’t get to her but knew my village facebook page would come to the rescue, so wobbled home as fast as my legs would carry me. Within minutes of posting a piccie of the predicament the village jungle drums went into action, messages flying across the inter web  and a couple of minutes later someone asked me to go back to the site as one of the pond men were making their way there.

I trundled back down to the pond as fast as my wobble could manage and ahead of me I could see a man decked in wellies looking for the victim. As I reached him, the scene was silent.  I zoomed into the island but nothing was moving…..Sadly in the few minutes it had taken us to gather help, mum had pecked so hard that the little one had died. 😢

We both just stood there. He told me the stories of many successful rescues but sadly not this one, sometimes nature is mistakenly cruel. He promised he’d get volunteers together at the weekend and see what could be changed or replaced.

Our village has volunteers for every aspect of life. A village can’t survive without them. Ponds can’t look after themselves, they need a little help sometimes and that’s why we have a pond group of volunteers. I’m so thankful to them all for simply caring and for villagers caring about one of our smallest residents enough to help…

The playing fields, the community gardens, the village hall, the Christmas lights, all need volunteers. Sometimes, people in their haste of life forget that they don’t magically look after themselves, people give up their time to make them happen.

But what I hope Covid has taught people is that communities are for life not just for Covid…Volunteers are needed to keep communities going all year round. And volunteers needn’t be a formal title, just offering to help is volunteering, just as people have offered to help me and I’ve offered to help others in the world we found ourselves in. After all, at the beginning of all this, some people simply knew me as the ‘camera lady’, it was only after getting to know me that they realised I had dementia and offered me more help, more kindness. You don’t have to know someone’s history to realise they might need a little helping hand or a simple chat.

The community you have is the community residents create………let’s hope that’s something many more have learnt….

 

Saturday Sunshine…..

Last Saturday felt like the first day in weeks that it hadn’t rained….I really havn’t a clue whether it was days or weeks, time losing it’s concept at the mo….nothing to focus my mind on time, but it had felt like ages…..

The day before Sarah had come and we’d gone for our first trundle together, just to the pond and back, but boy did we get drenched……It wasn’t heavy rain, it was the steady persistent stuff that soaks you….

But….we had such a lovely walk. The pond looked beautiful….the rain didn’t matter…

 

Even the ducks looked hacked off by it, especially since I’d forgotten their food….🙄

The following day, Saturday, dawned to mist and cloud but by lunchtime the sun was shining and suddenly the village came alive again, as though it had been asleep through the rain…..

Still only allowed to trundle through the village, I ambled to the pond again…even Terence and Teresa Terrapin had made an appearance, first time in ages!

Alongside the pond shelter, on the ground Is a monument to an Olympic long jumper Sue Hearnshaw.

I looked up why such a strange event was marked in the village only to find she went to the local High School..the length of the jump, start to finish, is marked out on the flagstones…..a random, but pleasant acknowledgement to a local girl…gone off piste..🙄

A family with a tiny tot stood waiting by the pond shelter…and a car pulled up with what must have been grandma and grandad aboard, meeting quite obviously for the first time since lockdown. The excitement on grandmas face, the uncertainty on the child’s was striking…..Grandma so wanted the child to run up and hug her, but the confusion made the child cling to her mothers hand, not quite knowing what she was allowed to do….luckily Grandma took it gently and as I trundled away I could hear the child chatting happily….

All the rain of late had made the villagers go into hibernation. I don’t think we’d realised how important the weather has been to get us through the lockdown. My trundles had often been a lonely affair, my camera hidden beneath my coat, sometimes not seeing a sole as I ambled through drenched village streets and lanes….

But not on Saturday, not when the sun had shone and everyone looked happy again….

Laughter, children playing outside once more, squeals of delight echoing through the gardens. Chatterings of passers by, smiley faces once more. The rain was much needed for the gardens and the farmers, but the sunshine was needed for the humans too and what a difference it made…….

Why….? ……Poem

Why has it taken this strange new virus
To make us look at the world
With different eyes and different views
To look closely at nature unfurl?

Why have we suddenly noticed
The damage we did before
And suddenly appreciate the tiny things
The beauty around, just a little bit more?

Why has it taken this lockdown
To suddenly see what means most
To suddenly see the simple things
To see them right up close?

It’s not what we appreciate now
But what we appreciate after that matters most
Will we behave differently
Will we still see nature up close?

Let’s hope our appreciation of the world and our fellow human beings is much kinder, much more thoughtful than we were before all this came along. Then all these deaths, all this heartache won’t have been for nothing…..

Will we respect then what we learnt to respect now?

The strangeness of crowds of people……

On Sunday I had a text from my daughter Gemma asking if I wanted to go for a drive the short distance to the Westwood. I’ve been part of their household too during this lockdown. They invited me to move in with them at the beginning but I knew that wouldn’t work. I needed to be in my own familiar surroundings, much as I love them. However, I also need to have a good meal once a week, to make up for the ‘interesting’ diet I can provide for myself…..🙄…so that’s why we counted me in their household as well – to make sure Stuart fed me every now and then…😂🤣

Off piste again…🙄…so Sunday, they decided to take me to the Westwood. Somewhere I love any time of year but especially when the fields are full of buttercups and the town cows are outside grazing…but it’s a tad too far for me to walk there and back. I can manage to get there, but always struggle with the return leg…….so a trip in the car was the perfect solution, just down the road, so not too far.

But how strange it was to be in a car……how strange it was to travel through my invisible boundary of the village and imagine our surprise when we saw how many other people had had the same idea 😳. Cars parked bumper to bumper across the Westwood roads. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen sooooo many cars there ever! But the Westwood is so vast that the numbers on the grass didn’t seem to match the number of cars….thankfully! I even made it look quiet in my piccies, as obviously, I don’t like to include people when they’re unaware….

It’s so lovely how paths are mowed cross crossing the Westwood, especially this time of year.

Paths through the buttercups so not all are randomly trodden on. Still can’t wear my walking boots as they rub on my still tender ankle bone and bruised heal, but found my garden crocs are wonderful substitutes….

I kept stopping to take piccies and just loved simply seeing and being with people. Hearing children laughing again, the sound of families laughing and chattering as we passed them by, little games of family cricket happening randomly in corners of the fields and picnics amidst the buttercups. But it was also strangely quite stressful seeing all these people. Suddenly it didn’t feel natural. I kept just stopping and looking as though I hadn’t seen a group of people before.

I was more used to 2, maybe three people passing by in the village. But most people followed the rules, waiting for people to pass, keeping their distance and being polite and friendly in the process. What on earth will it feel like when we’re allowed to mix closely in numbers….that might take some courage the first time….

The cows hadn’t been informed of the 2 metre rule however….😂

But oh, did the Westwood look beautiful close up instead of zooming in with my camera from afar……

Finally allowing people outside the house, children to run about once more and enjoy the open space

It was the most glorious trundle. Buttercups and cows, what could be better