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How we are finding new ways to connect whilst apart

Posted on Thu 9th Apr, 2020 in: Advice, Digital, Insight, Office Life, Social Media by Lucy Bristow

The past few weeks have been testing, to say the least. In what felt like a matter of minutes, we were taken away from our offices, our daily routines, our friends and our social activities and told to stay at home for the foreseeable future. We underwent this all while managing our own personal anxieties around the current situation, something which I have been personally fighting a tough battle with.

In a recent Guardian article, Emine Saner made the point that, as humans, we are not wired to tolerate uncertainty and instead seek stability, looking for assurances that “the way our world looks when we get up in the morning is the way it will look when we go to bed. And if change occurs, we prefer it to be on our terms.”

Coronavirus threw an enormous spanner in the works for human kind’s pursuit of stability, and it looks unattainable in the short-term, as no one knows what is next. We can only take it one day at a time. I’m sure many people across the UK, and the world, are feeling a similar sense of underlying anxiety because of this.

That said, there has been lots of support and great initiatives aimed at helping those battling coronavirus anxieties, with everything from mindfulness to baking on offer to ease society’s tension. Another positive which has come out of our current situation is an increase in the sense of community and the value of communication, this is something I wanted to take a moment to talk about.

The article I referenced earlier concluded on a rather poignant note. Daniel Freeman, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford, remarked: “We need to think about new ways to connect with and support our friends, family and neighbours. In these times, our relationships with others become even more important.” And I couldn’t agree more.

My immediate community is with my colleagues, as a tight-knit team of seven people who I am used to seeing five days a week, working permanently from home was a strange adjustment for me. I miss the random office chatter that takes place throughout the day, going to the pub on a Friday night or popping out for lunch at Kirkgate Market. However, we have adapted, and we catch up every morning at 9:30am for about half an hour and have been exploring online pub quizzes and scavenger hunts on Fridays. During those calls, we have an opportunity to resume a small sense of normality and have a laugh.  

Remaining connected with your colleagues is a vital aspect of working through this unusual time, but we are also shifting and adapting to how we keep in touch with every aspect of life. Facetiming your friends, doing pub quizzes over Zoom, seeing your gym community completing home workouts on Instagram, are all small things that bring us together.

I’ve really enjoyed the creativity people have shown to keep up community spirit these past few weeks, for instance Joe Wickes’ PE classes in the morning and the Northern Monk’s virtual pub quiz, which maxed out the number of attendees. 

Moments like these provide relief from anxiety for many people. We are reminded of the great and supportive community around us, and that we are all working through this together.

With this in mind, here are some of Aberfield’s favourite examples of people empowering communities over the past couple of weeks:

  • Clap for Carers: an obvious choice, but one which can’t go without recognition. Hearing the night erupt with applause and cheering every Thursday is one of the most unifying experiences in recent times, it reminds us not only of the great work all of the UK’s key workers are undertaking but that we are all in this together.


  • Window rainbows: When I first saw these dotted around my village, I thought it was just a fun creative project for the local kids, but I recently discovered that it’s something kids are doing across the world. The idea is that children are able to spread hope to each other with the simple message that after every storm comes a rainbow.

A lovely rainbow from Eli Briggs

  • Walter the cat: With regular face-to-face communication no longer an option, we love this story of neighbours in Leeds who are using posters in their windows to talk to one another about the black and white cat that lives across the road.

The sign that started it all


The reason we chose these stories is twofold. Firstly, they show how creative humans can be as a collective when we find ourselves in a crisis, as, despite the odds, we find ways to bring pockets of joy to those around us with simple gestures. Secondly, they show how valuable communication and community spirit is in times like these and the massive positive impact they have on people. We can’t physically interact with the people around us, which is hard to adjust to, however small acts like these remind us that we aren’t alone.

Call your friends, call your family, remind yourself that you are not alone, and together we’re going to make it through this.

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