In the beginning
At 6.15am each morning, I walked through the local park to catch the overland train to work at Old Street. I started doing this five months ago and little did I realise that I would continue to do it at the end of August and into September. At the end of March, I believed it would be at most, for three months.  

Looking back then, each day was different but there was a recurrent theme running through just about everything in relation to the Centre – Uncertainty! What is happening? How long is this going to last? What will happen to our service-users? What about our staff? Who will be able to come to work today? What services will we be able to provide? What support will we get? And there was the ‘lesser’ uncertainties – where is the key to the gate to let the minibus out? What is the code to the store where the ‘take out’ containers are kept? 

Five months on and there are still uncertainties but there is a whole new attitude and way of thinking which has replaced the anxieties. It is one of gratitude to so many people and organisations.  The people who have made a difference are our service users, volunteers and staff. These are the ‘drivers’ behind the services we have been able to offer.     

People like the legion of volunteers who jumped to our aid when we were looking for help, particularly at short notice. There were our service users who would come in to bring food and provisions to other service users. People who would help out at the food distribution hub, deliver meals to those who could not leave home, ring those who were isolated. People like our neighbours who turned up on our doorstep with donations of nappies, toothpaste and food.  

Coming back
Looking forward again, it is with healthy anticipation and hope. This is evidenced by the return to the Centre of so many of our service users who come in for lunch, stay for Bingo and Hoy, use our café and on-line centre and make their way home again. Whilst at the Centre, they have been rigorous in following social distancing rules and supporting each other. 

Welcoming families back to the Centre
One of the greatest events last week was a family art workshop over three afternoons when 21 families gathered at the Centre in family bubbles. It was delightful to see the participation and joy of the children as they were coached in design and art work. I must admit that there was even more joy on the faces of the parents who took part. This event was evidence that people are coming back, taking part in activities, enjoying themselves and, at the same time, keeping themselves, their families and everyone else in the space, safe and healthy.  

This is an example of one of the activities which will continue at the Centre in the coming weeks and months. Please check out our website and social media for the latest information.

The uncertainty of the March/April time has been replaced with a sort of magic!!! It is the magic of the wonderful response of human nature to a very difficult situation. It is heartening to see how people come together in support, mutual assistance and empathy for each other.  

As we start into another new month, our anticipation is high and our Centre continues to respond to the community whilst the community continues to respond and to support the Centre. A great lesson in caring more for one another in the community, but we have to remember there may be more need of that in the future than during these past few months.