The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had a significant impact upon our physical and mental health and wellbeing, our employment, our communities, our economy, and our futures.
Since March 2020 we’ve had to adhere to strict pandemic lockdown rules in the hope that we could collectively ease the strain on our NHS, keep each other free from harm, and hopefully return to something resembling the ‘normal’ that we once took for granted. Only 12 short months ago, we were blissfully unaware of what was to come, and assumed the pandemic would be over and forgotten about in a matter of months. Fast forward to 2021 and phrases such as ‘lockdown’, ‘pandemic’, ‘social distancing’, isolating’, ‘furlough’ and ‘vaccinations’ have become a prominent and necessary part of our vocabulary.
The Cii, like most organisations across Wales, has been negatively affected by the pandemic, with the impact directly resulting in loss of projects, some redundancies, reduced funding, and a more uncertain future. With minimal guidance, we had to adapt to the new economic climate, introducing the changes required to allow us to continue our social mission of supporting our communities to flourish and prosper.
With such a focus on the negative effects and impact of the pandemic, and rightly so, has there been any positives? Firstly, in an odd kind of way, the pandemic has brought the Cii’s staff closer together. Pre-pandemic we would conduct team meetings face-to-face, like the rest of the world, spacing these out and fitting them in around workloads, commitments, and time pressures. Often these would get pushed around and postponed due to one thing or another. With the emergence of the pandemic has come the emergence of our use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Meetings have become more frequent, with meetings earlier in the pandemic consisting of work and the customary quiz! We now check-in more regularly, with even the less tech-savvy of our staff mastering the use of these online virtual meeting tools.
Less face-to-face meetings has also resulted in less travel. Pre-COVID, working days were regularly interjected with travelling to and from various meetings and appointments. With the need to stay at home, our travel time diminished to nearly nothing. This has freed up time to focus on work priorities, whilst also having a positive impact on our environmental impact and carbon footprint.
Lastly, the pandemic resulted in the need for social distancing, which was difficult, as our projects support people to improve their health and wellbeing and learn skills in an active learning environment. Pre-COVID these settings would be busy places, with dozens of participants getting stuck in and learning new skills together. Attendance was also flexible to accommodate other learning commitments, the school run, or anything else that needed attention. The pandemic brought a need for greater structure, responsibility for ourselves and others, and the need to reduce learning numbers to safe levels. We assumed this would cause problems, with the flexibility of our provision being a real positive for participants. However, our fears were quickly eased; our participants responded positively to the changes, flourishing with their new responsibility to attendance, hygiene, and empathy of others. In this case, the pandemic enforced some changes on our way of thinking and working, however, the positive response to these changes has resulted in an improved learning environment, with better engaged project participants.
So, in summary, the past 12 months have been difficult for us all, but with light slowly appearing at the end of the tunnel, we can begin to look back and reflect in a positive manner on the challenges that continue to shape and guide us.
In the famous words of Rocky Balboa “It ain’t about how hard you get hit, it’s about how hard you can get and keep moving forward.”
If you would like further information in relation to our community work or would like to know about the opportunities available, please get in touch through our Contact Page or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.