It’s good to talk

Six weeks ago today, the government placed the UK on lockdown and introduced drastic new measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

We were asked to leave our homes only if absolutely necessary. All schools, gyms, leisure centres, theatres, cinemas and non-essential shops closed. Sports events stopped and gatherings of people not from the same household were also prohibited.  

We were also told to keep two metres away from people we don’t live with when we had to leave our homes; so when getting essentials such as food or taking our permitted daily exercise.

These ‘social distancing’ practices are still in place today and without a doubt they have helped prevent further spread of Covid-19 and saved lives. 

Thank you to everyone who has stayed home, who has kept their distance and who has looked out for their neighbours and communities. 

Physical distancing

When the term was introduced, I didn’t question the use of the wording social distancing, I just wanted to understand and share what it meant.

But as the weeks have gone by and our social connections are more important than ever, I fully support the World Health Organisation’s preference for us to stop calling the measures ‘social distancing’ and instead, use ‘physical distancing’.

Social distancing implies a sense of disconnection from loved ones. At a time when being physically isolated from others will most likely be seriously affecting many of us, it’s important that we remember and act on how important it is for us to stay socially connected.

Social contact is vital for good mental health. Face to face interactions can boost happiness and reduce pain and stress.

Whether it be those quick chats with a checkout person at the supermarket; or those long and meaningful chats on the sofa with loved ones. Most social interaction makes us feel good.

Lockdown doesn’t mean this all has to stop while we live within the guidelines.

That’s why I prefer to think of the new rules we’re living by as physical distancing rather than social distancing.

I’ve seen how people are adapting the way they interact. BBC South East ran a story last week on a whole street coming out of their homes at an agreed time every day for a cuppa and a chat, all sat or standing over two metres away from one another. It was uplifting to see even if it was only on TV!

Technology

I live in a flat with a little communal front garden so I’m a stickler for getting out and taking my daily exercise.

I never arrange to meet up with people for a get together, but I do find myself exchanging a few passing pleasantries with others on the streets, again all at a safe distance.

Those little snippets of conversations brighten my day and give me something to think about.  Increasingly I’m seeing the same faces and a familiarity is building which is also comforting.

I’ve also become a huge fan of technology and video calling, although I can’t wait to see my colleagues, friends and family in person once again. I’ve downloaded Skype and Zoom. I’m also taking part in online council meetings and social catch ups in the evenings.

It’s ironic that a few months ago we were all being told to limit our screen time and now we’re dependent on it.

Support available

There are plenty of people for whom this time is particularly hard, people who live alone and those who don’t have access to wi-fi or a computer.  There is support available for you and it’s important that you know how you can access it. 

An information postcard from the council is being distributed from today to all households in the city and is also going to be at key distribution points across the city.

It lists lots of support that’s available with phone numbers because we know not everyone is online. 

If you don’t have anyone close by to help, the council’s Community Advice and Support Hub can support you.

If you can’t get online to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/coronavirus-help, call 01273 293117 between 10am to 4.30pm Monday through to Friday and you’ll be able to talk with someone who can help you.

So, please everyone, do keep talking. Safely.

Councillor Nancy Platts
Leader of the council

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