I know that I am one who prefers to be left alone. Rembering when I was a child, which wasn’t that long ago, where I used to feel at slight unease with knowing most people who lived along my drive, and that the lady who always delivered the “bridge” or community magazine seemingly somehow managed to know me and my parents, as well as I expect everyone living on our road. Yet, balancing this out, I also miss the strong sense of community which existed back then. Especially during times like these.
Taking the clock back to the run up to the 2012 Olympic games, I remember that seemingly the whole community had gathered, in order to perch down on one a spot of pavement, in order to catch a glimpse of the Olympic torch and to possibly be handed a bottle of CocoCola. That year, also happened to host the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, where children, teachers and parents congregated on the school playing field one lunchtime. I remember one lady distributing Union Jack bucket hats to lots of us, at no cost, while us kids would guzzle down whatever food we could find. And I’m sure that you remember the street parties that occurred after the royal wedding, yet again bringing the community together again.
Yet if you live in a very urbanised area, such as in the middle of a town or towards a city, it’s most likely that most off the time this strong sense of community is lacking. Living in a block of flats now, within very easy walking distance of the town centre home to an area of over half a million people, I only actually know the name of ONE of my neighbours. As there isn’t really the time usually to talk to one another. As everyone is just so preoccupied with their own private lives; being work, studying, going out…or whatever. However recently we have seen communities beginning to rebond, having no choice but to work together. And perhaps it is during these times where everyone local is “in it together”, being good or bad. But the shared experience unites us…
So I’m sure that if where you live is not underneath some colossal rock, that squishes your head flat, then you will be aware of the “clap for carers” movement. Across the country, people of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs have come together from the comfort of their homes in order to acknowledge and show appreciation for the wonderful efforts of doctors, nurses and all other crucial NHS staff. Consequently this has led to neighbouring households along the street assembled together to celebrate the immense efforts and achievements of these wonderful staff together. A rare sighting in modern England, where many people wouldn’t even find it appropriate to say “good morning” to fellowing neighbours, let alone stand united with them all, to celebrate something that really they have all been indirectly effected by, whether it being now or at some other point in their lives. Whilst despite the lacking opportunity of getting out of the building, for those of us who live in flats, we have still managed to muscle through this. Instead opening our windows and cheering from outside, although encapsulated in our own flats, we are still uniting.
And if you think this is an achievement, it’s nothing compared to what some communities living in blocks of flats have achieved. In Spain and Amsterdam there have been videos of balcony raves, one even being conducted by a DJ. While we have seen balcony sing-alongs of various hits like “We rill rock you” and even two neighbouring flats playing tennis.
Furthermore, there has been an impressive number of people putting themselves forward to help those more vulnerable people, with shopping, dog walking or even a chat. Not to mention the over 500,000 people who signed themselves up within 24 hours to support the NHS (source, Guardian). It just shows, in spite off our differences and vast cravings and obviously our usual ability to reach out much further afield, when hard times hit us, we are more than capable of pulling together once again as a community. Whether this be within our neighbourhoods, our communities or online. That really, wherever we live, there is still this strong sense of attachment to our community even though we sometimes lose sight of it. But overall, it shows everyone’s willingness to go the extra mile, or further in many cases, to help those most in need.
However some of us may find some of the occurances abroad a little strage still. Especially in those coountries which have enforced stricter, and so far longer periods of lockdown compared to what we have experienced in the UK. Would everyone really want to begin singing from our balconies, or windows. I personally cannot see it down where I live, without at least one of our neighbours knocking on the host’s door complaining that their children and themselves need to sleep. Perhaps it is better to stick to hosting a street tea gathering, like in a street in Wales. I think as well that it would have been more difficult for us to have coped and united as a community now, without the internet. As it is no longer natural for people to communicate by chatting; or shouting across the balcony. With the fear that people would automatically show hostility. Nevertheless we have seen that the clap for carers notion was cheered on by many supporters and rold models online, enabling communities to genuinely be able to gather and applaud. I reckon that realistically, once things return to normal, communities will move back to their original less socialable model.. However I feel there will still be a strong sense at times where it is needed. Where events occur in which unite us. Whilst hopefully too, left behind there will be a slightly stronger transparent connection, whilst there will be stronger consideration for one another.