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  • Writer's pictureEmma Pereira

Hope Waves in the New Normal

Watching the daily updates on Covid-19, it can be easy to fall into the web of hopelessness. We’re told about the desperately tragic loss of life, the increase of infections and sometimes it may seem like Governments we rely on are scrambling to react to this invisible enemy. Where are the tests? Are they reliable? Do we have enough PPE, ventilators and ICU beds? How can we track this thing? Where is the end point?

So in the midst of the uncertainty, I got to thinking about hope.

Years ago, when I worked in the Schizophrenia department, part of my role was to help implement the Recovery Model. This model was used to support clients using a holistic approach to mental health care. The Recovery Model has evolved since then but at the time we advocated four main principles to support client wellbeing: Empowerment, Managing symptoms, Community Engagement and Hope. Hope was a massive one. Without hope, the rest simply wouldn’t work.

As a newly qualified practitioner, I was amazed at clients’ ability to overcome some of the hardest situations. I’ll never forget a client of mine who re-enrolled for his high school diploma and reconnected with his family nearly 20 years after his initial diagnosis of schizophrenia. He left an imprint on my soul and I still think of him all these years later. He’s a beacon of hope and inspiration for me as he overcame so much to get where he did.

There’s beacons of hope now in this pandemic when we consciously look for them. Recovery is a journey rather than a destination, so what can we learn from this and what elements of hope can we bring with us along the way and carry forward beyond our new normal?

During this pandemic we’re seeing so much innovation - a testament to the human ability to survive and thrive. Companies and small businesses changing track to stay afloat and serve the community. Factories have switched to making ventilators and hand sanitisers. Neighbourhood grocers have begun deliveries to reach vulnerable people. Grassroot community movements have sprung up to ensure the vulnerable have help at hand. Supermarkets have adapted to ensure everyone has access to what we need and the NHS carers are cared for. Parents have become the teachers and teachers have adapted their schools to care for key worker and vulnerable children. And guess what? We’re making it work - you’re making it work! How incredible in such a small amount of time, look at how we’ve been able to adapt together! Whatever comes our way, I have immense hope in the human spirit to adapt and thrive.

I’m also hearing parents say that their teenagers are talking to them more now and dinners around the table are a highlight rather than an exercise in time management and family vs. friends squabbles. Families are able to cook together properly now and I know in my house we’re actually eating healthier than we were before. The grab and go lunch is a thing of the past! Remember when you were a kid on Christmas Day and everything stopped to be together and have amazing times? For the kids, I am hopeful this will be their memories of this time. Quality time with their families, regardless of what’s going on outside. I’m also hopeful that we can continue the dialogue and meaningful family interactions when real life resumes. Society will be better for it.

There’s communities uniting in music and applause to show their appreciation for all the amazing healthcare and key workers. Strangers uniting together from windows, balconies and doorsteps, regardless of the usual, socially created divides that keep us apart - how beautiful is that?

More unity is found on our daily social distancing walks with the dog as strangers are keen to shout “Hello!” from across the street. We’re all so eager to connect right now and it’s pretty amazing. Today, I saw an elderly lady at her window and I stopped to wave at her. A month ago, I’d have been full of self-doubt thinking it would be odd to wave, lest she thought I was a weirdo or looking to break in! But not today - today we stood waving and smiling at each other as it was the most natural thing to do in this new normal. Gone are the days of hurrying to get where we’re going with our noses in our phones and I love it! I’m hopeful we can take this part of the new normal with us, and the virus - although temporarily separating us - will actually have the legacy of uniting us in our shared sense of community and social responsibility to each other.

Finally, Governments around the world got a massive wake-up call as to the importance of our health and care systems. The most important currency right now is the ability to save lives and care for others. The most important weapon Governments must race to invest in is a vaccine. I’m hopeful that when this is over, we will continue to rightfully give those on the front line in health, care, education and other key workers the resources, respect and gratitude they deserve. I’m hopeful that the lifespan of free universal healthcare has just been extended by another two or three generations. I’m also hopeful that the new generation of kids might roll their eyes at the idea of being footballers or pop stars, as the light has shined brightly on the real heroes in our global society.

There’s always hope. Hope is inextricably linked to recovery. We need hope and we can find hope in the most desperate times. The headlines will keep coming and we’re warned the news will get worse, but one day soon, we will recover and I hold hope that we can take the best parts of this trying situation with us.

So I’m asking: Where did you find hope today and what do you want to take with you on your recovery journey?

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