We’re learning to live, work and play with COVID-19 in our community here in Western Australia. Inevitably, for many of us, this means periods of isolation.

 

Befriend’s Community Manager, local Vic Park resident and board game enthusiast Dave recently spent 10 unexpected days at home with his family, after one of his children tested positive. Whilst it wasn’t without its challenges, he ended up having an unexpectedly humbling time, largely thanks to the efforts and care of others. Here are five things Dave observed about community life, from his home-isolation.

 

  1. Simple “every day” invitations matter

Some of the loveliest invitations and offers came from our neighbours and friends who tried to enrich each day for us in a small, kind way:-

  • I’m heading to the library, are there any books you’d like to borrow? We can leave them on your porch!
  • I’m at the grocery store, do you need anything?
  • I’m heading out for a coffee, would you like me to grab you a takeaway and drop it off on my way home?
  • I’m taking the dog for an extra-long walk around your way, shall I drop off some board games?
  • I’ve made way too much dinner, would you like me to run some leftovers over?

We found that people often utilised the routines and spaces that already existed in their life and just extended us a thought. It was these types of simple “every day”  invitations that were so meaningful and helped us feel so included.

 

2. People are kind and love to help

Don’t be frightened to ask for help (from people you know, and people you don’t). Part of being human is looking after one another in times of need. And that help, more often than not, comes with no expectation at all… there’s mutual reciprocity in just knowing you’ve made someone’s day. When a neighbour dropped off some treats for us, they said it would cost “one cuddle with the cat, which has been paid for, in full”. We saw that people genuinely wanted to help in their own unique ways because they took joy in it.

 

3. Creative connections made our week

Being plunged into isolation definitely doesn’t have to mean no contact with the outside world (although taking time to connect with yourself is important, too). We relied heavily on technology to keep us connected to our friends and family, and we actually used the time we had to have longer, richer conversations, because, well, we had nothing else to do! We also enjoyed:-

  • Plenty of waves and smiles from passing neighbours
  • A magic show performed through the window
  • Friends calling us on the phone for a chat whilst they stood outside our home
  • Handwritten notes and cards
  • “Verandah drinks” with the neighbours over the road

No idea is too big or too small, no gesture or invitation is unnoticed and your creativity is awesome!

4. Your empathy means more than you think

We were so warmed by genuine, heartfelt offers of help, support, empathy and warm-wishes. It’s not about monetary value or gifts, or even about the practicalities of those offers of help. Just knowing people were there for us if we needed anything was more than enough.

 

5. All connections are important to nurture (but particularly your neighbours!)

We were so appreciative to hear from so many different people in our lives – colleagues old and new, family, neighbours, people who lived far away, people we spoke to often, people we don’t speak to regularly… connections with people can run deep, and be long-lasting. Check-in on your friends, co-workers, the folks from your old book club and your best mate from high school – you never know who might love to hear from you that day.

 

We’re lucky to have a close knit hyper-local community right on our doorstep, but we also acknowledge that we’ve really made a conscious effort to nurture those relationships over the years. We’ve knocked on doors to introduce ourselves, posted ‘connection cards’ out with our contact information, shared lemons from our tree and created a space for our street to connect digitally on social media (which makes it really easy to stay connected and ask for help!). Those gestures are important, simple and authentic and that active commitment has really helped us get to know some amazing people.

 

We’re all likely to know, or live near, someone in isolation over the coming weeks. Some questions we’re left wondering;

 

  • How can you be there for your community right now?
  • How can you actively cultivate stronger relationships with your neighbours? (these connection cards from Red Cross are lovely and ready to print!)
  • What gifts, gestures, hobbies or acts of kindness could you share with someone in isolation to make their day?
  • How and where can you ask your community for support if you’re in isolation?

 

We know it’s not always easy but we’re here to listen and learn from you, and perhaps even help you spark new connections – whether that’s in your own community or through the Befriend Social Network. As always, get in touch if have questions, an idea to bring people together, or even if you’re curious about how you could get to know your neighbours. Dave would love to share some of his experiences with you – reach him at .