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From doorstep violin concerts and roving broadcasts of lullabies to cycling for people with disabilities, communities across the UK are finding new ways to come together to address the isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
In both Hull and London, artist Luke Jerram has used 40 illuminated bikes equipped with surround sound speakers to bring performances of local people’s favourite lullabies to their front doors. The songs are woven into a 30-minute composition, which is broadcast around the city at dusk by local cyclists. The next stop for the project is Bristol.
“The lullabies submitted reflected the diversity of the community area,” says Jerram, adding that people had submitted night-time songs in a wide range of languages, including French and Hindi, for inclusion in the project via their mobile phones.
“We often find people with their kids in pyjamas with little night lights waiting for us to pass by. Some ran after the bikes waving their own light sticks whilst others just stood smiling.”
Jerram had not performed the project, first created in 2015, for several years. But during the lockdown he realised its heartwarming effect could “lift everyone’s spirits” at such an anxious time.
“Some people are really touched by this, especially if they’ve been mainly home or shielding … It’s a reason for people to come out at a particular time to share an experience as a community. I think people understand the value of it in a way they perhaps didn’t before Covid-19.”
In Wiltshire, classical musicians Lucy Hewson and Rebecca Prosser have performed violin concerts outside the homes of older people during lockdown to combat social isolation.
“It started tentatively with a neighbour of ours who had just had his 96th birthday in lockdown,” says Hewson. “He gave us a playlist so we had to arrange some music for him. He brought his song book out and sang along with us out the front of his house.”
The 96-year-old enjoyed the performance in June so much that Hewson and Prosser delivered more than 35 personalised genre-spanning concerts, from traditional folk to Abba, to rural doorsteps and care home gardens.
Many older people told them that the concerts were the first entertainment they had experienced since last Christmas. “The gratitude is humbling,” Hewson says. “It has been wonderful to see faces light up as we play something familiar – feet tapping, hands clapping and singing!
“It brings a lot of joy to us as well as we feel a bit lost at the moment, all our normal work has gone. It’s delightful to be able to connect with people.”
“Before the pandemic, I had thought the sense of community has been lost,” says Hassan Ali, a youth worker who has been delivering free locally grown organic food to families whose children receive free school meals and shielders in Roehampton, south-west London. “But now it’s as strong as ever, so many people have been coming together.”
The charity he works for, Regenerate UK, teamed up with local urban food growing project Growhampton to help them harvest salad leaves, kale, radishes, leeks, melons, tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, which are distributed in boxes, along with donations and surplus food from wholesalers, to hundreds of peoples homes each week.
“To provide fresh organic produce for people in my community is a real good feeling,” he says. “I get to the door and say this has just been picked this morning from right over there, some of the families live in housing estates in eyeshot of the gardens where the food is grown. Last week we delivered our 5,000th both since the start of the pandemic.”
The charity now plans to partner with local allotment growers who are willing to donate their surplus produce.
In West Sussex, the charity Cycall has seen its free adapted cycling sessions for people with limited mobility and learning difficulties grow in popularity as many seek to become healthier and fitter due to Covid fears.
Martine Walters, who began offering the sessions funded by donations from Sport England and the National Lottery in May last year, said it was more important than ever for people to feel included in society due to long spells of confinement indoors.
“Its especially hard for people right now who face barriers to being physically active to find exercises they can access,” adds Walters, who herself has accessibility issues. “We try to get the whole family involved, it’s hard to find inclusive activities for everyone if one member is disabled.”
Walters says being outside in nature is vital for emotional wellbeing and people particularly value the social interaction. “We always say we’re about more than peddling,” she adds.
Noting that a 95-year-old woman went so fast last week that she had to be chased until she slowed down, she adds: “There’s a lot of laughter and fun too.”
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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: How UK community projects are fighting isolation caused by coronavirus | World news