The first glimmer of light is appearing at the end of a very long tunnel. The roadmap for lifting the restrictions imposed on us during lockdown looks set to be revealed this Sunday by the Prime Minister, paving the way for a restoration of some semblance of normality, maybe not immediately, but soon.
This unsettling period has lasted for the best part of two months (yes, I know it feels like longer) and has been a huge challenge for all of us. As we prepare to once again emerge from the confines of our four walls into the big, wide world, now seems an appropriate time to look back on the past few weeks and think about how we have adapted, how we have evolved and how we have changed as a result of COVID-19.
Here’s five things the coronavirus pandemic has taught us.
- Forget the wheel, forget sliced bread, FaceTime (or your preferred Android equivalent) is the best thing ever invented. Imagine how hard the past heaven-knows-how-long would have been without the chance to ‘see’ friends and family, albeit through a five-inch screen. Video calls have kept loved ones in the loop, updating them on the progress of their grandchildren, documenting life’s magical milestones and giving us all an outlet to have a chat with someone outside of our own home. It’s not quite as good as being there in person but it’s definitely the next best thing.
- Stockpiling pasta and toilet roll was utterly ridiculous. Remember the panic in the early days of the outbreak? Supermarkets were swamped with people stuffing trollies with the essentials they thought were going to be decimated by a global pandemic. Quite where the science came from to suggest that the worldwide supply chain of dried fusilli and quilted Andrex would be the first to be hit remains a mystery and I’m sure there’s plenty of families up and down the country dreading yet another serving of mum’s dodgy tuna pasta bake to use up the last of what’s left in the cupboards. You reap what you sow.
- At times of crisis, this country comes together. With VE Day anniversary celebrations set to see friends and neighbours enjoying a socially-distanced cup of tea and a scone in their front gardens tomorrow, it’s easy to make the comparison between the Blitz spirit shown in war-time and the collective national effort that’s seen us pass the peak of COVID-19. While that may be slightly glib (after all, we’ve effectively been asked to sit on our backsides and watch Netflix, not fight in the trenches) the similarities are striking. This virus has united a country that was divided. All talk of Brexit has been banished, for a while left and right joined forces in the centre ground and the country rallied round to help neighbours and celebrate the heroes of the NHS. It has bought out the best in our communities.
- We are a nation of innovators. Whether it’s F1 teams manufacturing ventilators, pubs transforming themselves into community shops or resourceful computer-savvy homeworkers 3D printing lifesaving PPE, people are constantly coming up with new ways they can help out. The ingenuity shown by the sharpest brains in society has had a hugely positive impact on the way this crisis has been handled and has illustrated the importance of problem solving in all walks of life. Those that think laterally, develop ideas and give things a try will emerge from this stronger, with their reputations significantly enhanced.
- Northampton College really is the ‘college in the community’. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us that we really do have a lot to be proud of. The way the college has reacted to this totally unprecedented situation has shown admirable flexibility, innovation and a determination to help others in society. From food parcels for vulnerable neighbours, to hand sanitizer for care homes – the college has, literally, delivered. Students have seen their education continue remotely with a seamless transition into remote learning while teaching staff have embraced Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams to discover new ways of working and keep the show on the road. We’re not out of the woods yet but so far we have stuck to the right path and have led the way for others to follow.