Fiona McGill, occupational health manager at BHSF, looks at whether there have been positives during the coronavirus restrictions.

With working from home the norm for many and school closures still in place at the time of writing, lockdown has had a significant impact on how we live our lives in the UK.

From the many people who have sadly died from the virus to the number of people who have lost their job as a result of the pandemic, this has proved an extremely challenging time for a lot of people.

However, there has undoubtedly been a silver lining to the distinctly dark cloud of COVID-19. From families spending more time with each other to socialising virtually with loved ones.

Many people are also using exercise as a coping mechanism. Over half of Brits have said they have benefitted from exercising outdoors under the current conditions1.

Fundraising and keeping active

Speaking of exercise, up and down the country people have gone to great lengths to keep active during the crisis whilst at the same time also raising money for charities.

A third of people who have supported a charity during lockdown have donated more money than usual according to a report from Opinium2.

Scottish javelin record holder James Campbell ran a marathon in his back garden and raised over £26,000 for the NHS.

Joey Higham ran five marathons in five days and ended up raising over £9,000 for Mind after his initial target was £600. complete between one and five runs depending on how much people pledged.

And Haroon Mota ran 260km while fasting during Ramadan. Mota, who ran 10km each evening during a 16 to 18 hour fast, initially set a target of raising £25,000. He has raised over £54,000 for the Penny Appeal.

Gardening has also proven to be a popular activity during lockdown. Over 40% of Brits have turned to gardening to help deal with lockdown restrictions according to the Office for National Statistics3.

A report in the Mental Health Review Journal cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve your mood, with the activity seeming to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety4.

Community

For weeks since lockdown began we’ve seen an outpouring of support for the vulnerable from individuals and communities across the UK. People have come together to help one another through these trying times.

A survey carried out by Ipsos MORI has revealed 60% of Brits have volunteered to help others, whether through delivering shopping to people who are self-isolating or simply ringing up elderly neighbours for a chat5.

There are examples where our staff have been checking up on their elderly neighbours to see if they are ok and have even shopped for them. A great gesture.

One example which has touched me is how families and volunteers in Piddlehinton have turned the threat of coronavirus into an opportunity for a fresh start. In a village of around 500 people, families and volunteers have been delivering food and medication to those who can’t get to the shops. It’s helped to bring the community closer together6.

We’ve also seen football players, managers and legends call vulnerable fans who are at home alone. Clubs have also taken on other activities to help tackle isolation in their local communities7. For example, Norwich City have been delivering food parcels to people in sheltered housing.

It’s important to acknowledge this has been a difficult time for us all including for key workers and staff working in healthcare. The weekly applause for medical staff and key workers has been heartwarming and it’s great that people have chosen to show their appreciation in such a way.

Family

Lockdown restrictions have had a positive impact on bringing the majority of families closer together. Research carried out by Childcare has found over 70% of families have spent more quality time together during lockdown8.

Family and friends have also been socialising virtually more as a result of being in lockdown. 78% of people surveyed by ONS have said contacting important people in their lives over the phone, social media or video conferencing has been a key factor in coping while being at home9.

Whether it be hen parties, quiz nights or fitness classes, these are some of the ways family and friends have participated in activities online and kept in touch. As a result, Zoom and Houseparty have seen huge increases in take-up. Zoom’s global daily users have gone from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million in April 2020 and 50 million people have signed up to Houseparty.

It’s important in times like these to reflect on the positives, and hopefully, families will continue to prioritise spending quality time together even after the lockdown has ended.

If you or know of anyone who thinks they have had COVID-19 or any associated symptoms, we’re here to help. Call us today on 0800 622 552 or email ohenquiries@bhsf.co.uk.

1, 3 and 9 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52578358

2 – https://fundraising.co.uk/2020/05/18/third-of-donors-giving-more-during-lockdown/

4 – Mental Health Review Journal, 2013: Gardening as a mental health intervention: a review

5 – https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/life-under-lockdown-coronavirus-uk

6 – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-52789073/coronavirus-how-lockdown-brought-a-village-closer-together

7 – https://www.premierleague.com/news/1648458

8 – https://www.childcare.co.uk/news/lockdown