Since lockdown, community has become even more important to society. Many of us realised just how much other people meant to us when we couldn’t see them.
The benefits of being part of a community is a sense of belonging, safety and being connected to other people. I feel sorry for the people during lockdown who didn’t have access to the internet, or the knowledge to use laptops, smartphones and tablets. Many of us are lucky enough to have had the opportunity to talk to family and friends. This is community. Imagine what life would be like without it.
Connection to Others
Feeling connected to others is important. Loneliness is a real problem that can affect us all. We all want to feel validated, listened to and supported in our lives. Due to my disability, my main community was online. Through forums, chat rooms and social media I found people I had things in common with. People who had the same hobbies, who I could chat to about my love of theatre. Groups where problems can be solved, knowledge given and received or even just a funny video I’d seen that and thought other people might like too.
Conversations online have led to me finding local community activities. Most notable for me would be my dance group. Having people close by and being able to see them face to face is important. As many of us had access to the online world, that same online world was filled with pictures of relatives and friends hugging once restrictions were lifted. Being part of a local community means there is a support network nearby. Local support groups have been set up to offer volunteer help with everything from shopping to dog walking.
Local community groups and fundraisers are also far more likely to be about something relevant to you than a national campaign. The country is unlikely to care if your local library shuts down, but the people in your neighbourhood who have used the library will care about it because of shared community experience. This is why local fundraising may be more successful than national. People care about who and what they know. One of the most popular questions being asked on the internet and social media is when can community centres open? This shows just how important the local community is and how much it has been missed.
Finding Local Community Groups
I found people local to me by talking to people online. Some people are lucky enough to still be in touch with their school friends. Search for groups that hold interest for you, if you’re interested then hopefully you’ll enjoy yourself and connect with people. If books are your thing, join a book club, if it’s gardening that makes you smile then look for that. There are groups and clubs for almost any hobby you can think of. Facebook, Twitter and the next door app are all great places to start if you want to head out into your community. Even if it’s local many groups and activities are now online so if you are more comfortable at home for whatever reason you can still become involved locally.
The important thing, whether online or in-person is that you have a support network. This can be one person or a whole group of people. A community supports one another and after a year of isolation is more important than ever.
Author: Lucy Currier – App Champion for Birmingham