Our theme for the second half of the Spring Term was a key value for the school, that of community; At The Hall we wish to demonstrate equality, diversity, teamwork, citizenship and our place in the wider world through community.
Just before we closed the school due to the CV-19 distancing measures, the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered a message from Lambeth Palace. In his address, he considered some of the choices we would all have to make as the lockdown took hold:-
“The temptation may be to pull up the drawbridge and just look after ourselves. That’s the kind of thing that leads to panic buying, to growing fear, and to spiritual and emotional as well as physical isolation.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury asked us not to do that. He reminded us that “Life carries on and there is much to celebrate in our communities.” He urged us “to listen to the voice of God’s caring love for us, and his encouragement to turn ourselves towards others, and how we can care for those around us, in person or virtually.”
Signs of ‘putting on a brave face’ in a show of solidarity started in Italy, where they called out messages of support to each other from balcony to balcony and shared recipes, cheeringup the world in the early stages of their confinement by singing and playing musical instruments from their balconies. In Spain, communal stairways became the new running tracks while videos of neighbours cycling around balconies and flatmates playing foot-ping went viral.
In London and around the UK, we have seen an outward turning of gratitude towards the frontline workers in the NHS and care homes being expressed through Thursday evening ‘Clap for Our Carers’… we have seen an outward turning of compassion as people flock to volunteer to help the ill and vulnerable, through physical acts of shopping, delivering and making. New friends are being made, old relationships are being deepened.
Looking ahead to the Summer Term, as we face a further period of lockdown I have been reflecting upon how we can cultivate our own Hall community through this unique time of challenge. How we can build upon the basis of connection with each other, developing something that we all hold in common to be valuable, even though we cannot physically be together to do so. What can our community goal be during this time?
In my reflections, I came across an article by Ian Holdcroft, the adventurer and entrepreneur, which is ringing true in my mind. The key message that I have taken from Holdcroft’s piece is that although we cannot control the virus and as UK citizens we are at the behest of our government to stay physically removed from each other, what we can do is choose how to respond. Feeling that we are active in decision-making through the lockdown, rather than a helpless victim of the distancing measures, might be what counts through this extended period of being physically apart from our community. Passivity just makes you feel fearful and increases anxiety. But each of us has a choice in how we approach the demands that the lockdown imposes upon us – as an individual, as a member of our family and as a member of our school. We can choose our attitude.
The CV-19 pandemic has reminded us that human connection can spread illness. Let’s show ourselves that our Hall community above all promotes positive decision-making and kindness. Let’s be calm, be positive, be present, be respectful and see this lockdown as a unique opportunity to choose our attitude.