IN our family, as I am sure is the case with many others, grandparents have taken the opportunity during this time to write down and share memories of their younger lives. Wartime and immediate post war memories have been of particular interest. The sense of uncertainty felt by communities as they shifted from the horrors of real war to the potentially devastating consequences of The Cold War has some resonance today. By the start of the 1990’s the world was a safer place and although there have been international political and economic incidents, we have not faced anything on a truly global scale, until now. Inevitably the uncertain times have returned.

Perhaps it is this sense of uncertainty that makes us feel all the more emotional in our reactions at the moment. Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, shares this anecdote: “Last week I was waiting in a socially distanced queue outside the supermarket as the rain started to fall. One of the staff noticed we were getting wet. He scurried away to find a pile of umbrellas, carefully disinfected the hands and passed them out with a smile. To my surprise, my eyes started to well up. At a time when I felt alone, I suddenly felt connected.”

We have all, no doubt, had times in the last couple of months where we have been surprised by an emotional reaction and it is important to acknowledge that this is fine. This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for this year is the importance of kindness. Words and acts of kindness have the potential to bring us together, to help us feel valued and to cope with uncertainties in our lives. The Mental Health Foundation hopes that one of the results from this week of reflection will be a discussion on the kind of society we want to shape as we emerge from this pandemic.

At King’s Ely, as well as making practical adjustments for what might be the ‘new normal’, we are also reflecting upon what we have learnt during this period of remote learning. Whilst thinking about which aspects of our ‘digital upskilling’ we want to take forward, it is important to bear in mind what it is that binds us together as the King’s community. The connections we have made with each other, be that over years or just terms, means that we can support each other through these uncertain times. That even “remotely” we can be sure that whilst we are looking out for others, there are others looking out for us too.

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