A street united in a spirit of ‘Covidliness’

 

Sir, – On March 12th when Ireland closed due to Covid-19 and lock down was implemented, my first thought was, who will I talk to face to face, how will I pass the day? In my “normal life” I’m always on the go, teaching, volunteering, coffees, meals out, shopping. . . . always doing.

I’ve been living in my cul de sac of 14 houses for 11 years and I’m ashamed to say I knew nobody except a couple of my neighbours to give a quick wave to.

I was so touched by what I saw the Italians doing during the height of their lockdown, coming together, singing on their balconies that I thought maybe I could start something similar here.

So on Saturday, March 14th I dropped a handwritten note (as the printer had no ink) in through everyone’s door and the response was amazing.

That first night one neighbour had to use a pen and paper to jot down people’s names and house numbers so we could remember who was who and who lived where! What a change there has been since then.

We have been out together, 2 metres apart every single night at 7pm since March 15th, and now in the middle of October we have celebrated 30 weeks of being “together but apart”.

There have been no exceptions. We are out in the rain, wind or sun. We have been singing together, dancing, playing bingo, playing tennis, hopscotch, scooting, kite flying and generally acting the maggot.

The highlight of the week is takeaway night on Friday night, be it fish and chips, pizza, or restaurant deliveries – candelabras and table cloths are a must! Whoever fancies “eating out” puts in an order for 7pm for delivery and we sit on the pathway outside our homes.

We’ve celebrated birthdays, we delivered Easter Eggs to every house as a little surprise on Easter morning, we have toasted marshmallows and lit the fire pit when the weather has been a little chilly.

We have come together in silence and we have shone our lights to remember those who haven’t made it and we have applauded the frontline staff for all their amazing work. Every day I feel so thankful that I popped the note in everyone’s door. I feel truly blessed that people who were strangers to me seven months ago are now people I can call friends.

One of our neighbours came up with the word “Covidliness” to describe what we are doing in our small community – such a beautiful word to describe such beautiful things that have happened during this time between people who were strangers but now are friends.

My advice is don’t be afraid to reach out to offer support or to give it. I didn’t sleep the night after I put the note through everyone’s door back in March. I thought “What have a done?”.

But it has honestly been the best thing I ever could have done, not just for me but for my community. We are there to support each other for the good days, the not-so-good days and the bad days, and that’s what is important.

For some of the community we are “the family” they don’t get to see. For others, 7pm is the only time in each day they have contact with someone – and it has been their lifeline.

Communities are vital – especially during these challenging times, and hopefully I’ve helped to make it a little easier for those living in mine. – Yours, etc,

KATE GRAY,

Killiney,

Co Dublin.