Join’s Britain Connects campaign to bring thousands of people together

Join’s Britain Connects campaign to bring thousands of people together

Coronavirus and the ongoing UK lockdown has changed life as we know it. Millions of Britons have been stuck inside their homes for nine weeks and we’ve all had to adapt to this new way of living. Whether you’ve taken up a new hobby or reconnected with your family, there have been many positives to the lockdown.

But it’s not been an easy ride for many.

With the UK death toll hitting 33,000 and counting, countless people have been personally affected by this indiscriminate virus.

Because on top of the horrific death toll, COIVID-19 has wrought havoc on the lives of ordinary people.

Weddings and birthday celebrations have been cancelled, grandparents have described the pain of not being able to hug their loved ones, while loneliness has set in for those who live on their own.

From a lady who spent what should have been her wedding day by having a curry with her fiancé, to exhausted ambulance drivers and hospital cleaners, to people who have lost a loved one – there are plenty of tragic stories to be heard, and we want you to hear them.

Britain Connects aims to do exactly that. We want to connect people across the UK to take part in an online chat between May 22 and 24.

On paper, Jovan Nepaul and Lynda Felton-Scott had little in common. Lynda, 75, is a retired nurse from Batley, Yorkshire, who is currently shielding at home due to health problems.

While Jovan, 23, is a politics student from West Bromwich who has used lockdown to volunteer in his community.

The pair connected on Zoom, chatting for almost two hours after we asked them to be the first participants in a groundbreaking new project.

Lynda said: “Jovan is a lovely young man. It felt like we really did know each other straight away. I’d love to go out for a cup of tea with him when the lockdown is over.

“On paper, we seem different – we voted differently in the election – but we share a lot of the same values.”

Lynda said she thinks Prime Minister Boris Johnson is doing a reasonable job – “the best of a bad lot” who will “get Brexit done”.

But Jovan is a Labour supporter who says he “did everything in my power to stop Boris being elected”.

Yet despite their differences, Jovan said he enjoyed his call with Lynda. He said: “I would have never spoken to someone like Lynda in my normal life.

“We just wouldn’t have met and politically we seem very different, but we had a lot in common.”

It turned out Jovan and Lynda actually shared a number of interests.

During their chat, Lynda talked about the nights she spent at the famous Cavern Club, watching the Beatles.

She said: “I went to school with Paul McCartney and John Lennon, that’s my only claim to fame.

Jovan – who plays bass in the Themselves Houseband, as part of a collective that organises arts events in London – said: “I think that’s cooler than anything I could ever say!”

After sharing some stories – about how Lynda was overwhelmed by the generosity of people after she was given donations, and how Jovan is fearful of the future and worries about how he’ll be able to pay his rent and get a job after this – Jovan thanked Lynda for speaking to him.

She laughed, saying: “We were thrown together, but I’m so pleased we were.”

Offering a nugget of advice, she added: “You’re a lovely chap. Just don’t marry a nurse.”

So whether you are volunteering in your community, rewatching Game of Thrones or home-schooling your children, we want to hear from you.

Every one of our unique experiences of the coronavirus pandemic matters.

COVID-19 is a challenge for all of us but overwhelmingly we have seen one of its positives is connection.

People have strengthened their local connections all over the UK, whether you’re now choosing to shop locally to help support your local greengrocers, or you’re reaching out to your neighbours during the Thursday night Clap for Carers.

Steve Ballinger from British Future says: “Many of us have been heartened by the surge of community spirit in this crisis.

“But the longer-term impacts on social connection are less clear. If new networks are based mainly in the most cohesive and ­resilient areas, there’s a risk that others will be left further behind.”

Britain Connects is your chance to reach out as the UK weathers this COVID-19 storm.

Whether you want to experience the coronavirus pandemic through someone else’s eyes, or just help someone to feel less lonely, you could make a difference.


Published at Fri, 15 May 2020 15:51:00 +0000