Challenges, discoveries and solidarity during the lockdown

Man working on laptop

With UK National Agency staff temporarily working remotely due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, European Solidarity Corps staff have adjusted some of their ways of working. 

Keeping activities running as smoothly as possible, whilst also supporting our beneficiaries and applicants, has been the top priority for the team. If you have a Solidarity Corps project or are a participant, please check our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document in our Coronavirus update for more information. 

Thanks to technology, we can support and keep in touch with our community, whether by email or via recorded and live webinars. In this post, find out about how we have adapted our work and some of the new habits that the Solidarity Corps team have adopted to keep stress at bay, as well as how our social media followers are spending their free time.

Events and meetings

Planned events were, for the most part, postponed following the UK government’s announcement of the lockdown. The Solidarity Corps Start-up Seminar, however, occurred in its very first digital version. 

Instead of the in-person meeting in Birmingham as initially planned, the Solidarity Corps team prepared a series of webinars for 2019 Call – Round 3 beneficiaries. As part of these resources, beneficiaries had the opportunity to pose questions to UK National Agency staff in a live Q&A on 1 April. 

The Solidarity Corps team also conduct regular meetings online, where we share updates, current  priorities and even some personal projects. 

Skype meeting

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month in the UK, a period which aims to increase public awareness about the causes and cures for stress. Having some extra free time will allow everyone to look into new ways of keeping themselves mentally and physically active in order to help fight off rising stress levels.

‘I’ve started the Couch to 10K interval running programme to stay healthy, which I do after work three times a week,’ says senior project manager Aisha Smith (photo below, left). 

Training (left); growing sprouts (right)

The lockdown has revealed a few green fingers in the team, with projects on all sort of scales. Fumie Izaki, Team Leader for European Solidarity Corps and Erasmus+ Youth at the UK National Agency, started growing sprouts and germinating seeds, such as black lentils and fenugreek, in a jar (photo above, right).

‘Growing sprouts requires changing the water in the jar twice a day, which I would never have thought of doing if I haven’t had to work from home. It is nice to be observant of these little changes’, reflects Fumie. 

Project manager Mercedes Green has adopted indoor gardening as a new hobby.

‘I have been trying (and sometimes failing) to look after a number of new plants and flowers, as they keep me company working from home. Daily watering, repotting and giving them the occasional sunbathe has helped to me to keep busy during this lockdown. Whilst we can’t spend a lot of time outside, the addition of plants in my work area is very much welcome and always brightens my day,’ she says. 

‘I had no idea how rewarding it is to see your plants growing! It’s basically something positive to look forward to every day.’

For Eurodesk officer Eva de Luis, gardening takes her to back to her family roots.

‘My grandad used to grow all kinds of vegetables, nuts, fruits and flowers. I used to help him harvesting apples, cherries, strawberries, almonds and hazelnuts – my favourites! I used to think that the best part of growing your own food was to eat it, but actually I had no idea how rewarding it is to see your plants growing! It’s basically something positive to look forward to every day.’

Eva also recommends Hannah’s handy isolation tips. This Edinburgh-based student writes about how she’s adapting her daily routine to the enforced stay-at-home life of the Coronavirus outbreak, and inspires young people to make the most of their time and stay positive during the lockdown.

We asked our Twitter followers how they were spending their free time, and 40% answered ‘by helping others’.

When solidarity blossoms 

Challenging times can bring out the best in people. We asked our Twitter followers how they were spending their free time, and 40% answered ‘by helping others’. 

Remember that Solidarity Corps activities can help tackle societal issues caused or exacerbated at this stressful time, such as isolation, mental health problems or the spread of fake news. With the European Solidarity Corps Round 2 funding deadline fast approaching (extended to 7 May 2020, 11am UK time), project ideas for solidarity that could address these challenges will flourish! 

We would love to hear from our community about how you are working from home, what you are doing to keep physically and mentally well and if you have had any chances to show solidarity during the outbreak.

Share your stories by sending us an email or by
tagging us on Facebook or Twitter – stay in touch and stay safe!

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