Part 4 your reality (News item) - RSA

2020s Crises and Change: Your reality (Part 4)

Long form 5 Comments

  • Community and place-based action
  • Health and wellbeing

INTRO - Guide to the terrain

PART 1 - Before the pandemic

PART 2 - Transitional space

PART 3 - The emerging future

PART 4 - Your reality

There is no common story of the pandemic, simply a diversity of contrasting experiences. 

Whether you’re approaching these narratives we share here as a citizen, a community member, or as someone who works in civil society or government, we invite you to use the provocations (presented in Parts 1-3) as a means of reflecting back on and making sense of your own experiences.

We hope this sensemaking inspires you to re-imagine what you would like the emerging future to look like, and what your role in making that happen could be.  

If you would be willing to add your voice to those we have already heard, please add a comment below.


An invitation for sensemaking and re-imagining

The pandemic is the epitome of a complex and volatile challenge facing society.
Its impacts are felt in different ways by different people in different places.
We are all trying to weather the storm.
In our own lives, in our families, in our communities.
The extent to which we can do this is dependent on so much.
On the degree to which we felt secure in our lives before the pandemic hit.
On the assets and facilities and resources available in our communities and across our networks.

Yet we find the landscape shifts quickly and with little warning.
Just when we think we are getting somewhere, everything can change.
Perhaps we hope for certainty but find we have to live with ambiguity.
Straight line paths out of lockdown can feel more like a fairground ride.
A roller-coaster of a journey.
A journey through an unfamiliar landscape.
A landscape that we each experience differently.
Differences that arise out of our own individual circumstances.

We don’t presume to aggregate these differences into a composite set of stories.
To do so would lose the nuance and only be as diverse as the number of stories we could have heard.

We have chosen instead to offer an invitation.

An invitation to explore a map of the terrain.
The map starts from the uplands of the 2010s, of a time pre-Covid-19.
We invite you to explore the impact of the pandemic on this landscape. 
To explore the reality of living in a space that is neither the old normal nor the new.
A liminal space. One of ambiguity, of flux of transition…
To explore notions of a future that we emerge into post-pandemic.

Our invitation is to engage with other people’s realities.
To contrast them with your own.
To see this as a way of reflecting on what you have been through as well as what others have, too.
To look into a social mirror for your own experiences. 

We may all be weathering the same storm, but its effects have impacted us all with varying intensities.
We emerge into the future in a flotilla of different boats with varying degrees of seaworthiness.
Yet we are united in our uncertainty of what that future holds, of what lies beyond the map.
We invite you to explore this terrain, to roam around the landscape and see what it offers for you as you imagine the future, to see what’s missing.

In the time you spend exploring this terrain, we hope you discover new layers and depth to this collective inquiry. We hope you are left with new or affirming insights, questions, ideas, and aspirations for the future

And, at the end, if you have taken away any personal insights or future dreams, or feel inspired to share a part of your story, to enrich this landscape, we offer a space for you to add your story to those of others.


Lockdown Lines

by Ian MacMillan  

When all this is over, what will we remember?
When all this is over, whose stories will we tell?

A siren tears through the morning air
as those who make a difference put the kettle on
before stepping out in to a changing world
when all the old certainties have been and gone.

The tiny local kindnesses that build ad build
The shopping delivered, the window wave
the redrafting of that world 'unskilled'.
The thoughtful, the funny, the quietly brave.

The bright moon hangs in the evening sky
and people tell their stories o they write them down.
Here is an archive of a turbulent time
from every street and village and every town.

As the days move slowly and the hours run fast
and we stand apart but our hearts are one.
The spirit of these times feels built to last
and we'll still try to make a difference when the virus has gone.

When all this is over, what will we remember?
When all this is over, whose story will we tell?

Listen to the poem on the BBC website


Sensemaking and re-imagining

There are as many different experiences of Covid-19 as there are people and families. Everyone’s context and circumstances vary and it is this variety and unpredictability that characterises a complex challenge. Everyone’s role in the system and their capacity, agency and power to make change is also different. We believe is vital to acknowledge this as part of efforts to move beyond the crisis.

There is no single truth or narrative to be written but a diversity of experience that should be recognised. In this short piece of work we have identified a few, including:

  • How some have lost multiple family members to Covid-19 and others know no-one who has contracted Covid19
  • How some have lost work while others have made a fortune
  • How some have few internet-enabled devices and no access to broadband while others enjoy superfast speeds on multiple devices
  • How some have had to support their children learning at home while others are isolated
  • How many hope for young people to create change after Covid-19 and yet they have missed significant schooling, adolescence and rites of passage

In addition, we face a number of challenges, too, such as:

  • How to hang on to our hopes and expectations for the future when facing immediate short-term challenges and concerns
  • How we might experience a feeling of togetherness while living with imposed isolation
  • How to respond to other crises while already coping with Covid-19
  • How to seize opportunities for change while longing for a return to normality

Collectively these barely start to scratch the surface, yet they illustrate the challenge we face. If we are to work together to create a better world after Covid-19 we need to find ways of navigating and brokering a way through such diversity of experience and expectation.

If you would be willing to add your voice to those we have already heard, please add a comment below.

Join the discussion


Please login to post a comment or reply

Don't have an account? Click here to register.

  • I have been working throughout the pandemic with many of the people who have been left out of all Government support packages - and my own organization did not qualify for any help except the furlough scheme - but I needed my staff! Purple Shoots does microfinance - small loans to individuals to enable them to start or run a small business who cannot get funding from anywhere else. These are people considered bad risks by all other financial institutions and yet in the pandemic it was these small businesses who flexed, adapted and survived, even in the absence of any Government grant and they have mostly bounced straight back as lockdown eases. They will I believe be at the vanguard of our economic recovery and will produce that recovery in the middle of communities, benefitting the local area. Policy makers demonstrated that they neither understand nor believe in these tiny businesses and this needs to change in the future because of their demonstrable resilience, commitment to local communities - they are even greener because they tend to use local suppliers, to work locally etc. In addition, I would like to see the focus of policy move away from its obsession with growth - a good starting point would be to change Company law so that directors are not obliged simply to maximize shareholder value, but are also obliged to consider benefits to the environment and the communities the company operates in and their own staff. There is some disillusionment with the profit motive so perhaps there will be support for this. I would also like to see legislation similar to that of the US which compels larger financial institutions to give a proportion of their profits to community funders (like Purple Shoots - there are loads more like us in the US!) to enable them to support the financially excluded into business and work.

  • I am retired and I live in Cyprus, but lockdowns have not made a lot of difference to me except for restrictions on going out to restaurants.

  • I've held online men's groups every day since lockdown and they have literally been a lifesaver - all by donation. I've self-funded my men's groups for 20 years and my intention is for men to have somewhere to speak things out, rather than lashing out on others or lashing in on themselves and getting into suppression, rumination, depressions, suicidal thoughts and feelings, alcoholism, etc. I wish I had more support, though men attending have often contributed something and I've trained both men and women to hold the space for others to speak things out, be heard and get real. My Amazon ebook on holding groups hit the No.1 spot and my training days are now accredited offering CPD points to therapists / coaches so I have more volunteer facilitators to meet demand. Out of the blue GQ wrote a feature article and this video was made for us - come train or take part in a group

  • Governments worldwide are institutionally predisposed to think using macro-economic models. As a result, global crisis response is also delivered in macro-economic terms - furlough programmes designed to allow companies to retain staff; susidised loans or grants to businesses; tax-relief for landlords; direct funding to local authorities, national institutions and infrastructure operators. In all this, the individual citizen may often be overlooked. Around the world, even in huge first-world economies, people on the 'edges' of society - perhaps working in the 'gig' economy, those already suffering hardships and deprivations - the socially, economically and digitally excluded - have been left even further behind. It has been heartening to see local communities and the voluntary sector attempt to plug this gap, (and I have had the pleasure of being involved first-hand in this process,) but this type of crisis response is inevitably delivered without the resources available to national, Governmental processes. Future Governments will need to explore better mechanisms for 'localising' the delivery of crisis response, to ensure that it isn't just big business, larger institutions - and their staffs - that benefit.

  • Hi, I suffered a stroke during the pandemic, was taken into hospital for acute therapy and rehab, now working with CHS Scotland on a rehab project using Apple watches as fall detection devices and to link a group of fellow sufferers. This may well extend to long Covid sufferers, also in rehab. Mic

Funding partner

2020s Crises and Change