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The VOICE Pulse: 4 weeks in...

  • 23/04/2020
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How does a pandemic affect our physical and psychological health? Does social isolation change who we are? What are the positive and negative things we can learn from these unprecedented times? These are just a few questions we were urged to ask our community in order to learn as soon as possible from each other how to deal along a curse of time we hope could be as short as possible, but about which we still don’t know an “end date”.

With the purpose of understanding if is there a “curve” of feelings and – if yes – what this trajectory could look like, we have been sending out a very short weekly anonymous survey called The VOICE Pulse; our way of checking in every week with the community asking how you are feeling and the main reasons why. 

After 4 weeks, we thought it was timely to write a quick blog to summarise some of the insights we’ve received to date and also to thank the VOICE members who have been completing our weekly Pulse survey. This is the first checkpoint of a broader story: a more comprehensive report will be produced in the near future.

“How are you feeling today?”

Each week we are asking members to rate how they are feeling in a sort of “barometer”, from ‘Extra Stormy’ to ‘All Sunshine’, and the main reason why. In general, a first positive sign of these first weeks is seeing how the percentage of you feeling ‘Sunny’ has increased in recent weeks.

Since we began the Pulse, members have provided us with a range of reasons why they are feeling particularly positive.  Key themes have included;

  • Remaining socially connected to friends, family and neighbours; many stated that this has been made easier through the use of technology – such as Zoom and WhatsApp
  • Keeping occupied by engaging in hobbies, interests and jobs around the home. This has included reading a book you have been meaning to get round to, taking the opportunity to learn new things by embarking on an online course, doing some gardening – and in one case, producing a radio show from home!
  • For those that are able, taking the chance to get out of the home for some exercise – whilst still adhering to physical distancing guidelines. The fantastic weather we have been having lately has definitely been a contributing factor.  In some instances, exercising for those unable to leave the home has been supported by online resources...

    “I followed a YouTube guide to exercises that are helping my hip arthritis”

Although some members are indeed feeling positive, this is an incredibly difficult and uncertain time for many of us.  The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a range of challenges, concerns and needs which has led to people feeling anxious and fearful of what the future may hold. 

Members who reported feeling ‘Extra Stormy’ or ‘Stormy’, gave a number of reasons which highlighted some prominent themes;

  • Uncertainty and fear about what will happen next, how the future will be impacted by COVID-19. Some are finding isolation stressful, and not knowing when it will end creates further anxiety.  A fear of catching COVID-19, or indeed a friend or family member, also featured highly in Pulse responses.
  • The UK Government response, advice and guidance. Some members felt that the government seemed unprepared, issued inaccurate information and initially mishandled the situation.  Also the response of some people in society not adhering to government advice regarding physical distancing, and potentially putting others at risk
  • Concern about existing health conditions, either themselves or a friend or family member, and therefore possibly making them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

If you share some of the above concerns, we have provided links to relevant support and resources at the end of this blog.

In addition to asking members how they are feeling, we also ask one further question - which changes each week. 

In week 2 we asked “What is the one thing you did this week that helped to improve your current circumstances or made a positive difference to your life right now?”

The responses to this were an absolute pleasure to read through!  Technology was the main theme, and the ingenious ways in which it has been adapted, utilised and shared to keep people connected, but physically distant, during the pandemic has been wonderful to see.  As well as keeping people connected, technology has also provided opportunities to fill in the time…

“[I] visited a Ballet performance in Alberta, Canada on-line - a quite wonderful 1hr 30mins to take my mind off the problems”

And it’s not just about keeping people connected, it’s about using this time to make new connections;

 “Made contact with an old friend unexpectedly because I joined messenger for the first time for a family quiz!”

Our Pulse report will explore the responses to all of the other questions we have posed during The VOICE Pulse, so watch this space! Do keep completing each week, and remember that the VOICE team are all working from home and online, so please keep in touch.

We’ll also be sending out an annual members survey so please look out for that too! 

All best wishes to everybody - stay safe.

The VOICE Team

For all personal health guidance relating to coronavirus, please visit the following sites for up-to-date health advice and guidance:

  • World Health Organisation - for answers to the most frequent questions about COVID-19
  • NHS.UK - for information about the virus and how to protect yourself
  • GOV.UK - for the latest information about the situation in the UK and what to do if you think you're at risk

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