Well another two weeks have crawled by and a bank holiday weekend has disappeared in the blink of an eye.
I don’t know about you but the days are all rolling into one and my only way of telling the difference is if I have to put the bins out or the work out scheduled for that morning (full disclosure they may be scheduled but they certainly have not all happened—and I’m more OK with that than I normally would be).
I finding it so hard to believe I’ve only been at Public Health Wales (PHW) for just 9 weeks. So much has happened in that time and I can’t remember life being any other way, it really has been all encompassing and despite the immense pressure we’ve faced at times, I’m still loving every second!
So the past two weeks I’ve finally managed to catch up on some much needed SHARPja work which I’ve felt very out of the loop with since the madness of COVID-19 ensued, but with counterparts and colleagues across the Europe also being in a similar boat, I feel like we’re all still making progress just not at the level we would have been in a coronavirus free reality.
By now I would have attended several work package meetings across Europe, met with more of the partners face to face and have produced lots of lovely materials to share our work with the world. But alas that is not the case and now I have the exciting task of finding new ways to communicate our work, identify new opportunities that have been created by this most terrible of disruptions and most importantly stay motivated and stay focused on the long term goals of the project!
Back in the land of COVID-19 it’s been a very assuring week. We launched the third sector stakeholder update which is allowing us to work closer with organisations across Wales to ensure key messages are getting through to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
My first big surprise putting this together was just how many I was able to reel off the top of my head, including the exact people I needed to contact. The third sector in Wales is a beautifully small world and in times like this I am so grateful for its impact, its resilience and most importantly its willingness to collaborate and create change.
A rather telling surprise was just how many I didn’t know of, many of which lay far beyond the immediacy of my Cardiff surroundings; this was definitely a learning moment especially in light of talent and the vital work that this has opened my eyes to.
It was also very affirming to see the amazing responses I received to the emails. Having many friends in the sector there was definitely a feeling that they felt out of the loop; worried about the responsibility of finding and filtering through the information that their specific audiences were crying out for. It feels great to be able to fill that gap and ensure that the most up to date and accurate information is making it to the communities that need them the most. It’s also great to be able to hear the feedback from those group and ensure that as we continue to develop our content and our ways of working on this ( because we are all learning and adapting every day) , we do so in the most sustainable, inclusive and efficient way.
It was also great to work with friends at Welsh Gov and WCVA to help provide clarity around the volunteering situation in Wales. It’s been incredible to see the way communities have banded together and supported one another in these uncertain times, but it’s also important to do it in a safe way that doesn’t leave those who are most vulnerable at risk of harm. With so many different groups and organisations out there trying to help it’s important to be able to tell the difference between those offering genuine help and support and those who are sadly using this as an opportunity to scam people out of what little they may have at this time. The safest way to this is to seek support via an official channel, so either through your local CVC or the Volunteering Wales Website. It also means that we need more people to register their volunteering opportunities/ groups on the site to ensure people can access the opportunities that match their skill set and their locality.
It’s also worth noting that there are many roles to choose from, and just because you may not end up volunteering in an NHS setting does in no way mean you are making less of a contribution to the response effort. Every one good thing a person does each day, takes us one step and one day closer to getting through this together as a better society, a more united and caring society we can be proud of.
I was so incredibly proud to see the ‘How Are You Doing?’ Campaign launched. PHW colleagues have worked so incredibly hard on this campaign, put so much time, energy and research into creating a behaviour change and well-being campaigned that is well informed, impactful and user friendly. I was honestly blown away by how sleek, precise and detailed the end results are and I’m so looking forward to seeing it develop over the coming weeks. Please do check it out and share with everyone one you know as there is a wealth of information in there that could really improve the lived experience of those stuck at home and maybe even save a life.
Our well-being, both physically and mentally, is so important and in a time where we are all separated physically, we have to work so much harder to support one another to live the best we can and stay connected.
My read of the week was from Wales Online. Much to my shame as a teenager I was adamant that I would move to London for university never to return (apart from family visits and to collect my baked treats order from my mother). Well several years later, I made the decision to move back and have never been more in love with my welsh heritage. As a choir boy from the valleys I was brought up on welsh choral singing, so it’s not un-ironic that Hiraeth would be the feeling that brought me home to Wales. So after being woken up by the cat early on Saturday morning I found an article about The Mabinogion, a collection of tales about welsh royalty with some additional Arthurian legends thrown in for good measure. Obviously having now ordered the book, what I’m most looking forward to is not only reading the stories and connecting with my heritage, but identifying the actual places that feature in these stories and using that as an adventure map for when we finally make it out of isolation.
We’ve also been busy putting together the Flatten the Curve podcast so be sure to check us out on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your podcasts- and don’t forget to rate and subscribe! So far we’ve discussed everything from the science of it all, to the impact on sports and events, and in this week’s episode what COVID-19 is doing to our politics.
Hope you all l have a wonderful and productive week and thank you for reading.
Stay home. Stay connected. Protect the NHS. Save lives.