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Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic: Poems, artwork and reflections by children and adults

Writing.ie | Magazine | General Interest | Interviews | Non-Fiction | Poets
Living During Covid

By Tanya Leverington

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In years to come, how will we look back and reflect on the events of 2020? How will the new and future generations learn about this time in our social history? We can all learn facts and figures, review the news reports and headlines, and watch the re-runs of speeches that were broadcasted on TV. These will be written in the new history books, maybe taught in schools, but long after this time has passed where will we learn about the impact of the pandemic, and the strength, resilience and hope that carried us through to the other side?

The Covid-19 pandemic brought together a new community, forged by social media providing an important platform for people in all areas of society to find a way to deal with the uncertainty and disruption to our lives. Facebook erupted with the formation of new Lockdown groups, with millions of people joining a virtual community to help each other by sharing tips, ideas, activities and experiences.

Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic is an anthology crafted by a group of dedicated volunteers who wanted to share the voices of this new nationwide lock down community. The children, teenagers, mothers, fathers, keyworkers, adults with a learning disability and the older generation that are living during the pandemic, have now been given a published platform to share their experiences and impressions of hope, grief, fear, joy, accomplishment and struggle; to unite and support others in these unprecedented times, so that we know we are not alone.

Not only does the collection include powerful first-hand reflections from front line NHS workers and keyworkers, but celebrated in its pages include emotive artwork, poetry and prose created by children and adults, to give a truly genuine and heartfelt insight from across the nation, young and old. With no person left untouched by the pandemic in one way or another, this beautiful, soulful and entirely authentic book is a piece of our social history. A true glimpse into life at this time, and the power of expression to help us get through.

This wonderful book began life as a single idea – to document the voice of the community who were sharing their experiences, writings and artwork over social media. Terrie Grinham, compelled by the positive impact these posts were having, had the idea to create a book in which this overwhelming community spirit could be recorded. From there, the idea attracted a small, dedicated team of people, with whom this project deeply resonated, to help. Águeda Moreno Lopez coordinated the project, and Fiona Burns and Jules Cook provided invaluable assistance and contribution. I illustrated and helped to format the book, and Tom Chalmers, with encouragement and advice, has generously published it.

But it was more than just a record, more than a way for this new community to be connected to each other, this project was to be dedicated to supporting the NHS, and with its publication the team’s vision to raise much needed funds has now come to fruition.

With an abundance of submissions that were being sent in, it became clear that this was something the community wanted to be a part of, something it needed. Together, Terrie, Águeda, Fiona and Jules began taking on different roles and responsibilities playing to their strengths and experience. Terrie and Águeda lead the team and directed this project, feeling a deep connection to the NHS Trusts with which they work, and the determination to support them. Feeling a connection to each author’s submission, my role was to bring imagery and shape to the pages, with Tom on hand throughout the process to help guide us. This project became a labour of love, each volunteer employing their personal attributes and professional skills with dedication and drive. It was a long process, every individual piece that was submitted was read, reviewed and considered. Each one given the careful and meaningful deliberation it deserved. The most striking realisation for the team was the joy and excitement that this project inspired in the authors, with the most pleasure being the elated replies from the authors whose work was shortlisted for inclusion.

That said, it was not without its hardships. I am sure that we all underestimated just how much time we would need to dedicate to the project, and the reorganisation of our personal lives to accommodate it. There was no way to forecast the intensity of emotions that came with this project. Certainly, there was no way to predict that alongside the pride and sense of achievement we felt as we reached each milestone and completed another task, we would also come to feel a great sense of loss and grief as we mourned the unexpected passing of Fiona Burns. But every time we experienced a personal difficulty, we were always supported by the respect and appreciation of the rest of the team… a team who were mostly unknown to each other at the beginning, having forged a connection to each other that will stay with us for always. We remained focused and driven by the encouragement and gratitude of the authors, and our own family and friends, and the way the experiences mirrored our own lives in our own very personal way. And the project had a strange way of bringing something new and uplifting every time we started to feel the strain. I speak for all of the team when I say that we all learned so much from this project, both in the new skills we picked up along the way, and in what we have discovered about our personal and the community’s ability to grow, adapt and inspire others. We are all immensely grateful for the opportunity to create this book, and the experiences we have shared.

100% of the proceeds from every sale of this beautiful book and the funds raised through our Just Giving page will all be donated to NHS Charities Together. The reward for the community is truly immeasurable.

(c) Tanya Leverington

Fine Artist and Illustrator. www.tanyalart.co.uk

The Volunteers:

Terrie Grinham, Healthcare Assistant in Haywards Heath part of The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Águeda Moreno Lopez, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

Dr Fiona Burns, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

Jules Cooke, Circus Teacher and Youth Support Worker.

Tanya Leverington, Fine Artist and Illustrator. www.tanyalart.co.uk

Tom Chalmers, Founder and Managing Director, Legend Times. www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk

About Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic:

A powerful collection of poems, artwork and prose about life during the pandemic has been curated by a group of volunteers with 100% of proceeds donated to NHS Charities Together. Legend Times has supported the project and will publish Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic on 30th November 2020.

This beautiful project is the brainchild of Terrie Grinham, who is part of the Haywards Heath Community Team run by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, and was inspired by the wonderful posts on a Facebook group at the beginning of the first COVID-19 lockdown. The project came together thanks to a committed group of volunteers: Terrie, Agueda Moreno-Lopez, Fiona Burns, Jules Cooke, and illustrator Tanya Leverington, who designed the front cover and created stunning illustrations throughout the book.

The book brings together the work of adults and children, which were submitted digitally after a call for submissions across social media. The pieces included in the collection reflect the contributor’s personal journey of living during the coronavirus pandemic, many of whom specifically reflect on their experience of coping with lockdown individually, or as a family, and the impact on their life and wellbeing. Little by little this project grew from a book of poems written by adults, to a melting pot of stunning and touching artwork, inspiring short stories and beautiful poems written by children (youngest aged 4), young people and adults.

The collection also includes powerful first-hand accounts and reflections written by front line NHS workers and keyworkers, including a GP’s diary of her experience working during lockdown, accounts by a pharmacist, a nurse, paramedic, children’s home staff and beautiful co-produced artwork by adults with learning disabilities and their support staff.

Dr Agueda Moreno Lopez who works as a Senior Clinical Psychologist at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) and volunteered in this fundraising project as a Project Coordinator commented: ‘I think the most powerful part of this book is its authenticity and diversity united by a common thread of hope and resilience running through the pages of the book regardless of age, gender, ability or ethnicity differences… I think this book has soul, one story narrated by over a hundred different voices whose journeys during this pandemic have been shaped by each person’s own circumstances.’

The book is dedicated to Dr Fiona Burns, a well-respected senior clinical psychologist at KMPT who worked closely on the project in the latter stages, and who sadly suddenly passed away two months ago.

Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic is published in hardback, RRP: 18.99 and ebook, RRP £12.99 and is available to pre-order. Donations can also be made to NHS Together at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nhscharitybook

Order your copy online here.

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