Little did I know when I was finalising the Spring Bulletin that my editorial would be written in the middle of a global crisis. The central theme of this edition was to illustrate the fantastic support and help the Society received from the public during our Annual Appeal. Highlighting all the tremendous work carried out by SVP members on the ground during the Christmas period and the continual campaigning by our Social Justice team and committee to the government to help the most vulnerable in society.
Unfortunately, this now all seems like a very distant memory when you look at what has transpired in the last few weeks. We are witnessing the world being turned on its head as the Covid-19 virus sweeps through almost 200 countries and territories, affecting countless lives with the numbers of people infected and those dying increasing daily.
This pandemic has completely changed how we function and interact with each other, where in a very short period of time we have become all too familiar with terms such as ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘stay home, stay safe’. How we currently operate as an organisation has also had to change, bringing various new challenges, which require constant reassessment.
However, amid these challenging and stressful times for everyone, something truly incredible is happening. Something I can only describe as an undeniable emergence of genuine compassion and care, as well as a tremendous sense of solidarity with each other. From all corners of Ireland; young, old, communities, groups, businesses, our government, many have pulled together and offered support to one another wherever they can. To make life just that little bit more tolerable and manageable. For example, many distilleries have shifted their production lines to making hand sanitiser due to huge shortages and donating what they can to our health care providers and charities who run vital services for some of the most vulnerable in our society such as our ten SVP hostels around the country. Vodaphone linking in with the charity Alone to provide 1,000 smart phones to older people in isolation with essential apps for communications. GAA clubs linking up with local community groups and organisations to collect and deliver food or prepare meals for the countless older people and those living alone. Even a simple phone call or funny text from a colleague, family member or friend to bring a smile or sense of camaraderie to everyone in our time of social isolation and need. There are endless examples of people coming together to support one another, it is truly a sight to behold and the words from Louis Armstrong’s song “What a Wonderful World” is on constant replay in my head.
Even in the last two weeks, I have witnessed incredible acts of unity, and I stand in awe of my many work colleagues and the countless SVP volunteers as they go way above and beyond what is required or asked of them. All are working cohesively, stepping up where needed. I can honestly say I am so honoured to work with so many amazing people and to be able to support our dedicated, selfless volunteers who at times put their own safety at risk to help other people. The sense of unity between us all is apparent and stark, and unfortunately, something as tragic as this pandemic reminds us of why we do what we do.
I am hoping that reading the Spring edition of the Bulletin, albeit for many, in isolation, there is a sense of pride of being part of what is for me one of the most caring organisations in Ireland.
And if I can finish on what may sound like a bit of a clique, ‘We are in this together and will come out of this together’ and when this is all finished, and it will, we will realise how little we need, how much we actually have and the true value of human connection.