I GENUINELY do not know where to begin.

It’s like waking up in a new place every single day. New rules. New information. New schedules. New worries.

I’ve learned over the years to cope differently with being overwhelmed – there were times when I used to hide from the information bombardment, thinking that the best way to protect myself was to avoid the technology that makes avoiding the news so incredibly difficult. But those days have passed. I’ve seen the impact of switching off and I’ve seen the impact of leaning into the chaos. It isn’t that I don’t like sitting still and waiting, it’s that we can’t. So now we rally.

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Over the past week the team at Refuweegee, made up of staff, volunteers and partners in both the business sense and in the relationship sense, have come together and built. During normal days – or more accurately 
non-Covid-19 days – we work with one of Glasgow’s most vulnerable groups of people. We support people with a simple welcome or with more critical support like prams and pushchairs, mobile phones and clothing. We spend a lot of time bringing people together ... and when that is no longer possible the realisation that people are about to be even more isolated than they were previously hits hard.

The people that we work with have already been through the hugely traumatic experience of being forcibly displaced. They have often made horrendous journeys and stayed in places along the way that we quite simply cannot even imagine. Whilst people’s arrival in Scotland is often happy in the sense of feeling safer, it is certainly not simple in regard to access to safe housing, information and a basic income. People are very often isolated and made increasingly vulnerable through information poverty.

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So when something like coronavirus happens it hits people hard. Not in the health sense – we’ll likely never get a real sense of those figures because they aren’t and won’t be a priority. It hits hard because people don’t have access to the information that they need. It is the same for so many of our most isolated and ignored people. Whether the isolation is due to a complete disregard from those in power or the fact that information isn’t available in their first language, the fact remains that it is intentional, unacceptable and easily preventable.

In under a week we have community groups, neighbours and social media pages rallying together to ensure that no-one is without during whatever it is that we have ahead of us. We have spaces being opened up so that those who were previously sleeping on mats on a floor next to each other can effectively social distance themselves; we have volunteers briefed in zero-contact deliveries; we have foodbanks opening up their stock rooms because their volunteers are usually elderly and can no longer risk being outdoors; we have restaurants, cafes and pubs opening up their stock rooms, their kitchens and their staff to make sure that people who don’t have kitchen spaces still have hot meals and those that do have those spaces have fresh produce; and we have businesses offering their teams of staff and individuals offering their support not just to the third-sector organisations, but also to the NHS. People are ready to do whatever they can to get us through this. 

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In times of crisis people come together in ways that we can often only dream of during the intentionally designed capitalistic nature of most people’s ordinary lives. 

Whatever it is that lies ahead of us all there are things that we can do that will not only enrich the lives of those that need it most but that will also enrich the lives of those who recognise their privilege and their ability to use it for something worthwhile.

You can find out further information about Refuweegee’s support of EVERYONE during the current pandemic at www.refuweegee.co.uk