With social distancing the key to stopping the spread of Coronavirus, the world is facing an unprecedented period of isolation. In order to combat feelings of loneliness, the Inside Government team share innovative ways they have connected with friends and maintained a healthy state of mind.
Lauren Powell, Portfolio Lead – Schools, Criminal Justice
I have done an array of things to tackle social isolation. In terms of work, last week I attended a really well-run virtual conference, which included structured networking. It really opened up my mind to the power of technology and how it can help us through this time. Over the weekend, I re-arranged a few coffee shop catch-ups with friends to Skype calls with a cuppa instead and, as a family, we streamed a virtual gig that a local band were playing from home.
Sharing and reading non-COIVD-19 related articles in group chats is helping to keep me sane. I’ve also taken up running again to get some fresh air and exercise – of course only along a deserted track where I’m highly unlikely to come into contact with anyone! I appreciate this is much easier to do now that I’m working from home in Wales…
Ruaidhrí Carroll, Content Executive
On Friday, my partner was displaying some symptoms of Coronavirus and needed to self-isolate. I was disappointed but I was determined not to let quarantine completely spoil our weekend. We had planned to watch Beetlejuice, the 1988 cult-classic film directed by Tim Burton and starring the likes of Winona Ryder and Alec Baldwin. Keen not to be undone by these bizarre circumstances of social-isolation, we decided that even if we couldn’t watch it side by side, there was no reason we shouldn’t still watch it together.
We decided to try out the Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome, which has quickly captured the zeitgeist of quarantine Britain. It’s a far cry from settling down next to your significant other but, in the absence of real human contact, there are certainly worse ways to spend some time in isolation – and we found that if you can manage to get a video call going on another screen, you can even enjoy a half-decent reaction video at the same time.
Next up: The Great Escape to make the most of quarantine with the king of solitary confinement, Steve McQueen.
Olivia Jewell, Marketing Assistant
Last Friday my university friends and I organised an online pub quiz to try and introduce a sense of normality into our weekend plans. This proved a great way of keeping in touch and confirming that we can still have fun, even if it is remotely! Each of us were tasked with writing one round each of the quiz; these included the classic sports and music rounds, but also a round about our university, guess who said the sentence from our group chat, and two truths one lie from each player! To complete the pub quiz atmosphere, we of course each had a drink in hand.
I would highly recommend getting your friends together to do this or something similar, as we all felt so much better for socialising together and providing each other with some light-hearted entertainment.
Elin Sams, Programme Manager
The main way I have kept myself in a good headspace during this pandemic is by getting away to a new environment. Staying at my partner’s parents’ house, away from the space I usually come home to every night, has helped me relieve stress because it’s almost like being on holiday after 5pm…. They also have cuddly, needy dogs who always love sitting on my lap and help me release those sweet sweet endorphins!
Steve Everett, Head of Inside Government
I have recently moved and have a 96-year-old neighbour who has been self-isolating since the outbreak of Covid-19. I know how difficult this time must be for her, so when I began working from home I put my number through her letterbox and told her to let me know if she needs anything. At the moment I haven’t met her, but I’ve dropped off some soap and toilet paper as she requested and speak to her on the phone daily. She is very keen to meet up soon, so I hope that once I know I’m all clear I can pop round for daily chats to keep her company.
Rachel Crisp, Marketing Manager
I’ve recently downloaded the Houseparty App, which makes video calling all the more fun with the addition of quizzes and games. I’ve recently been on this with groups of friends for hours, and it really helped to have an app that allowed more than just to sit in front of the camera and talk about our days in isolation apart from each other.
I’ve also got some social Skype calls planned for later in the week. In fact I’d almost say my virtual calendar looks busier than my social one ever used to! It is amazing what having a beer, glass of wine or even a cup of tea in front of your computer screen can do to make you feel more positive in what truly is a very uncertain time.
Tim Durden, Head of Content
The main way I have been dealing with social isolation is by learning a few new skills. So, for example this week I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and have recently made noodles and a Massaman Curry for the first time. The recipe can be found here: Massaman Curry Recipe
And I haven't been the only one learning new skills. I have been trying to teach my dog, Amber, how to fetch a tennis ball every morning over a cup of coffee, which at the age of 14 is proving to be remarkably difficult! Here she is during happier times on the beach.
Finally, top TV programme recommendation: Tiger King on Netflix!