A couple of weeks ago I experienced a high fever, muscle ache, a new dry cough, nearly all of the symptoms to suggest I had a case of Covid­19 with ‘mild symptoms’. So following the Government advice, I battened down the hatches and self­-isolated in my flat for 7 days.

Having now lived as a Northerner in Southwark, South of the river in London, for 4 years, I have become accustomed to London’s stereotypically ‘unfriendly’ ways. If you dare to even smile at someone on the Tube you can expect your fellow commuters to slowly back away from you, fearing for your sanity! Let alone striking up small talk with strangers ­ that’s a no go.

However as the cloud of Covid­19 spread across the city something strange happened.

Within a couple of days of lockdown, my neighbours in my block of flats had set up a ‘WhatsApp’ group chat so we could communicate with each other and lend-a­-hand to anyone in need. In the typical London way, I barely even knew my neighbours’ names beforehand. Rosie from flat 2 kindly went to the supermarket for me and dropped the groceries at my door while I was in isolation and couldn’t go outside. I had texts and phone calls from all sorts of friends, family and colleagues offering help and comfort. I received a leaflet in the post from a group of local volunteers offering help with shopping and other tasks for people isolating. A very big city suddenly felt a lot smaller.

After 3 days in bed, I started to feel brighter, and thankfully by day 5 I felt back to normal. After completing my 7 days of self­-isolation, I ventured outside for a walk in my local park, a simple pleasure I have never looked forward to so much as on this occasion. As I walked around the park everyone was following the Government advice and keeping a 2m distance however… people were smiling at each other, saying hello and giving each other a look of ‘we’re all in this together’.

I’m glad I was able to return the favour to some neighbours and friends who in turn were self­-isolating, with simple tasks such as taking their bin bags out to the bins, delivering fresh milk and groceries, dropping off medicines and even just phoning to check they were doing ok.

These actions may seem small and are taken for granted in closer­-knit communities, but this was ‘society’ as I had never experienced in London and definitely provided a silver lining to otherwise difficult times. I know the same and more will be happening back at home in the St Anne’s Tottington community.

by Zoe Jackson