I joined Genesis Trust in early 2020 and then lockdown happened two months later. The following eighteen months have been extraordinary with many challenges, but also many more opportunities.

We, like many charities, continued to operate over this period, supporting vulnerable people and those in need across the Bath area.  For many the need has been significant whether it was emotional, relational or financial. The important factor for us was to be present and available.

People who walk through our door, whether they are there to collect a food parcel, have a shower, attend the Life Course or, for example, take part in Art Therapy, need and deserve to be treated with compassion, to be listened to and be heard, validated, made to feel safe and to be loved. Only then can a connection begin allowing trust to be built, vulnerabilities to be shown and their true situation explored.

I read a story once about women who washed their clothes together down by the river.  When they all got washing machines, there was an outbreak of depression.  It wasn’t the washing machines that caused their depression (obviously), it was the lack of time spent doing things together.  It was the absence of their community, the absence of social connection.

I see this every day. People’s loneliness and isolation can result in a general loss of social connectedness. When people are trying to escape the pain their wound has caused, they often become disconnected from themselves.  While numbing the painful emotions, they end up numbing the positive ones too and are unable to grow emotionally or spiritually.  They become stuck.

I think for many people the pandemic has magnified this feeling of social disconnection.  Being alone goes against our basic need, our sense of belonging.  Often the alternative is seeking substances to keep that feeling at bay.  Being lonely not only affects our mental health, but our physical health too.  Studies show that being lonely affects the length of our life expectancy akin to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.  Being connected is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

I am thankful that we were able to continue our face-to-face therapeutic activities for people to make those social connections.

I am thankful to our team who support and care so deeply for each person that comes to Genesis.  We provide support groups, 1:1 sessions and longer appointments during our drop-in times.  This ensures that we recognise our visitors’ feelings, provide safety and build relationships, encouraging our visitors to reconnect with themselves, because it is only then that healing can begin which then allows growth and development both spiritually and emotionally.

I am thankful to Genesis Trust who recognised my desire and gifting to work directly with clients and diverted my initial application for an administrative role.  And most of all I am thankful to God who each day brings renewed hope.