As social distancing and self-imposed quarantine became more necessary due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it has left many people more alone than they’ve ever been before.

Social isolation, especially in the elderly, brings with it a higher likelihood of loneliness, depression and psychological and medical risks, such as physical limitations which can impact mobility and their ability to do things by themselves. Many elderly people have felt disconnected living in isolation, and not having connection with others, such as forming friendships, involvement in regular social interaction, etc. Isolation and loneliness have been identified as a major health challenge facing the UK in recent years. COVID-19 and mandatory self-isolation has created a unique situation, with far more people suddenly at risk of experiencing problematic loneliness. Since the lockdown was announced Ekta Unity has had to redesign ways of maintaining meaningful connections with our service users.

Ekta Unity service users have shown a great deal of resilience and positivity during the pandemic and have adapted quickly. Many took up sewing and knitting, whilst indoors and made much needed PPE for local hospitals, care homes, schools and front line medical personnel across the Coventry & Warwickshire region.

Swaran Lota, along with others who volunteered to make the PPE’s said: “Making the scrub bags and face masks has been one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences of our lives. We are so grateful to everyone involved for making it happen. The initiative has given ‘new optimism’ during lockdown. Although we were struggling with the changes to the way of life, it is nice to see what a few weeks of human inaction does to allow nature to recoup and restore”.

Suman Ghaiwal-Chair of Ekta Unity said “Over the past few weeks, we’ve been so inspired by how our service users have pulled together and using the time that they have been in lockdown to good use. It’s a tremendous example of people coming together, something which is a core value of Ekta Unity and underpins our objectives. It’s heartening to see that our service users have helped where they can to try and alleviate the stresses in the system. They have been so generous. I’m absolutely blown away by their commitment and community spirit. We have seen so many messages of thanks from the NHS and care workers, and it is clear that people have providing an extraordinary way of giving something positively at a time when we are otherwise utterly powerless. When our service users decided to offer their services to help – they weren’t just answering a call to action, they were demonstrating the ingenuity of a community determined to help those in need. Hopefully we can learn from this and their impact won’t be forgotten when we return to some sort of normality”.

This is a strange time for the global community – we have never seen our planet more connected while being so distant. It has also never been more important to connect locally, to look after each other, and to play a little part in something big.

Ekta Unity took the decision to close it’s activities at St Paul’s Church Foleshill, Coventry at the end of March 2020, to protect it’s service users, volunteers and trustees. But the charity is resourceful, creative and resilient and continue to offer support to each of their 200+ service users. Ekta Unity’s team of Trustees, Session Workers and Volunteers have been on hand throughout the last 4 months, to provide a listening ear, signposting advice to services and sharing tips and advice on lockdown mental health survival, together with sending out regular ‘Care Packs’ containing various arts & craft activities, knitting, sewing and gardening resources, face masks, and protective gloves. It has been able to provide vital support for it’s service users, including those who are shielding due to their health.

Suman Ghaiwal concluded: “Every service user that we have been in touch with has been incredibly grateful for the help they’ve received. My team will continue to work for them to ensure that everyone has access to the help they need and we will all come out of this crisis together”

Sanjay Jagatia
Ekta Unity