1 year ago today Bristol had its 1st confirmed case of Covid-19…not an anniversary I’d ever thought would happen and what a year it’s been.
A Covid-coaster. That’s just one of the new words someone told me, and what a ride it’s been, from that initial I must rise to the challenge, & ensure I’m doing my bit, then the utter, paralysing fear when you think you may have it or get that call that tells you that you have been in contact with someone who tested positive, the initial numbness that swiftly turns to panic & fear. How can I self isolate for 2 weeks? I’ve no food, if I don’t work i don’t get paid, I got no one to do the shopping, what if I get so ill i can’t look after my son, who would look after him…? Then a knock at the door and a delivery of a care package arrives, someone I now call a dear friend but at the time was just a work associate went online & arranged for this beautiful surprise! But then tainted by someone posting on my Facebook page that I was a liar and seen that I’d had food delivered so how could I possibly be struggling. Someone yells at me, spitting with fury because I’d parked in a units space that’s closed for lockdown.
That happened at the end of last March. All my freelance worked lost over night! The realisation that I don’t fit any of the criteria, not been self employed long enough to get any help.
Then the highlights, the absolutely mind blowing generosity of strangers. In 2 days Bristol City Council had literally 1000’s of people registering to help. Streets united, WhatsApp groups were formed, the homeless were taken off the streets, in just 2 days nearly all of the 400 living on the streets in Bristol were safe in B&B’s & hotels.
Pubs like The Plough in Easton started delivering food boxes & the landlord, Angelo Campolucci Bordi, decided to buy fruit and vegetables for his staff. Now, up to 800 boxes are being delivered each week across Bristol. The scheme began in March 2020 when a group of independent community pubs – the Plough Inn, the Pipe and Slippers, the Lion, and the The Star and Garter – came together. With support from the local community, festival and events company Team Love, and the Easton Cowgirls and Cowboys Sports and Social Club, the team planned to tackle food poverty in Bristol and ensure that those who were self-isolating had access to healthy food. The guys from Boomtown got together 100’s of independents volunteering to do deliveries.
The kindness of strangers…
And then on May 25th George Floyd was brutally murdered by police officers in Minnesota & not for the first time I watched someone die in front of my eyes, unable to do anything….a necessary scar? Some would rightly call it trauma porn & the constant repeating of the clip being played over & over on the news & social media causing outrage, anger & fear across the world. Then on 7th June a group of 5 school leavers, Zahra, Liza, Tiffany, Clayton & Sam, against all odds organised a protest that will go down in the history books of Bristol. Unknown to them, whilst the speeches were taking place at Castle Park a group of people had come prepared, with climbing shoes & ropes. I witnessed as they unveiled their carefully considered plan, they climbed the statue of the slave trader, Edward Colston, tied ropes, cleared the crowd and with the planning paying off, a couple of gentle tugs and the statue came toppling down.
The scene that followed is one I will never forget, the speeches on the now empty plinth…the rolling of the statue and dumping it to join the 10,000’s of enslaved Africans that lost their lives when trafficked across the ocean.
And it didn’t end there, the conversations, debates & discussions continued. More protests, more events…will this be a moment or a movement? Only time can tell.
So here we are 1 year later after the 1st case of Covid-19 confirmed in Bristol.
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