Welcome to the Worthing Community Chest Covid Diaries; a snapshot of life under lock down in Worthing!

Brought to you in isolation by our Chair, Karl Allison.

Also featured in Here & Now Magazine’s Community Matters column

#WorthingCovidDiaries May 1st 2020: Home Alone

What was the moment that did it for you? What was it that made that tear run down your unshaven cheek or fail to ruin the mascara that you hadn’t bothered to apply?

Was it Captain Tom’s final lap around the garden or your first clap for carers or your neighbour’s thank you notes for the binmen? Most likely, it will have been something apparently insignificant that crept up unseen behind you and opened the floodgates while you were still in your pyjamas. For all the endlessly inventive ways of reinventing hope that our resilient race has recently discovered, there remains the taint of melancholy and reflection. For all that covid-19 may allow us to gain, this is still a time of loss.

For me, the briefly overwhelming moment was the sight of a small diary on the floor of my garage. It’s pretty and pink, with a floral design and a bold white 2020 embossed onto its hardback cover. It’s still in its wrapper; pristine, unsullied and, to date, entirely redundant. Its pages will work for no year but this partly curtailed year. It has no reasonable function beyond it’s appointed time. It is cut down in its prime, missing its one chance of glory, destined now not to be cherished and referred to in the years to come. It is just one more tiny loss, a loss itself lost amongst such greater losses.

Diaries that were fortunate enough to be employed before the lockdown began might, I suppose, still be of some use to their owners. May 3rd: take dog for slightly longer walk. May 4th: post obscure Star Wars comment on facebook. May 5th: reorganise the shoe rack by order of lace length and heel density. Sure, it sounds like industry, but it’s hardly afternoon tea at the Indigo followed by a film at the Dome, is it?

But this poor diary had made it through to lockdown without a single entry. It so nearly had a second chance. It was donated to Plastic Free Worthing’s Clothes Swap event, for that was to also feature books. It might have been spotted amongst the John Grisham paperbacks and the Where’s Wally annuals and someone might have used it to record their lockdown experience. But the Clothes Swap was due to take place on March 15th and was postponed just before it happened but just after the donations had been dropped off at the Boys Club.

That’s how I ended up with the sad little thing. Just before lockdown, I donned long sleeves, several pairs of gloves and the entire contents of a medium-sized bottle of anti-bac spray and transported the whole lot, clothes, shoes, books and one small, pink, still wrapped diary into my garage for safekeeping. The Clothes Swap will happen one day and, who knows, someone might spot that little diary and allow it to fulfil its function, if only for a while.

And maybe it might yet be cherished after all. Maybe someone will cram its later pages full of rescheduled clothes swaps and film premieres and even use it in years to come as a reminder of those strange, blank months when we stayed at home, changed our minds about who counts as a keyworker and occasionally cried into our pyjamas.

To apply for our emergency Covid-19 grants, email grants@thebrandsurgery.online

#WorthingCovidDiaries April 10th 2020: Be More Bond

In more normal times, whatever they are supposed to be, we’ve enjoyed the monthly privilege of a Worthing Community Chest column inside Here & Now being delivered through most of Worthing’s letterboxes. Sadly, it probably won’t be dropping into anybody’s isolated hallways this month, but you can still find it online. Here’s just a little bit of what it says……

“April was going to be such a great month for cinema. The new Bond film, Peter Rabbit 2 and a red carpet premiere in Worthing called Rags to Riches starring some of your neighbours.

I’m not making this up. It was listed on the Dome website for April 28, a film about Worthing scheduled to be shown in one of Britain’s oldest, loveliest and busiest cinemas, with surround sound, air conditioning and popcorn.

This film is so local that it begins with some people going into the Dome to watch the film they’re already in. It’s got cameos from well-known Worthing faces and even some local, independent trader product placement. Short of a safety-conscious car chase along Marine Parade and a plot twist in which the entire trustee team of Worthing Community Chest are revealed to be bloodsucking aliens hiding behind the veneer of transformative grant making, it looks like we’ve thought of everything.

But, just like James Bond, we’ve had to surrender for the time being. Let’s remember that the postponement of events is essentially an act of kindness towards the weakest and most vulnerable members of our society. It is a good thing to be doing. We’ll adapt and we’ll be back. The event is postponed, not cancelled. So don’t delete your 2020 diary just yet. It will be full again soon.”

#WorthingCovidDiaries April 2nd 2020: Doing it for Dorothy

It would be all too easy to get lost in the numbers at the moment. Just about every number we hear is big and getting bigger at a speed we can’t compute. We are not accustomed to bad things spreading exponentially. We spend most of our lives confident that we are exercising at least some degree of control over the things that matter most to us. Now, rather too suddenly for reasonable adjustment, we are faced with spiking infection rates, non-flattening curves and how many people are in front of us in the queue to add apparently essential items to their online supermarket order.

Our attempts at a response might feel slight and even our best intended actions inconsequential. But they aren’t.

So when Worthing Community Chest fired up our trustee whats app group, agreed to relax many of our usual terms and conditions, rolled out an emergency fund aimed at all those brand new neighbourhood response groups and achieved something like a 48 hour turnaround, we would have been thrilled to imagine that our prompt and decisive action played a part in the saving of thousands of lives. But they probably didn’t. Maybe not even hundreds of lives, but that’s OK. In fact, if someone called Dorothy who lives in Durrington feels less alone because someone arrived about two metres from her doorstep with three tins of alphabet spaghetti and a long life rice pudding, then that should be something to be proud of. In the current climate, I wouldn’t even want to put a price on it.

So do what you can. It will make a difference.