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Communities in lockdown case study: Kate, living in Edinburgh

Kate is currently living in Edinburgh, but is originally from the USA – where many of her friends and family still live. For Kate, lockdown has brought out a sense of local community spirit, but it has also encouraged more regular communication with loved ones across the ocean.

We spoke to Kate to find out how the pandemic has impacted her everyday life, from virtual music jams to personal reflection. At the time this interview took place, Scotland was still in full lockdown.

“I’ve definitely noticed more of a community spirit amongst folks in my neighbourhood during lockdown.” Kate says. “With more people taking our government-approved exercise daily, you start to recognise people on your walks. We may not always stop to chat – especially as Scotland is still locked down harder than England – but we smile and nod and get to know each other’s routines.”

“I have to say, there’s nothing for lifting your spirit in lockdown like knowing you’re going to see the same lady with her new puppy walking in the park every day around the same time you go!”

Communities across the UK, and across Europe, report an increased sense of togetherness that has arisen during the surreal and unexpected events of the year so far. Though not universal, it has proven common for people to seek new connections with neighbours, whether virtually or in the real world.

For those living outside their country of origin, lockdown has been a mixed bag: some are finding the distance harder than usual, while others are finding they have more frequent contact with the people they love.

“Quite a lot of my family and many friends live in the USA, and I’ve been making even more of an effort to keep up with them by WhatsApp and Zoom.” Kate adds. “Before, we all just assumed we’d see each other once or twice a year, and we chatted when time allowed. With travel bans, and with travel feeling scary even when the bans eventually lift, I’ve made a real effort to stay more connected. With dear friends in the middle of the New York hotspot, it’s been extra-important [for] me to connect and maintain that sense of connection and community.”

That connection isn’t just in the form of text messages and plain old video chats, though. With leisure facilities and nightlife venues closed, Kate, like many of us, has been finding ways to recreate plenty of real-world social activities with friends.

“We’ve done virtual happy hours, learned how to play card games online, and even had a music jam session once. I honestly do feel more connected to a lot of my friends abroad than I have in ages – mostly because we’re no longer taking those connections for granted.”

During working hours, Kate is a work and well-being psychologist, so the mental health implications of lockdown are something she doesn’t overlook. But for her, the lockdown has brought about a period of reflection, and she goes on to say that “I think nearly everyone can agree right now that we’re having to reassess our priorities, and community and connectedness are coming out much higher on the values scale than we might have thought before.”

To find out more about how people all over the world have been coming together in recent months, and how PagoFX have been helping to support individuals and good causes around the globe, take a look at our Communities in Lockdown Report.

Kate Sullivan is a Consulting Psychologist at Constellation Careers.