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The acts of kindness and love in the face of coronavirus that give me hope

By Christa Ackroyd - Today while writing this column I cried. I am not looking for sympathy.

There are many worse off than we are. And anyway there is nothing wrong with being sad or scared. You wouldn’t be normal if you weren’t.

Shall I tell you what prompted my tears to flow? It’s pathetic really, but I cried watching Ronan Keating and Gary Barlow singing Baby Can I Hold You Tonight on an internet post. I cried because there are so many people who need holding today, tonight and in the days to come. And we can’t physically hold anyone any more until this nightmare is over.

I cried when my grandchildren who are on the end of a video link at least twice a day, showed me the buns they have made me for Mother’s Day which they promised to drop off on the doorstep tomorrow as we start our lockdown, having been advised to do so not because we have the virus but because of my husband’s serious health issues.

I also cried because next week I planned to scatter my late mum’s ashes at her favourite place on the North York Moors on what would have been her 93rd birthday. But I can hear her saying to me now: “There will be another time.”

Because it will be over. We will come through this. And until we do we need to use our understandable fear for the future to press the reset button on our lives. We will survive this as a nation, and when we come out the other side, perhaps we will have reflected on what is important and what is not. And that is our health, our families and our friends. And my genuine belief that people are inherently good and kind. Or most are. Unless you have your cupboards stuffed full of toilet roll and pasta.

Last week in this column I called for the Dunkirk spirit to be rekindled, for an end to the ‘me, me’ culture that appeared to be spreading as fast as this horrible virus. I needn’t have worried. Many people may be self-isolating but the kindness and yes, the love, that is out there is insuring they are not alone. Even if they have been advised to be so physically.

So here are just a few of the things happening in my little world that gave me hope for humanity. You will have heard of many more. Let us dwell on that. Firstly, last week, I should have been hosting the Yorkshire Choice awards with 850 people in attendance.

It was cancelled along with our fundraiser for the Leeds Homeless Street Angels which should have been tonight. So what did they do? Yorkshire Choice turned what would have been wasted food into soup for those in need. And the Leeds Homeless Street Angels delivered food parcels to families whose cupboards were bare.

The local store in my old village of Bradshaw began free deliveries to those in isolation, as did my friends at Cannon Hall farm in Barnsley. Two local taxi firms offered their services to the elderly without charge. And in Wilsden near Bradford local schoolchildren pledged their free time to making surprise shoeboxes full of handmade food, paintings and cards to cheer up their pensioner neighbours.

On a smaller scale a friend whose autistic son is showing all the symptoms of coronavirus ran out of paracetamol. At 5am she had plenty on her doorstep. One elderly lady was determined to exercise herself and her little dog, so she got up at 3am and went to a deserted park.

People called on their neighbours with phone numbers or cards to put in their windows if they needed help. In South Yorkshire, one pub landlady was overwhelmed when her staff offered to work decorating and cleaning for free ready for the grand reopening, whenever that may be.

Friends rang and arranged virtual keep-fit classes. I have joined an online art class. Others are in choirs. I have even promised myself to clear out the cupboard under the stairs, (though miracles may take a little longer). I have started to re-learn the piano, badly. Though my favourite virtual date is next Friday when we will all meet up on the net for cocktail hour. Bring on the gin. We deserve it. And we will be better communities because of it.

So until this is all over let us be thankful for food in the freezer, a roof over our heads and the chance to do something for those who are not so fortunate. Let us follow the advice from those we pay to know best and support those who are worried about where their next meal is coming from.

We will rise because we have to. Because we come from a generation when our parents or grandparents didn’t take life for granted. When nothing was certain. This is our war. And, so far, thousands have stepped up to be counted when it matters.

Of course life may never be the same again. And so it shouldn’t be if we have learned the valuable lessons this crisis should have taught us. That there are people much worse off than ourselves. That kindness costs nothing. And instead of moaning we must try against the odds to keep smiling.

It is okay to cry too. Sometimes what we face seems never ending and overwhelming. And sadly, as we know, there are those who will lose people they love along the way.

But let us save our sympathy for them, not ourselves.

The vast majority of us will come through this. Until then much love. Take care. Big virtual hugs. I will see you in person on the other side, God willing. Until then Yorkshire, I am proud of you. I knew we could count on each other.

And when we can hold each other tight, to my loved ones, prepare to be squeezed until you beg me to stop. I never want to let you go again. Until then I will hold you in my heart.


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