New year message: 'Unity through purpose'

"We want there to be no barriers to local people who are isolated"

"We want there to be no barriers to local people who are isolated" - Credit: Mike Towers

Dear Ham&High readers, we hope you had the best possible festive season, and wish you all the very best for 2021.

At the end of one of the most unique years in human history, Holly Lodge Community Centre (which has existed in one form or another since the flu pandemic of the 1920s) cannot help but celebrate the way in which our community, and those in the surroundings of Highgate and Hampstead, united to tackle a common, yet invisible, challenge.

There was unity through generosity. Local WhatsApp groups set up in hours, full of residents who for months since continue to give away all manner of items to those in need. 

Unity through purpose. Dozens of volunteers, some who'd never volunteered in their lives before, uniting to get people's shopping, collect their prescriptions, post their mail, walk their dogs, and generally lend a listening ear or a (socially distanced) shoulder to cry on.

And unity through understanding. People from all walks of life who grasped the sense of loneliness and isolation caused, or worsened, through lockdowns that ended in tiers, and shielding that limited interaction to phone screens or Zoom.

We thank every one of those people with a gratitude that no words, or even actions, could fully express.

It can be tempting to dwell on those who are only seen to panic-buy. Or the minority who we become conscious of when they object to vaccination. Or those who lack the spatial awareness to keep a safe distance - even when surrounded by the acreage of Hampstead Heath!

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But that is to risk losing track of what is most important - that this virus is patiently and ultimately subdued, if not removed from society - and that a more informed, respectful, charitable normality is what replaces it.  

It is thanks to the united support of all the people mentioned above - including those who we may be tempted to dwell on in a more negative way - that Holly Lodge Community Centre, and many charities like us, can reasonably aim to exist through any future pandemics or events of such magnitude. Unity through generosity, purpose, and understanding.

If you'd like to support our work, please consider donating via our Virgin Moneygiving page.

Thank you.

  • Mike Towers is manager of Holly Lodge Community Centre

READ MORE: Holly Lodge Community Centre hosts Christmas lunches for lonely