'Covid has caused unimaginable suffering - but it has also brought us closer together'

Hospice nurse in bright blue uniform

Vicky Bartlett in a picture taken before current lockdown restrictions - Credit: Rowcroft

The COVID crisis has caused unimaginable suffering, fear and uncertainty around the world, but it has also brought out the very best in humanity.

People have to come together and supported each other in ways not seen since World War II.

Kindness is prevailing in all parts of the globe – communities are coming together to support each other and to protect the most vulnerable, and it is these heartfelt acts of compassion that are keeping us going.

Vicky Bartlett, Deputy Director of Patient Care for Rowcroft Hospice, explains how even the smallest gestures of kindness can create a remarkable impact.

She says: “The pandemic has wrought havoc on our communities; it has turned our worlds upside down, causing unbelievable pain, hardship and - in many cases – loss.

"Throughout all this, I have been moved by the incredible kindness that people have shown and are continuing to show, as they go to great lengths to support and care for each other. This social support has become more important than ever during this challenging time.

“In many ways, the pandemic is bringing out the best in people. I’m so inspired and reassured to see people giving so selflessly in so many ways, whether it’s delivering shopping to an elderly resident, collecting a prescription for a shielding neighbour, or walking a dog for an owner who’s self-isolating.

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"We are proving that, even during the most difficult times, we can all choose to be kind to help others and to brighten other people’s days.

“It’s clear that helping others can also lift our own mood: it makes us feel good about ourselves, helps reduce stress and can improve our overall wellbeing.

“At Rowcroft Hospice, I see first hand how acts of kindness offered by our employees and volunteers are making such a difference for our patients and families.

"This kindness manifests in so many forms. For example, it can be about helping a patient to return home from hospital - as per their wishes - to be cared for in their final days in the loving comfort of home. Or assisting a grieving relative to receive the vital bereavement support that they so desperately need. Or enabling a hospice patient to enjoy precious moments amid the flowers and bird song of Rowcroft’s beautiful garden.

“Kindness doesn’t need to be about big gestures. Even the smallest everyday act, such as paying someone a lovely compliment, offering a few words of comfort, or showing appreciation and gratitude can make all the difference. Kindness costs nothing, but the impact of kindness can be immense.

“Kindness makes us feel part of a wider, connected, inclusive and caring community – a community that values everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

"To me, the measure of strength for any community is reflected in how well we as a community look after our most vulnerable. While there is always more to do, we are proving that even during these tough times of social isolation, we can and will continue to lend a hand and show kindness to people in need.

“And through such acts of kindness, more kindness is kindled. Those who have received kindness then spread kindness to others; those who have offered kindness feel good about themselves and radiate more kindness. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that exudes a spirit of care, compassion and ultimately love. Love that makes the world a happier place.”