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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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What defines us is how well we rise after falling

This opinion piece is almost 3 years old

Martin Dorchester reflects on the coronavirus crisis and believes we must value what matters most to us at this time

“Your life will get better, maybe not today or tomorrow, or next week but it will get better eventually.”

I have always liked quotes, sayings and how wonderful wordsmiths can capture and articulate what people are feeling so adeptly. Me, I struggle with that. I am a passionate speaker; if you meet me you can see that I believe in what I am saying and sometimes I get carried away with that!

So, I am sat at home writing this reflection. I am here with my wife and not my children, not just because they have their own homes, but because my wife and I fall into the high risk category for Covid-19. Who would ever have thought two boring mid-50 year olds would ever be at risk by seeing their own children? This is something I am struggling with and has led me to reflect on the challenge of what is happening, especially in regards to my fundamental beliefs:

Fundamental belief 1: I believe we need human and social contact. Whilst hearing that broadband and internet connectivity are now as necessary as water and that we can do everything online, I worry. At the moment, we are in the eye of the storm and the internet appears to be the answer to everything; it isn’t. It is a method of communication and, at this moment in time, perhaps the safest one. But, we must not lose site of the need for human contact, especially with people we love and with people who need us. Just because face-to-face interaction is being restricted doesn’t mean it is being replaced. When these measures are lifted I believe we will need to have human, face-to-face contact even more. We will need to help people, physically and mentally, to come through this and a lot of that work cannot be done online, nor should it.

Fundamental belief 2: I believe rushed legislation is often poor legislation. I find myself concerned that governments are rushing legislation through, such as the Coronavirus Bill, and I worry about the duration of powers that governments then ask for. Significant legislation needs thorough scrutiny, not just by parliamentarians but by the people who it will impact and the general public. The Scottish Government has already had to back down from its amendment to the Coronavirus Bill to bring in jury-less trials following vocal opposition from legal institutions.

Martin Dorchester
Martin Dorchester

Fundamental belief 3: I believe people are fundamentally good and, given the chance, will do the right thing. It is early days in regards to the current pandemic but the reality of an entire nation joining together to clap for our NHS, the 20,000 volunteers in Scotland alone, and the resilience of the third and public sectors who carry on in the face of it, is just amazing to see. We may have had many years of the cult of individualism but we are, at our core, a community. When we work together and support each other we achieve the most amazing outcomes. Seeing this played out on a global scale is amazing and makes me proud of who we truly are.

Fundamental belief 4: I believe in learning not blaming. It is hard to read some of the press, some of sai to blame, we seek to take positions and we treat difficult, nuanced challenges in such a binary way. If something is unprecedented, why would we think the answer will be easy or obvious? In situations like this, it is imperative that we work together to solve the problems we face. Let us get through this and then revisit the lessons we learned.

Finally, every generation has reason to believe that it is living in a period of historical challenges. Whether it is wars, pandemics or natural disasters, humanity has been tried and tested during many periods of crisis. Let us have hope, faith, the ability to learn from this experience, and to truly appreciate what is most important to us.

Martin Dorchester is chief executive of Includem



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