Even as covid restrictions have eased in much of the Western world, many of us are finding it more and more difficult to see those who once would have been a part of our daily lives. Workplaces and places of education are becoming more set up for remote work and learning – which can be great for many people, as geographical, time and even accessibility constraints are removed. Some are still cautious about meeting other people in a social setting, and in many parts of the world, strict rules remain in place prohibiting socialising. So how then are we supposed to stay in contact with existing networks, and particularly forge new ones; an important part of developing as a person?
The problem is not a new one: for well over a century, traditional, local communities have lost their younger members as industrialisation made it necessary for them to move to large cities, in order to find work. American influence in the 20th century, and particularly economic policies such as those endorsed by Reagan in the USA and Thatcher in the UK, have stressed individualism – the idea that people should value independence and self-reliance above all else. The past 30 years has also seen the rise of the internet – which, despite connecting people all over the world, has been correlated with soaring levels of loneliness and has led to a generation of young people who go out less than their parents did.
Strangely enough though, whilst being more isolated than at any time in living memory, many of us have felt a real upsurge in community spirit. Neighbours spoke, often for the first time, and people went out of their way to help one another – be that by fetching some shopping for someone who was vulnerable and isolating, volunteering or even simply by making more time to call loved ones. Everyone and their dog downloaded Zoom and, here in the UK, our postal system ran a delayed service for several months, due to the volume of post and parcels we were sending one another.
Personally, I’ve really enjoyed the community spirit of the past 18 months. As I’m sitting here writing this, my next-door neighbours have thoughtfully delivered a box of chocolates to make the ten-day isolation that my partner and I are currently undergoing more manageable. Prior to covid, I didn’t even know their names. I’ve also actively sought out like-minded groups – joining one that focuses on environmentalism as well as a local sports team. For the first time since I moved to London, I feel as though I’m part of a real network as I come to recognise and speak to more and more people who live in the local area.
Community is one of the main reasons I initially reached out to Stillpoint too – and why I’ve ended up working here. After months of furlough with plenty of time to think about what it is that I wanted from work, I realised it was something more than simply showing up each day in order to pay the bills. I’ve long been interested in psychology and wellbeing, and I loved Stillpoint’s mission to bring psychology to the public sphere, through events, courses and their new online community. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the growth of that community to well over 1000 members, from all over the world, from practitioners to students to people who are simply interested in psychology.
Over recent months, our mission has been to expand the community further, providing more opportunities for our members to learn and connect. This July, we launched a Professional Membership, which allows members to connect more easily with a professional profile and free access to our events and regular intervision sessions. Members are also able to set up interest groups of their own.
What we do next, though, is up to you. Come and join our ranks, if you haven’t already. Sign up for free and you too can take part in debates and discussions about all things psychology, and meet others who may support you or challenge your way of thinking. Get in touch with Stillpoint staff members and let us know what kinds of events and courses you want to see. Above all, I’m asking you to connect and explore with us; to come be a part of our psychologically curious community.
Alex Grunnill works for Stillpoint, and is based in London, UK. She is passionate about psychology, travelling, sustainability and linguistics. She hopes eventually to train as a psychotherapist. You can find her on Linked In.