What have you missed?

Liz Nicholls

friends

Here we are, a full year after lockdown was announced. Let’s face it, tempers feel a little bit frayed this week, which is natural, really, as we approach the final furlong towards (hopeful) freedom!

So we were wondering… what have you missed most over the last 12 months? Maybe it’s something you took for granted BC (before Covid). That coffee & cake break with workmates… Your routine hair appointment… Saturday sport.

Hospitality

As you know we’re raising a glass to our hospitality heroes with our R&A Good Cheer awards because eating & drinking while supporting our local pubs, restaurants, delicatessens is right up there at the top of our list. Watch this space for news of the winners soon!

Entertainment

Entertainment is another industry we salute, as we remain hopeful of the roadmap to freedom allowing us to enjoy theatre again. As Louise Chantal, co-director of The Oxford Playhouse puts it: “We miss our friends. I think of the scores of youngsters in our 17-25 Young Company, who were in their last week of a year’s preparation for their showcase production when we closed [in March 2020], and our long-standing amateur partners – Oxford Theatre Guild, Oxford Operatics and Opera Oxford – whose yearly extravaganzas at the Playhouse bring together hundreds of local people, from every possible background, to put on a show.

The Oxford Playhouse team, intermittently furloughed and each covering several people’s jobs, transferred all the participation and artist development programmes online (leading the march to digital nationally) and have worked with over 4,500 young people and community group members to ‘stay creative’ during lockdown. “We kept telling stories and supporting artists all through this crazy year,” says Louise.

Check out the Oxford Playhouse co-production of The Picture of Dorian Gray, starring Stephen Fry and Joanna Lumley, and upcoming highlights.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve moved on from what felt like the world’s longest winter to all of the joys of spring

Festivals

With a summer of festivals shelved last spring, the idea of enjoying the pick of the area’s crop of get-togethers this summer feels like a dream… Boomtown near Winchester is tentatively set to go ahead in August, with tickets selling out this month.

“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve moved on from what felt like the world’s longest winter to all of the joys of spring and the collective excitement to reclaim the summer for hugging friends and family and dancing until our shoes fall off…” said the team.

“It’s still a long and rather complicated road to get there, but if we’re allowed to go ahead, words will never be able to fully describe the sheer love and energy that will radiate through this year’s fair.

The team behind Reading (and its northern sister festival Leeds) are also delighted to have sold out all tickets to eager festival-lovers, with Stormzy, Postmalone, Disclosure and Liam Gallagher ready to rock after a quiet year!

So…. what have you missed? Tell us on Twitter and we will be here to celebrate all of these returning joys with you!!!


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Mental health day

Round & About

friends

Look after your emotional well-being and you’ll be looking after your mental health.

That’s the message from the Samaritans today (Thursday, 10th October), World Mental Health Day.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the theme suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life. The organisation is encouraging people to prepare to take “40 seconds of action” to help: improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

“Put simply, this is an opportunity to show you care,” said Chris Lindsay, director of Samaritans of Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot & Districts. “Talking, rather than bottling things up, helps but sometimes, when we are worried about someone, we are not sure how to start the conversation,”

The website Samaritans.org offers “SHUSH” tips on how to be a good listener.

“We would like to get the message across that Samaritans can help people acquire the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point,” said Chris.

Samaritans offers free resources for schools and colleges to incorporate into their emotional health programmes.

The charity also offers Wellbeing in the Workplace. This is an online learning programme which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace.

“It’s okay if you’re not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what’s on their mind. When people feel listened to, it can save a life,” said Chris.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year. The charity provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Call 116 123 (free to call) (UK), email , or visit www.samaritans.org for further details.

YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, is encouraging people to say #HelloYellow today and help raise funds for YoungMinds.

Whether you choose to go for a subtle splash of colour or really turn up the sunshine with head to toe yellow, join in to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health.

Find out more