Three things you don’t often associate with a global pandemic, right? Well for me, this is exactly what comes to mind when I look back over the last five months. I’m Becky and I’m the Community Connector for Ashton Circle. I’d like to share with you a little insight into my personal experience of 2020 so far… so strap yourselves in because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

Let’s go back to March. The year had gotten off to a shaky start (to say the least). On the 23rd of March, it was announced by Boris Johnson that Britain was now in lockdown, and the people of Britain were told to stay at home. In what I can only assume was a state of panic, people started buying enough toilet roll, pasta and tins of beans to last them two lifetimes. People were no longer able to visit their family and friends, weddings were to be postponed, birthday parties, graduations, holidays, all cancelled. But most tragically of all, Covid-19 was sadly proving to be fatal to many.

Over at Ashton Circle prior to lockdown, our monthly calendar was beginning to fill up nicely with a good variety of events, and our number of members was on the rise! But sadly the announcement of lockdown meant we had to cancel all of our face to face events, with no idea when they would be able to resume. (Stick with me, I promise this blog gets happier!)

I think we can all agree 2020 was not looking great, my anxiety was at an all time high and the world felt daunting and unrecognisable. But with all the doom and gloom March had brought us so far, we were determined not to let coronavirus keep us from doing what we love, which is building community and making meaningful connections! Then I had this wonderful Ah-ha! moment…what if we went virtual? Maybe I’ll make a Facebook group? So I did exactly that.

Tap with Cath

Megan’s How Does Your Garden Grow?

Becky’s Cupboard Cocktails

Myself, Cath, Megan and Sharon put our heads together, and with the power of the internet behind us, we began sharing ideas and growing our Facebook group, Circles Connected. We initially thought it would just be a great way to connect all of our existing members from across Ashton Circle, Abingdon Circle and Community Circles, allowing us to check in with each other. Little did we know it would become so much more.

As the days passed, the number of members in our facebook group grew, people from all across the country, and even the world were joining our group. Ideas of what we could offer came thick and fast. Our friend Mark from HMR Circle began to bring a daily nugget of joy into our lives by sharing a laugh at lunchtime comedy clip. Though our worlds had never been smaller, Sharon made them feel huge with her virtual tours of some of the most breathtaking places on earth, showing us parts of the world we never thought we would see during a pandemic.

Megan welcomed us into her home and garden (virtually, of course) and introduced us to her wonderful family, sharing cooking tutorials with the kids and top tips to keep our gardens looking lush. Cath let her amazing personality shine and kept conversations flowing with conversation starters, as well as sharing her tap dancing talent with us all (which I attempted to follow but of course failed miserably!) And I did what I do best, make a fool of myself! Whether it was making creative cupboard cocktails with a side serving of humour, or trying out face yoga with my mum, it was worth it if it made just one person laugh.

Now here we are, in August with 513 members, offering at least  44 opportunities to connect virtually a week! What started as a way to keep our members connected, actually turned out to be what got me through lockdown – a wonderful virtual community. Something positive and beautiful to focus all of my energy into. So thank you for being a part of this crazy, sometimes scary, but weirdly wonderful rollercoaster ride that has been 2020 so far.