Isolation diary: Keeping in touch

You can find previous Isolation diaries here.

A friend of mine dropped an envelope through my door a couple of days ago. Inside was a bar of chocolate and a postcard with a photo of a place we loved visiting in Ireland. She wished us well and offered to do any shopping we needed. Of course, I phoned her to thank her and we had a very pleasant chat about this and that. It was a simple act of kindness which meant a lot.

My neighbours text and phone from time to time as well to see if we are OK. We haven’t had to call on any outside help so far, but it is so reassuring to know that there are people we can contact if we need anything.

I expect many of you will have come across #viralkindness. I run the weekly email newsletter that we send out to all our members, supporters and non-member volunteers in Kingston, so I started pushing out the ViralKindness pdf to everyone as soon as it popped up last weekend.

You do have to be a bit cautious about using it because some fraudsters have been abusing the community goodwill. But if you are still out and about then it would mean a lot to drop it through the door of elderly and vulnerable neighbours. I suggest adding a photo and some details about yourself so the person receiving it can recognise you and be more confident about responding.  Whatever you do – even if you are a councillor – do NOT do it in political mode (as some Labour activists have been doing). This is about friendship and community, not about chasing votes.

We’ve been making good use of Skype this week, and my brother who lives in Canada messaged me on Messenger to set up a Skype chat tomorrow, after checking who was now in daylight saving time (they are, we aren’t).

This afternoon we had a chat with the grandchildren on Face Time. They are not too happy about school closing because they will miss their friends. The younger one is in Year 6 so he is worried about missing out on all the end of year events as he leaves primary school, not to mention his birthday party in May. The older one will miss his football training and matches.

I was doing a drama course at the Rose Theatre Kingston, which has, of course, now closed. The tutors contacted us all to ask if we wanted to share email addresses, and now that we are in touch with each other we are setting up a WhatsApp group. We love chatting about theatre and the performing arts in general so I’m sure we will be sharing Netflix recommendations. There is nothing unusual or surprising about that at all – WhatsApp groups are springing up all over the place – but it once again underlines the huge positive benefits of social media.

Facebook groups are a great way to keep in contact with friends, of course. And if you are in self-isolation then do join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group. About 50 Lib Dems are already in there sharing their stories and practical tips.

But thinking about email, Messenger, Skype, Face Time, WhatsApp and Facebook reminds that some elderly people do not have smart phones or tablets so can’t make use of many apps that could help to reduce their isolation. Maybe you have an old phone or tablet that you could pass on to someone? It also gives you an excuse to phone them and make sure they know how to use the device.


Please note

We are in self-isolation to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised. We are not quarantined, so we can do one or two things (like going out for a walk) that you can’t do if you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has.

There is full advice on quarantining here, and advice on social distancing for vulnerable people here.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • A piece of paper arrived on my doormat today announcing that 30 volunteers in the area would be available to collect prescriptions, do dog walking, have a chat, or do shopping for those who are housebound due to necessary or voluntary isolation.

    The thought behind the message was a marvelous boost to the morale. There are people out there who actually care and are willing to help. Perhaps there is a silver lining somewhere after all.

  • Not all bad news. Bookmakers closed.

  • I was informed about the bookmakers by someone who is delighted her husband will no longer be spending his earnings there.

  • Manfarang,

    best not mention the massive growth in online bookmakers in recent years to her.

  • Manfarang 22nd Mar ’20 – 2:14am………..Not all bad news. Bookmakers closed……

    I’m hoping that HS2 will go the same way; if they dump the ‘Trident’ upgrade that’ll be a real bonus.

  • Following an initiative from a resident, volunteers in our village have delivered the ViralKindness forms to everyone in the village. A few were printed on people’s own printers, then I printed 1,500 which were distributed through the village shop and pharmacy. I was already thinking of doing this when the Parish Council chair – who is also a Lib Dem District Councillor – said he’d arrange printing, and asked me to do it. I run HLPS, a Lib Dem printing society, so it was a quick job to do. No mention of Lib Dems of course, but we both get the credit for a good deed.

  • @David Wright – good to hear. In my ward I have extracted all those tagged as elderly on Connect and the councillors will deliver the viralkindness leaflet along with their calling card (to identify them) to them.

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