BLOSSOM TREE: Beautiful Covid memorial being installed
Tree of reflection, Image: LDRS
A vividly-coloured “blossom tree” is being assembled inside a Solihull venue to allow residents to reflect on lives lost or hugely impacted by Covid-19.
The tree of reflection is a community art project conceived by Citizens Advice Solihull Borough (CASB) and intended to serve as a focal point to highlight the local effects of the pandemic.
It is hoped that it may also act as a gathering place for those who have spent much of the past year and a half indoors and are nervous about venturing out again.
It will soon be in-situ in the foyer at The Core – the council-run library and arts complex – and will be decorated with tokens from local people.
These will include everything from children’s doodles to tributes to loved ones who succumbed to the virus – with some attaching photos of those who passed away.
Kerry Turner, chief executive of CASB, said that the impact on mental health over the past 18 months couldn’t be underestimated.
“People have lost loved ones, been isolated, felt frightened and lonelier than ever before,” she said.
“We hope that the opportunity to express their feelings through a piece of art will help to start the healing process and recovery from the shared trauma of the pandemic.
“The ‘tree of reflection’ will give people a chance to express how Covid-19 has made them feel.”
During the course of the pandemic, the organisation’s 60-strong team has helped around 4,000 people, ranging from those forced to shield to residents thrown into economic uncertainty.
Ms Turner said that there was a particular push now to help those borough residents who might be struggling to return to normal.
“Some people are single people who were on their own when they were asked to shield,” she told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).
“Some have been living in literally three rooms and they are nervous about coming out now.
“It’s important to get people out and about and let them know that some of the feelings and thoughts they are having are absolutely normal.
“Even myself when I went back to the office for the first time and I was used to being in a small bedroom on my own, I found I actually got a headache because I wasn’t used to the noise!”
The project has been put together with help from Solihull Council and the likes of churches, care homes and key workers.
And engineering firm BR Engineering offered their services to actually build the structure.
Ms Turner said that the initial response had been “immensely positive” and there was already talk of other local authorities having a similar project of their own.
The tree – with a 6ft trunk and branches of a similar length – will initially be on display in The Core foyer from September 13-27.
Although there have been talks about options for having a more extended stay or taking the artwork on a tour to other sites.
Cllr Karen Grinsell, deputy leader of the council, welcomed the latest initiative to get people talking about their experiences.
Only last month the local authority had spoken of its own plans to encourage people to share their stories of the pandemic to help create a comprehensive public record.
“We want people to talk about their experiences during lockdown and what it means to them and how they have been affected,” she said.
Following its unveiled in the town centre, the hope is that the tree might yet go on “a bit of a tour of the borough” in future, with a chance for people to see it in other venues.
- The CASB continues to be on-hand to offer advice and support with various issues – from Universal Credit to unemployment. Anyone in need of help or who would like to volunteer can call 0808 27 87 97 6.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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