CATALOUGE: Hidden stories of Covid being collected
Solihull is hoping to catalogue the human stories of the Covid-19 crisis, allowing people to understand events 100 years from now.
The council project intends to collate detailed accounts of residents’ experiences during the biggest crisis to grip the borough since the Second World War.
Aside from providing a public record for future generations, the initiative also aims to help people come to terms with events.
Speaking this week, Ruth Tennant, the council’s director of public health, said: “The way I always think about it is what would you tell your grandchildren?
“If in 100 years’ time someone asked – what was the Covid-19 pandemic like, someone will be able to look back and say ‘this is the story of Solihull’.”
She said the official figures would offer the raw data around infections, deaths and vaccine take-up, but the numbers could never tell the human stories behind the crisis.
“We know that people have got amazing stories of incredible achievement.
“Thinking back to some of the incredible acts of kindness and bravery we have seen and people helping each other.
“But we know there are also heart-breaking stories out there and we want to be able to capture that as it is the hidden story of the pandemic.”
It’s intended that accounts could also form the basis for artwork although finer details are still being discussed.
Martyn Sargeant, the council’s head of customer and cultural services, said: “The Covid pandemic has had a worldwide impact unparalleled in most people’s lifetimes.
“Almost without exception, every person has been affected by it: through curtailment of individual freedoms, through the pain of bereavement or sickness, through the impact on working lives to name but a few.
“Part of that recovery will be to create space for people to tell and share their stories, should they wish to.”
Since March 2020, Covid-19 has claimed more than 600 lives in Solihull and thousands more have survived serious illness or been left with lingering symptoms.
Others have lost loved ones, ended up unemployed, been furloughed, battled to keep businesses afloat or suffered significant disruption during periods of lockdown.
Cllr Tony Dicicco, cabinet member for adult social and health, recently admitted that the impact on mental health of such a “traumatic” period would take time to assess.
Endorsing the ‘Our Story’ project, council leader Ian Courts said it would also play a role in helping understand some of the wider implications of the crisis – which are still not fully understood.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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