I recently organised a socially-distanced family picnic for the Somali Women’s Group that I run, along with their children. The picnic lasted for a couple of hours. Nine families attended in total. The group were following social distancing rules, frequently washing their hands and using hand sanitizers where possible throughout the afternoon.
The group really enjoyed the outing. For the majority this was their first time out since lockdown. Meeting together in the fresh air gave them a sense of relief from the confinement that they’d experienced in their flats for many weeks.
You could see on their faces how happy they were and through the animated conversations they were having. Equally, their children were extremely happy to be out and playing. It was a great opportunity for them to catch up and tell each other how their families were coping during the lockdown and how much their lives had changed since. It was a perfect time for the parents to spend a couple of hours together, in the open air.
The picnic was obviously different from previous group sessions. The idea behind it was to organise some activities for the children, as well as get the women together. As many of the women had asked to bring their children along. We listened of course. The children, being children, had been confined in their houses for so long, and just wanted to get out, run around, stretch their legs and play outside. We organised some football, painting, running competitions and other physical activities which they hadn’t done for many weeks.
Beyond just catching up, we also used the session to talk about the women’s mental health, how to be safe, easing of the lockdown and following government guidelines when they leave their homes.
This picnic undoubtedly had a positive impact on the women and the children’s mental health and wellbeing. There was one parent who came with two daughters who said “this is the first time we have a time together in the open air for a long time”. Another parent said “this has given us the opportunity to see other families and friends again, due to lockdown I haven’t been able to meet anyone and this event allowed me to destress and finally have conversations with people outside of my household.” We hope to organise another one over the summer holidays.
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