Hello, my name is Olugbemi. I currently work as a Liaison Officer for Chat Central, situated at Voluntary Action Coventry. This is a charity that supports people in Coventry experiencing isolation. As a black person, Black History Month is particularly important to me. It is important to learn from the past so that we do can grow stronger together. Additionally, I think that some of the issues that the black community face is due to a lack of understanding. Black History Month shines a spotlight to the hardships and triumphs faced by black people and exploring this is very educational.
Isolation in present times
As a child, I struggled to understand loneliness and isolation. It was an obscure and far removed thing that only people who had seen recent bereavement experienced. Ignorance is indeed bliss; I played football on the grass with my siblings and laughed with my friends at school, never quite seeing that profound sadness and silent suffering that many experience.
Now, I have come to realise that loneliness is a pandemic. It is less obvious, lurking in the fringes of society and disguised in plain sight. Loneliness is intricately complex. It is elderly people estranged from their family and people with learning disabilities who are misunderstood. It is the homeless, abused; it is being in that group of friends where no one quite knows you. It is being a student, fending for yourself for the first time or stuck at home, away from all the fun. It is for some, not being able to escape the trauma and the thoughts in our own heads.
Loneliness is scarily common place.
Yet people seldom say “I am lonely.” Students are not an exception. In some respects, it may seem as if your loneliness is small in the grand scheme of things. Or the fear of admitting that you are not quite okay may be insurmountable. You may feel so cold and numb, unable to allow yourself the luxury to feel anything too intense.
It is hard. However, I am a strong believer that there is always hope. It may not be in the glamourous and glitzy Hollywood way where your dream person sweeps you off your feet and whisks you away into a happy ever after. You will have your ups and downs; there are times where you will be reliant on survival mode to get through the days. That is okay, because the small victories add up and matter, even if it is just feeling a little bit lighter for a second, minute and hour.
It is important to hold on to the fact that you are not alone. Coventry University have a range of support services as well as services at CUSU. And there are many local charities and organisations external to the University that can support you. For example, Mental Health Matters, CRASAC, Mind and ArtyFolks.
I work for Chat Central which is a project run by a local charity, Voluntary Action Coventry. Our core aim is to support adults in Coventry who are experiencing isolation. Pre lockdown, this was meeting small groups of people, understanding them as an individual and helping them to engage with local activities. Since the lockdown, we have focused on running activities online and in person where people can come along and form meaningful connections with others. We also support people with finding other activities happening now in Coventry.
If you're interested in learning more about the work of Chat Central, you can email Olugbemi at: O.Moronfolu@vacoventry.org.uk