Covid Catharsis: A Manifesto

The Need for Catharsis

More than a year has passed since the first mentions of Covid19 in the news. One year since dramatic and drastic restrictions on the movement of people in almost every country around the world were announced. The year turns and we can all recall how the first lockdown impacted us “this time last year”. As this milestone passes, we recognise the yearning to return to ‘normal’, the desperation to see loved ones, to socialise, to travel, to change our routines at a moment’s notice. We also know that acknowledging the loneliness, restrictiveness, loss, grief, sadness, anxiety, the struggles with family and with ourselves, everything that has made the last year a challenging, uncomfortable and disrupting year, is necessary and crucial to our wellbeing.

Even though the disruption was sadly necessary, we have also seen seeds of hope throughout. Ever noticed how hope is often mixed up with sadness? 

Desiderium & Saudade are two words which express this sense of mourning and hope mixed together: the feeling of loss and grief for something lost alongside a hope for the future. We believe it is important to create a space for young people to be deeply saddened and unrelentingly happy; a space where things need not (perhaps cannot) make sense, where we acknowledge the presence of mess and confusion, but also note where hope is filtering through. We are confident that in the expression of these emotions, young people will begin to make sense of their experiences of the past year.

The Invitation

We want to invite you: young people, youth workers, teachers, church leaders and anyone else who sees this manifesto to express this mixture of sad and happy – this saudade – in whatever form comes most naturally to you. In doing so, we hope and pray that you will find some catharsis for yourself, and potentially also for others.

How will this work? 

There are many ways you can do this. Using photography, written words, music, poetry, or design. You can do this just for yourself, but if you’re happy to share your creation(s) on social media, we’d like to encourage you to use the hashtag #CovidCatharsis and we will share these on various platforms. If you would like to share but remain anonymous, then email your contribution to one of us and we will publish on your behalf.

Each week of the project, using the hashtag #CovidCatharsis we will suggest a theme to inspire your thinking. We will post these themes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, always using the hashtag and we invite you to join us by creating and posting. 

The real beauty of this is that, just as lament, grief and yearning are messy, so this will be too. We’re not looking for beautifully constructed, polished and finished works of art, but your raw, real, emotional expression of these deeply human emotions. 

So, if this strikes a chord with you and you think your young people will appreciate the opportunity: join us.

Who is behind this project? 

Andy and Jenni are long term youth workers who are deeply invested in encouraging good mental health practices which contribute to mental wellbeing and fitness. We are both freelancers, believing that there is space in the world of youth work for big organisations and small outfits.

Andy Campbell: coach, trainer, poet and occasional square peg. Andy helps people work out who they are and what their next step might be. Find out more here or contact him using this link

Jenni Osborn: mentor, trainer, author and host of the Jenni Talks podcast. Jenni’s passion is supporting those who support young people in a variety of ways. Find out more here or contact her using this link

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