No one could have predicted the pandemic, covid 19, changes to projects as a result and all the changes the enact community has seen over the last year however throughout it all James and Manju have not lost contact. James was a big part of this community and continues to be from afar. So right now we get 10 minutes with James and wanted to ask him a few questions…
How are you keeping James?
My family and I are well, thank you! We survived lockdown and the juggling act of our house being all at once a school, office, gym, entertainment venue, restaurant and place to sleep. Like for all of us it has been a challenge, but what is the phrase, we are ‘thriving not surviving’!!
What has lockdown meant for you and your family?
Lockdown has in lots of ways made our life feel quite small and contained. We worked hard to establish routines – my favourite one being hot-chocolate with marshmallows at ‘morning break’ between the boys online lessons! – and tried to be kind to each other when it was all a bit much. We are just beginning to emerge from lockdown with the return to school and can begin to think through how to make our lives a bit bigger! It is funny to think that meeting with friends and family, or going to a ‘non-essential shop’ would require a bit of courage, but after a year of a small world we will have to reimagine being around others a lot more. It is exciting to imagine all the things we’ll be able to do as we emerge from the enforced hibernation!
How would you describe your time at enact?
I look on my time with enact very fondly, with a healthy pride both at what we achieved together and towards what you are going on to achieve, and with great humility when I think of the amazing people who I had the privilege to know.
I think the best description of what enact is in my mind comes from Tommy, an amazing young person who had been attending youth club for years, when he characterised enact as a ‘chaotic family’! He meant it in a really kind way! Chaotic because there was always more going on than we had time and resource for, our ambitions were bigger than the budget; and because getting people together can be messy at times. But family, because we were working together and were figuring it out as a community.
As much as I wanted everything neat, tidy and organised, our days had so much going on that ‘organised chaos’ probably was the best description. For me the main thing was community so watching the ‘enact family’ grow; children growing into young people and young people into adults, volunteering and families helping each other; and seeing support, second chances and celebrating successes was the most important thing.
The enact team now are much more organised so there will be less ‘chaos’, but I know that ‘family’ will continue and everyone will continue showing the values!
What do you miss the most about being at enact?
Of course I am biased, but seeing the smiling faces of children arrive to Kids Club, (Tots, Infants and the older group) and hearing about their week at the registration table was such a joy and that doesn’t happen in zoom calls working from home! What I miss most is seeing the children, young people and families growing and changing, taking opportunities and overcoming challenges.
Is there a message you would like to share with the enact community?
Keep being family for each other! Family is not always tidy and doesn’t always have to have everything all-together! We might need encouragement to sort out good routines and positive habits, and support to maintain them, and we need others for that. It is a big thing to admit you cannot do everything alone! Family can be a support. Family makes a priority of kindness, honesty, and celebrating the little successes. Family tries to be positive to ourselves and others. And after all the trying and asking for help, there is nothing better than being able to step outside the front door and be able to say a genuine ‘hello’ to someone you know.
Any advice or tips for the families and children who are navigating their way through this pandemic?
Be kind to each other. I know it is a phrase that is going round and round, but it is true! Everyone has had a slightly different experience, slightly different challenges and opportunities, but everyone needs kindness and to know they have a place where they will be welcomed, valued, can make a contribution and be helped. That is what makes enact stand out, I think!
Any final words?
That is a risky question, I talk too much as it is! I send my very best wishes to all those who remain part of the enact community and to all those who have joined in and will reconnect in the coming months.