Winter 2021 was a difficult one. Last years Christmas party was cancelled at the last minute, the day before the party, because of a covid case at the centre and an overwhelmed health system on its knees that was shutting everything down. When the unexpected Omicron virus hit us in January it felt like the last straw. Members just stopped coming. Anxiety and depression were settling in. Covid protocol limited housed members to come twice a week. People came and got what they came for; a phone call, a meal, a food bag… then left. The heart of St James as a warm, welcoming, safe refuge had become a centre providing only basic help. Our attempts to maintain some sense of community and friendship with the few that came felt like a losing battle. The pandemic affected most our lives in ways we would have never imagined. What was lost at St James during the pandemic brought some members to a deeper level of independence and survival while others struggled through the day with isolation and depression. Whatever the impact we no longer played the role we once had.
We are only beginning to feel that we’ve turned a corner. People are coming and staying longer and the familiar comfort of being together is returning. We are re-learning how to be social again and it feels great. We have a fine team who are excited to ponder new ideas and explore new possibilities. We are preparing for the new year with renewed hope. We cannot change the impact of these past years however we can change our collective future and come together in support in this bright new one.