My son loves playing the guitar, and his band of choice at the moment is Queen. Whilst only 12 years old, he’s more or less mastered the guitar solo from Bohemian Rhapsody and he was looking forward to playing it at the school talent contest at the end of term. He took the news of its cancellation pretty well, as he understood that the current health crisis is very serious. I think we all now understand that this virus, along with its implications for all of our lives, is about as serious as it gets.
Across the country families have been physically and mentally constrained within their homes. We hear of couples with four children living in flats with only one or two bedrooms. We hear of people living in fear of violent threats and of physical and sexual assault. People are losing their loved ones and they are also losing their jobs. Once again, it is the most vulnerable who appear to be the people who are suffering the most.
Relationships Scotland supports around 19,000 people each year. We provide counselling for couples and individuals, family mediation for parents going through separation and divorce, and child contact centres when children get caught in the crossfire of difficult break-ups and need support to keep in touch with the parent they no longer live with.
We are currently providing a range of remote support for the people who rely on our help. We have seen a significant increase in telephone and online counselling, we are supporting people through Skype and Zoom, and we are helping children keep in touch with the parent they no longer live with through a new ‘letterbox’ service which allows the safe exchange of letters and photos. We will continue to do all we can, within the restrictions that we all now have to live with for now.
Whilst we don’t know exactly when or how, this crisis will one day pass. When it does, we expect many of the issues that are currently hidden will suddenly burst into the open. Couples, after weeks and months of living together for 24 hours each day, will decide that they either want support to work on their relationships or they will have decided to separate. Parents who have not seen or hugged their children for the duration of the lockdown will want to make up for lost time. Those struggling with their mental health will hopefully reach out to others. And those who have suffered at the hands of their partners will want to find safety and escape from their situations, if they haven’t already managed to do so.
But throughout all of this, it will be the relationships we have with those we love that will bring us through this crisis. The love we have with our parents, our children, our friends and our partners, where it is true and good, will be what brings us through these toughest of times.
Returning to my son, every night he reminds me to “charge up his phone for the morning”, and I usually remember to do just that. He then says he loves me, and I know, at least for today, that we’re going to be OK.
Relationships Scotland is the largest provider of relationship and family support in Scotland, and provides counselling, mediation and child contact centres across the country.
Further details of their work can be found here: www.relationships-scotland.org.uk or call 0345 119 2020