Boris Johnson initiated the England lockdown on the 23rd of March, 2020. From that point on, people struggled. Seeing your friends was deemed ‘unnecessary’, spending time outside your home was restricted, and quite painfully: events were cancelled. There were many economic downsides too, with so many streams of income disappearing.


However, the harshest impact on most people was - and still is - the social side of events. Humans love humans! Most of us are social creatures, who enjoy and benefit from the presence of friends and loved ones. So, when COVID-19 put our anticipated gatherings, festivals and celebrations on a hiatus, it hurt a lot of us. Colchester Pride, loved by locals for its community building and striding progressiveness, had to become an online occurrence in 2020; the best situation they could provide in the circumstances.


Another heavy loss was the Relay of Life Colchester event - an inspirational 24-hour relay race that unites people in raising money to beat cancer. After also being forced into a virtual event during lockdown, the relay was able to make a physical return this year, with a brilliant costume competition! When asked about the event's return, Shannon De’Ath elected to say: “I’m delighted to see its return as a participant for the past six years - it’s a fantastic cause that I’m proud to support.” It’s brilliant to see her enthusiasm in helping others.  


But an upsetting piece of news to receive was Scaresville, Sudbury, being cancelled this October 2021. Since most English COVID restrictions were lifted on the 19th of July, it was unexpected to hear this beloved Halloween event got the axe amidst rising COVID cases in the county; highlighting despite England’s loose guidelines on the virus, the ramifications on events are still being felt, and continue to hinder people’s social lives. 


One major task that helped to alleviate this over the lockdowns was the introduction of online gatherings, as previously mentioned here. Colchester Pride was hosted virtually to ensure that, even though the relentless virus was hell-bent on keeping us apart, our sense of community will always reunite us however’s safest. Some events were unlucky enough that they couldn’t be recreated online, instead having to suffer through the fateful year of loneliness. 


In unexpected cases, the free time gained from lockdowns saw the emergence of new  online groups and events - taking advantage of the international nature of the internet. Personally, I realised that I loved reading, but I could never be bothered to sit down and just… read. I always found excuses. And frankly, after months of shielding, I missed talking to people. So, I decided that I’d make a virtual book club, easily accessible so others like myself could finally enjoy books. 


It was a success! An event that’s still ongoing (weekly now), and has bonded many people. It brings great joy knowing that in the face of loneliness, humans will support and engage with one another. I can only hope that events never suffer like they did under lockdown again. But if they do, I know now that online gatherings will help. They bring us together in times of struggle, and people need each other, always.