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Staying sane during COVID-19

Meadowbank Combined Probus Club successfully held its AGM in March and was anticipating the year ahead blissfully unaware of what was to come.

Less than two weeks later, the Club was cancelling its proposed trip to Armidale, cancelling coffee club mornings, cancelling cards, cancelling all planned outings, cancelling all non-essential face-to-face contact.

There were constant reminders of social isolation and members got used to continuous news items informing them of the number of new cases in each state and the "debacle" of the Ruby Princess.

The most adventurous activity was to go to the supermarket, which now involved wearing masks, avoiding other people in the aisles, and spraying hand sanitizer liberally.

For the over 65s, all activities seemed to cease. The Club began to think of ways of to keep members connected. It was decided to distribute the Club newsletter fortnightly instead of monthly.

In the newsletter, members contributed ideas about interesting websites (virtual tours of museums, free concerts, travel sites). A photo competition “Staying Sane” was started and members posted their photos of, amongst other things, camping in the backyard (as pictured above), empty roads, jigsaw puzzles, matchbox collections and putting out the garbage bins.

Members related how they were busy with long-neglected activities such as cleaning cupboards, painting, and gardening. Members reported on trying new activities such as bread making and scone making. There were many contributions of jokes, short stories, amusing photos, puzzles and even an original poem.

The newsletter has become a highly amusing distraction from the sameness of each day in isolation and has highlighted some of the previously hidden talents of members.

As well as informal contact between members, the Club's Welfare Officer has made phone calls to those living alone and those with health issues.

COVID-19 has brought a cataclysmic change to our lives. When it is all over, we will value more highly some things we previously took for granted. Having coffee with friends, reading the paper in a cafe, visiting the library, attending Probus meetings and activities will be much more appreciated.