Experiences of 2020

Lauren - Fundraiser for Women's Aid

I was very optimistic at the start of 2020; a new year, a new decade, and a new set of goals to achieve. In 2019 I graduated with a Master’s degree in Sustainable Aquaculture and I started a new job as a University Research Assistant. I was excited and ready to see what opportunities I would be faced with and hopeful that 2020 was my year.

However, everything was soon to be put on hold when coronavirus hit, and our daily lives completely changed. A week before the lockdown started my job contract ended, and from there I decided to pack up my belongings and move back home. Little did I know it would be for much longer than anticipated.

Many people across the country, including myself, were waking up daily to Groundhog Day where nothing seemed to change – staggering statistics, political spins, fears of a second wave, and lingering anxiety of when this will all end. While some days felt like déjà vu there were many aspects that I started to enjoy. Living without any time constraints, nowhere to be at a certain time, and most importantly taking much needed time to focus on me. With there being a standstill in adverts for job vacancies I knew I needed to occupy myself by doing other things. To get back into some sort of a routine I decided to set myself some small daily goals, one of which being to walk a minimum of 10,000 steps each day. I am a huge lover of the outdoors and being out in the fresh air was my escape mechanism during these uncertain times. Immersing myself in the outdoors, discovering and appreciating new walks in my local area, and embracing myself in nature was what kept me going.

One of the main things that helped me get through these uncertain times was being a part of pageantry. I am currently a finalist for Miss Intercontinental UK 2020 representing Edinburgh and it is one of the most prestigious pageants across the world. The final is due to take place in November – fingers crossed it still goes ahead!

On the run up to the final in November I have been fundraising through the pandemic for Women’s Aid which provides life-saving services for women and children who are experiencing or escaping from domestic violence. Before Covid-19, the Women’s Aid Live Chat was already a vital lifeline for women who could not find the words or were unsure whether they are experiencing abuse. But this support is needed more than ever. Over 91% of respondents to the Women’s Aid June Survivor Survey said that the Covid-19 pandemic affected their experiences in at least one way. This included worsening abuse, feeling afraid or having no-one to turn to. Knowing that my lockdown experience was not even half as challenging as some women and children across the country made me realise how lucky I was and pushed me to raise as much money as I could to help those affected by domestic abuse during this pandemic. As the coronavirus restrictions eased, I decided to set myself a challenge and climb Ben Nevis in aid of Women’s Aid. I was lucky enough to pick one of the hottest days of the year; I completed the 1,345-meter ascent in 26 degrees and surrounded by hundreds of midges. It was worth it for the amazing views at the summit and raising money for an incredible charity, where I managed to raise just under £700!

Reflecting back on the past 6 months, the most important thing I would say is to remain positive and appreciate each and every moment. I have learnt to not think too far into the future and take each day as it comes. Every cloud has a silver lining, and I feel that I have grown as a person and I have learnt a lot about myself.