Adjusting to social isolation

Adjusting to social isolation

As people across the world make adjustments needed to deal with the complexities around Covid-19, for some it may be the first time they are discovering what it means to lose their freedom and experience some form of isolation.

At Hostage International, we support people across the world whose loved ones have been kidnapped, often not knowing how or where they are. We also work to help hostages after their release.

For some we support, the use of the word ‘isolation’ is hard. To those who have been released from being taken hostage, the connected world in which many of us live is a far cry from the genuine isolation that many have experienced in truly dismal situations.

Our beneficiaries who have had a loved one kidnapped may feel extremely lonely at the best of times, unable to talk to anyone about their situation, struggling under a cloak of secrecy to keep their loved one as safe as possible and often being given only limited information about what is going on.

Hostage International President and co-founder Terry Waite CBE has often talked about how positives can often be taken from suffering, and in some ways is it possible that this solidarity and understanding that we all need to tap into may not prove so negative.

He said: “Suffering, in most cases, need not destroy. Often out of suffering something creative can emerge.”

Being international, we are fortunate that much of our work is done remotely so we are used to connecting via digital means, but we are making adjustments to ensure we are still there for anyone who needs us in order to give that essential emotional connection and help.

I recently spoke with Judith Tebbutt, who sits on our board of trustees and is the author of ‘A Long Walk Home’, written after her release from Somali pirates who held her captive for six months from September 2011.

Judith reflected on the current situation saying:

“While being on your own in these circumstances is completely different to what I experienced as a hostage, there are so many ways to get through this. Throughout my time in captivity my mantra was always, ‘This is temporary – this situation is temporary and is not going to last forever’.

“At the start of this virus outbreak the whole idea of being on my own frightened me, especially with the use of the word ‘isolation’ which has such negative connotations. But then I thought about how we can connect through social media and the like, take time for ourselves and to get to know ourselves more.

“In true isolation I learnt the importance of keeping healthy in body and mind and urge everyone to take time to be kind to yourself and look after yourselves.”

These are genuinely informed words from a woman who had to make adjustments unimaginable to most of us. I hope that out of this current situation we will find other forms of freedom and connectivity to avoid genuine isolation. If you know anyone in need of our support, please let them know we are still here for them, find out more here. Or if you are in a position to donate, please do so here. 

By Lara Symons, Chief Executive, Hostage International




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Adjusting to social isolation
Adjusting to social isolation