Around about this time last year, as we came to the end of 2019, I reflected on the past decade at GWL as we looked forward to the next. When I wrote that Blog post, 2020: Hope/Fully Fear/Less little did we know that the combination of fear and hope would play such central roles in all our lives throughout 2020.
A year also of shock, disbelief, loss, grief and, for many, having to adapt the ways we live and work beyond anything we could have imagined. This year has been a time to reflect, arguably more so than ever, on what, or who, we have taken for granted in the past, and just how far we still have to work towards dismantling structural inequalities.
Like so many organisations, GWL has had to quickly adapt to change, with Staff Team members working from home, rethinking and reshaping our events and activities into digital formats, continuing to support our volunteers and Adult Literacy learners, and working together as a team, with our Board of Directors, to plan as far as we can for the future. We had to adapt the building for re-opening in September, ensuring safe systems were in place for staff and visitors, and then respond to another round of closures as Glasgow entered Level Four restrictions on 20th November. I am so proud of the GWL Team who have all worked so hard on these multiple and complex levels; not merely functioning through this crisis but bringing about innovations, making overdue improvements to our building, creating a timely new exhibition, planning exciting new programming for 2021, finding new ways of collaborating, upskilling, and providing new pathways to learning for many we support.
We step into some unknown territories in 2021: the impact of Brexit, the economic cost of Covid-19 in the longer term, and of course the effectiveness of vaccines. Uncertainty, and fear, will undoubtedly follow us in to the New Year, and hope may still feel somewhat elusive – but now, more than ever, we need to keep hold of it.
My hope is to be able to welcome you all back to GWL in 2021 – to our beautiful, unique space, often recognised as being at its best when we can all come together to share our stories, learning, laughter and hospitality. It will come. In the meantime, as always, thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.
Last year I started my Blog post with this quote from Rebecca Solnit; at the end of this tumultuous year it feels as apt as ever:
“To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable” Rebecca Solnit, ‘Hope in the Dark’.