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Sibling Bond

This extraordinary time has brought siblings, friends and families together all 
over the world. Including my two children, who wouldn’t have this close a bond if it 
wasn’t for the lockdown, I can see this in their positive interactions. 

American psychologist Susan Doughty has extensively studied sibling 
relationships and concludes that one of the major factors at play is age 
difference. “If siblings are born more than about 6 or 7 years apart, in a lot of 
ways they are essentially two only-children,” Doughty says. “They are in such 
different developmental places that they don’t relate to one another the same 
way
.” 

In my observation I can see my daughter talk and sing to her little brother and 
in return he will watch and laugh. It’s a parent’s dream to see their children 
bond. One of the challenges I have found is activities which they can both 
enjoy due to their six-year age gap, but we’ve found that reading together either during 
the day or before bedtime is fast becoming a favourite activity.

Non-materialistic Value of Life.

The virus has taught us to live without things, and certainly having access to 
only a limited choice has meant that life has become clearer and much simpler
for some people, including me. The luxury of choice may have been stripped 
away but we are still fortunate to be able to carry on.

Yes, I do miss deliberating whether to have chai tea or an americano, or 
deciding to go all out and indulge in a hot chocolate from the posh coffee 
shop. And yes, I do miss going shoe shopping at House of Fraser at 
lunchtimes, however I’m also loving this new ‘take it or leave it’ mentality. I’ve 
found that the less choice I have the happier I am in my decision-making.

With this new mindset, I find I am channelling it to other avenues such as 
catching up with friends and family or streamlining the range of Podcasts I listen to and books I want to read. By narrowing down my communication and 
consumption, I’ve found I’m feeling much more fulfilled. Physical doors may be
closed for now, but the window of opportunity to learn in an efficient manner is always open.

Health is Wealth.

Sri Harkrishan Dhiyaiye Jis Dithe Sab Dukh Jaye – By meditating on Sri Guru 
Harkrishan Sahib Ji all pain and suffering is removed.

I’m a firm believer that your physical and mental wellbeing cannot be taken for
granted. The Pandemic has shown us how quickly this disease can spread, 
especially within our BAME communities. All I want in life are my loved ones
safe and healthy. Not being able to see family and being concerned for 
the health of family around you can be difficult to deal with but having a strong
family unit is like a security blanket.

These past months have certainly highlighted that we will never know what is planned for us in our lifetime. Time ticks by with a degree of uncertainty but all
I can do is to accept Waheguru’s Hukam (Divine Will) and know I will always 
have His support during these testing times.

The Importance of Faith.

Resilience is an area I’ve been working on within myself over the past year or 
so. The pandemic taught me that I am not at a level I am happy with despite 
all the work so far. My mental wellbeing did take a knock and there are times 
even now when I find myself vulnerable.

In Sikhi, the internal religious state of an individual is the most important 
thing. Whenever I’ve found myself vulnerable, I turn to the Almighty to ask for 
strength, support and guidance through meditation or through reciting Simran. 
YouTube is a great source for finding Shabads, a tip – subscribe to the World 
Gurdwara channel where you can read along and find the English 
translation. For meditation, the Apple Store has an array of Sikh Podcasts you
can listen to as you take some time out each day.

I would feel so lost without my Faith, without that ‘something’ to keep me 
focused and in the present. I’ve found that I’m turning more to the Divine to try
and make sense of what is happening externally.

Changes to the Working World.

I’ve always had a strong work ethic and have championed different ways of 
working. Whether that be in groups or remotely, or in the office or off-site, I 
feel that an individual should be able to decide how they are more productive. 
I’ve found it interesting to read how companies and organisations are having 
to adapt to new ways of working. It’s really highlighted the benefits of working 
from home and flexible working. For some employees this may feel like a 
breath of fresh air in not having to work the standard 9-5, go to the office and I
bet they’re glad they’re not doing the school run/commute too.
Add to this new way of working, home schooling children and you can 
understand how difficult and chaotic day to day can be, but workplaces have 

managed it and it will be hard to shake off once offices start to open back up. 
This has certainly ignited questions of whether people are needed in the office
all the time. Should all jobs be advertised as 9-5? Additionally, we need to 
look at the work/home balance and see how employers can support that. I’ll 
be watching to see how this plays out for a lot of organisations.

Finally, after taking away these five key learnings, I end with three words to 
describe my time in isolation: Reflective; Family; Grateful

Written by Kamal Kaur Reehal

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Diversity: Everyone’s Responsibility

It is important that we acknowledge how difficult this day can be for some. This day can be a reminder of suffering and loss. For those who find this day difficult, reach out and talk to someone. If you find it hard to talk to those around you we have a link to support lines below.

Events around the world recently have made us reflect on how important it is to teach children about diversity, how important our roles are in young people’s lives and how we need to take accountability for our actions and language. We can all take an active role in having these conversations. Often children start to mingle with others outside of their home from a young age so starting these conversations early is important.

Below we have highlighted some of the ways this can be done:

1. Read books that celebrate diversity.
Did you know that according to an Arts council report (2018) only 1% of children’s books had a BAME lead, and only 4% of books had a non white character in 2017 (https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/books/best-childrens-books-diversity-a3974701.html). Whilst the numbers are low, there are many independent authors who are trying to tackle this. To make this first step a little easier we have rounded up a couple of articles which have some great suggestions, southbank centre and Huffington Post.

For those of you on Instagram we have researched the following accounts to keep yourself up to date:
@raisegoodkids
@theconsciouskid
@booksfordiversity
@akidsbookabout

2. Visit cultural events to celebrate and learn with other communities
There are so many family friendly events that take place all over the UK celebrating Eid, Diwali, Christmas, Vaisakhi etc. These events can easily be a family fun day out for all.

3. Be a role model with the way you communicate and treat those around you.
Children look to the adults around them to help them navigate the world. Your behaviour and the way you speak about others can help children to be more open and tolerant. If we want to see a change in the world, it actively starts with you. Do your research, educate yourself and those around you.

4. Actively challenge stereotypical narratives in a way that opens conversations and compassionately educates those around you.

Challenging friends and family about their language and behaviour can be difficult. We may be fearful of their reactions or feel like we will offend. This step goes hand in hand with the previous. It is important when being a role model that we demonstrate how we can challenge in a way that feels safe for all involved. This in turn teaches our young people how to have these difficult conversations.

In saying this, we recognise how difficult it can be to know where and how to start. Educating yourself on how you can have these conversations safely will help you feel confident in talking about issues you want to challenge.

The SF team have researched some resources that can be helpful in having difficult conversations:

NSPCC parents guide for talking about difficult topics with children (article)
YoungMinds how to have difficult conversations with your child (youtube video)
How to talk to friends and family about sensitive subjects: the art of having difficult conversations (article)
Seekh Talks – Difficult Conversations (youtube video)

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Their Journeys

Keyur Patel

Intro to me and my Cancer journey in 5 emotions fight

Well I’m your usual type of second generation Asian British lad, I’m short annoying, loud. Ahh yes and I have cancer. Chronic a Myeloid Leukaemia to be precise.

I want to start by saying that I am one of the lucky ones. Why you might ask. Well it’s simple, I get to live. Others are not so lucky.

I wasn’t sure how this particular blog / blogs would be formed, as with most of my writing they form eventually after I mull things over in my head and I eventually get to what I am doing now. The actual writing of it.

I’ve broken down the blogs into 5 parts that pretty much sum up the different stages that I went through when I was diagnosed and in the weeks after. I will go into more detail in my book, when its published, not if…..when.

The 5 emotions

  • Fight
  • Fear
  • Fairness
  • Hate / Anger
  • Acceptance

Now I’ve heard this word used a lot, in part by me but also by others when they talk about fighting cancer, battling cancer. I’m going to try and summarise what that actually meant for me.

When I was given the news on the 20th September 2012 that I had either Leukaemia or Lymphoma, I’m not sure it had the effect on me that the Doctor thought it would. I was in Charging cross, having various drips coming out of me, my vitals were getting back to normal and the Doc even joked that I was being a hypochondriac . Man was he wrong lol.

I’ll never forget it, one of the Doctors that was dealing with me came back and showed the Dr I mention above the results. He then said “run the tests again” the Doctor that had the results said “we did, we rang them twice”. He then gave me the news that I suspect no one really wants to hear. I vaguely remember him saying about my white blood cells and mentioning 275,000 and some other bits.

The conversation went a bit like this

Doc – “Keyur the results are back and…..medial blurb, it’s likely to be Leukaemia or Lymphoma

Me – “ok Doc how do we beat it”,

Doc – “Keyur did you hear what I said”

Me – “I heard you mate but I’m waiting for that proverbial fucking bus to run me over, so how do we fight it”.

He then went back to Dr mode and told me a series of things that would happen, most of which I cant remember. I do remember my ex wife asking the Doc to give us a moment and then bursting into tears and me consoling her telling her that it would all be ok. I guess there’s some strange irony in that.

What I didn’t realise then but realised something I realised later and even now. Just saying “I’m going to fight it’ and actually fighting it on a day to day basis are two very different things.

The true fight comes when you’re curled up in your bed and the tears and flowing freely because you’re joints are hurting or your just in pain and your thinking, how is this fair. Why me. What did I do that was so wrong to be given this illness.

However, as with everything, eventually the tears stop flowing, you uncurl yourself wipe away whatever excess tears are on your cheeks, you stand up, look in mirror and say I can and I will. That’s the true fight.

For someone battling / fighting an illness whether its cancer or depression (both of which I have some experience of) the above is the reality of life.

So when you’ve finished reading this, if you know someone apart from me battling something, illness, fear, debt, depression whatever. Send them a text, snap, tweet, like, ping or whatever.

Do something to show them you are there. Trust me when I say it will mean more to them then you realise.

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Blog

Kam Kaur

Bio: Kamal Kaur Reehal, Senior Digital Marketing Officer for Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals’ Charity. My experience being pregnant with my second child and now on maternity during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Born During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

It’s mid-2019 and our family are overjoyed when my husband and I announce we are pregnant with our second child. Arriving six years after our daughter, we begin to look forward to the little one’s arrival and I’m excited to become a mummy again to a newborn.

As someone who plans and loves writing endless to-do lists, I had 2020 all planned out from the start. From visits to the Gurdwara, to family get togethers, to days out – 2020 was going to be a lot of fun. Little did I know that my planning would all be in vain as we are in the middle of a world-wide crisis – unplanned, unprecedented and unpredictable. Looking back, I think this is where my anxiety levels started to climb – from having my careful plans completely scrapped and nothing set in its place. At the beginning, I felt annoyed that this outbreak messed up my perfect planning as I wasn’t sure whether I’d even be able to give birth at the hospital!  Luckily, my antenatal care wasn’t affected as the UK wasn’t implementing any social distancing measures at this time.  I still had my appointments at my GP surgery and Birmingham Women’s Hospital as normal. 

Like many pregnant women, I was concerned about giving birth during the Coronavirus outbreak. I went on maternity leave in February and at that point, I realised how serious the situation was spiralling out of control, it was becoming frightening and I spent many sleepless nights wondering about my antenatal and postnatal care.

As it was, I gave birth to my son and was safely home before the disease was declared a Pandemic and stricter self-isolation and social distancing measures were put in place by the UK Government by March 16. Truthfully, this was when I got really scared. Scared for my young daughter, my new baby and my family and friends. 

My postnatal home visits from my community midwife and health visitor were subsequently cancelled or rearranged. This didn’t mean I didn’t have access to any healthcare, it just meant that steps were being taken to reduce the risk of the virus spreading rapidly with face to face contact.

Then the comparison kicked in, when my daughter was born, we had endless visits from friends and family, all eager for those first kisses and cuddles. How different and quiet it’s been during the first weeks of my son’s life when he hasn’t had the same precious moments with everyone. Close family managed to squeeze in a quick visit the weekend before the lockdown was announced but we’ve had no physical contact since. Again, I’ve found this hard to cope with, not only is it upsetting we can’t be together, I’m also worried about my family’s own safety and care. Not being able to see them makes me even more determined to ride this out and get it over with. One positive from this is that it has allowed my baby to settle into his own routine of sleeping and feeding, rather than me worrying about people coming over and unsettling him. 

Now we are a few weeks into the lockdown and if I’m to be completely honest, my initial anxiety seems to have faded and I’m embracing the time at home. I’ve worked hard to achieve a positive mindset over the past months, which I ultimately think has helped me see the wider picture. The past year has been a whirlwind both personally and professionally, it’s really refreshing not having to rush about from the minute I wake up. As a busy working mum, I had to juggle everything and fit things in. During lockdown, I’ve had time to do things at a more leisurely pace and combined with my children keeping me busy, the days are flying past. I’m especially enjoying the time I’m getting to spend with my daughter. I think it’s nice to see the world in general benefiting from this new slower pace of life too.

It’s so easy to be consumed by negative thoughts from time to time, but I’m learning to counteract these by limiting the amount of media I’m exposing myself to and even then, ensuring it’s from a trusted source. There is a lot of bad media out there and with that comes scaremongering and fear. I’ve also found it helps to delete or limit those WhatsApp videos as soon as you get them!

Like most of us, I’m missing my family and friends, but we’ve found a renewed love for talking and making time for one another without any external disruptions. We now spend longer on phone calls and Facetime and have a good old chat. I’ve also spoken to people I haven’t spoken to in a while and it feels great to reach out and see what’s going on in their lives and to feel connected again.

Taking time out each day to practice some simple Naam Simran or listen to Shabads has become one of my favourite rituals and helps keep me in Chardi Kala (positive thoughts). I usually do this when I’m bathing the baby or when getting the children ready for bed. Other ways I’ve embraced this downtime is by connecting with other new mums, especially via Instagram. Building up a support network is important to me and really helps curb the blues. So many new mums’ feel the same as I do and it’s comforting to know I’m not alone. We’re all on this journey together. I’ve also had a huge social media cleanse and unfollowed accounts that don’t add value or increase my knowledge in any way.

Whilst I’ve been on maternity leave, I’ve assisted in helping our NHS staff look for alternative accommodation as ‘safe havens’ and sourced hot meals for them whilst they are sacrificing their own safety to protect our patients. I’m still trying to support my Fundraising colleagues to help drive donations to the urgent Covid-19 Appeals we’ve put in place. The funds raised will be directed towards supporting our NHS heroes on the frontline and the women, children and families in the hospitals’ care. More information can be found on the charity websites, social media pages for the charities or on my Twitter (@kam_kaur).  

So… keep in mind we’re all in this together, our lives will improve considerably after these drastic few months.  We can’t control what is happening, but we can control how we react to it all. Stay home, protect our wonderful NHS and save lives. 

I sincerely hope this helps those reading my blog and believe you can get through this as I have. Do get in touch with Sikh Forgiveness for further guidance.

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Frazzled

It started with constantly checking the news, refresh…refresh…refresh…any, new, news? Anything more of this virus; I, once thought was so far away and now was on the doorstep. It started as a blanket ‘oh only 3% of the people who contract it, die, it’s not a big deal!’. Well it has become a big deal, as it was affecting those most vulnerable and it has scoured the Earth taking most countries hostage. Living in a family which has two vulnerable people in it, I wondered how long I would have to continue travelling on the tube and looking at faces of people who unknowingly carried this invisible disease. Bringing back to people who would be so severely affected by it.

However, once I was safely stowed away in my household the notion of refresh…refresh…refresh did not stop, and the heightened anxiety did not leave. Now, I was refreshing all things positive, the amount of time I now had to carry out all these tasks I had said I would do ‘when I had more time’. “Well there you go” said the Universe “Now you have no excuses. You complained your travel to work left you, with dead time and tiredness, when you returned home. Now there is no excuse is there?”

This excess time made me more paranoid about the fact that I had to now do things I had promised to myself I would do to better myself, but I hadn’t expected it to now come so quickly and with such force. With the 100’s of people on Instagram telling me how to fill this time and how they had managed to so easily slip into it. Everyone seems to be getting on with their goals and doing all these things. What was I doing with this precious time, I had prayed for? Scrolling and scrolling on every app that provided me with some feed. Anything to block out the fact that I had to now do all these things. The focus I had so carefully derived from the depths of my body, building block by building block all seemed to have run away, as soon as I had to put goals into action and steps into motion; as though they had been touched by an electric current.

I was so hard on myself for not even taking one step towards using my time wisely but seeing the average time spent counter on Instagram rise and rise. It was like I couldn’t get myself away from this distraction, which was stealing my time and making me number. For even though we have more time and I want to better myself. Outside the door is this virus lurking and a world we all once knew changing. For how long? That is something we still do not know and this one thought itself has become draining.

by @shelvedblog