Tes

13 ways to rebuild community

When you open the school gate to Alisha, the very first thing she does is to run over to her best friend, Laura, and give her a hug. It seems cruel to tell her to stop, but of course you have to. The girls may be in the same class bubble, but hugging is officially against the school’s new social distancing policy.

As more children arrive, it turns out that Alisha and Laura are not the only ones who need reminding about it. Everyone, it seems, is keen to reconnect. Out of everything that students have missed during lockdown, the sense of community that schools provide has been at the top of the list for many.

And this makes biological sense.

“Research suggests that, as human beings, we have almost a fundamental need to belong to something,” explains Lynsey Mahmood, lecturer in organisational psychology at City, University of London. “We also get a lot of feedback and validation from being part of a community.”

Carl Walker, a community psychologist at the University of Brighton, agrees with this. “Community is important because it gives people a huge sense of their identity. It’s important in how you understand who you are in a very fundamental sense,” he says.

For young people, this understanding is shaped through being part of the school community. However, lockdown has

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