Lots of Care: A COVID-19 Statement
from the front room

[Updated: Friday 11th September, 10pm]

Today’s news about a change to Birmingham’s public health and safety guidelines for COVID-19 in the city, officially as of Tuesday 15th September, are sad for us all, but unsurprising given the scale of the challenge the virus presents for us all. We are taking a moment to reflect on all of those still grieving from the loss of loved ones, the social and economic impact for so many of us in the city, across the country and world, as well as the sustained pressure on our public services and National Health Service, many of whom we know are preparing for further difficult times ahead. 

All summer, like so many of you, we too have been perplexed by the conflicting advice; not being able to visit some of our close family, yet allowed out in restaurants and pubs, we too have simultaneously wanted to support our local economy – especially the freelancers and independents forgotten by government support – and been worried about how much of the advice seemed to encourage us to congregate only where we would spend money, rather than places that felt safe.

As vocal and public advocates of citizens income / dividend, we have consistently believed there was a more equitable, noble and universal way of us working our way through all this. Having lost family members and elders ourselves as a team, more personally we have wanted to both hide away, and be there with even more strength for one another, knowing so many of our neighbours and communities were finding themselves more and more isolated. We understand how crucial it was for parents and children for schools to reopen, but also that this is scary and complex, experiencing first hand the challenges on parents to hold the many layers of responsibility over last six months.

Being able to spend time together outdoors at a safe distance in South Loop Park this August and early September through The Floating Front Room has meant the world to all of us in the team, and we are so grateful for our time spent with all of you and how you have conducted yourselves during this period. It has been more than we could have dared to dream could be possible given the uncertainty and onging affects of the pandemic. At every turn we are planning and making preparations for it to be safe, to go ahead, and also knowing that at any moment we may need to pull back and pivot when this is required of us, and that communication around this is key.

We care about the people of this city more than anything else. We are people of this city; our friends, families, neighbours, partners are the people of this city, and so are all of you that we’ve been lucky enough to meet through our work over the last decade. This love and care is what drives our decision-making, always but now in a way that feels even more crucial than ever before. Everything served at The Floating Front Room is completely free for local people, so this decision-making is also not associated with an underlying need or desire to generate revenue.

When planning activities in person, we are continually weighing up the value and risk of this, and are prioritising that which we think will ultimately strengthen and build resilience across different groups of people, locally and connected by values from across the city, such as learning about how to grow our own food, staying active, and supporting our mental health, and what can be done safely with as little contact and proximity as possible.

Today we are feeling as confused and conflicted as many of you will be, and trying to judge what seems acceptable to us beyond the guidelines themselves given the rise in cases, and the sensational and unclear way it has been reported today has created further questions for us all about how we show up for one another whilst showing care and caution too.

Moving through the paradoxes, we have studied the latest advice in as much detail as possible in order to share a statement regarding our activity from today onwards.

We would like to continue The Floating Front Room over the next few months to ensure there is a safe, affordable, free, space for people to socially connect. We want to do this as safely as possible, in every sense of the word. So, it’s now about how we do so with lots of care, lots of extra care, and stay open minded to adapting together as and when we need to.

How to Show Lots of Care
at The Floating Front Room

  • Strictly keep 2 metres distance between yourself and those outside of your household or support bubble at all times, including all members of The Floating Front Room team.

  • Wear masks if you are able to do so. We always have these available for free.

  • Hand sanitise regularly. We have multiple sanitisation stations near The Barge for your use.

  • Spend time in groups of no more than 6 people (unless your support bubble exceeds this size).
  • Spread out across the park as much as possible, and do not  convene in areas of the park where groups are already gathered.

  • Do not congregate around The Barge.

  • Please do not go onto The Barge, even the outside decks, unless you are a member of our team.

  • Take home any blankets that you use, and do not unnecessarily touch anything. If you read a book, or use a conversation menu, please take it home, and keep it as a gift from us to you.

Over the coming weeks we will be gently bringing in more and more ways to participate safely, creating additional markings and signage in the park, and ensuring activities continue to take place online where possible, so please co-operate whether you are a regular or visiting for the first time.

It is a scary time for the city, but we hope we can come together as neighbours and friends to work together to keep each other safe, to support each other emotionally and practically through COVID-19 itself, but also the many ongoing knock on effects of the pandemic and exemplify the care, character and spirit the city is known so fondly for. Know that you are not alone, and we hope that The Floating Front Room can continue to be a space for us to safely come together across our experiences, views, postcodes and all that attempts to divide us, to keep each other safe, connected and cared for, whatever the near and extended future brings for Birmingham.

With love from Andy, Byng, Cynthia, Daniel, Danni, Immy, Indi and all of us at The Front Room.