1 July 2021

Reflections on lockdown: Ruth Ibegbuna

Ruth is a black woman wearing a blue head scarf. She is smiling against a golden background.

Result CIC advisor Ruth Ibegbuna on what a year in lockdown has taught her. Photo by Rob Martin.

My role with Result CIC is that of an Advisor. We all meet a few times a year in Jane or Hormoz’s kitchen. We eat (very) well, laugh a lot, indulge the growing menagerie of delightful pets and talk excitedly about strategy and the opportunities ahead. It's the best kind of work because it is basically helping good friends excel at what they do best.

We all share many of the same values and are restless in our quest for real inclusion for those left on the margins, whether through disability, mental health, refugee and asylum status, ethnicity, sexuality - there are so many out there who are just never invited into the main rooms. Result CIC exists to see, hear, encourage and champion those on the periphery. To provide the coaching and connection needed for people to know that they matter.

What I love about this work is that as a small team at Result CIC, we genuinely attempt to model the change we seek to achieve. Meetings are long and thoughtful. Care and attention is paid to all needs and it is a working space I feel I can show up to authentically.

All of us around the table have faced real challenges and the freedom to have a space in which our experiences can be brought in as strengths, as a part of who we are, with others who listen and support, allows for a different depth of connection. To talk shop, first we must talk about ourselves. It’s that rare working space where ‘how are you?’ is a genuine invitation to pause and reflect.

The year of Covid and lockdown has been surreal, scary, quiet and emotional. Endless Zoom calls, daily wholesome walks and increasing desperation in finding creative ways to stay connected to those I love. I was so much luckier than many others. I didn’t lose anyone close, my health was good, I avoided the disease. It was the classic case of ‘I can’t really complain’. And yet I truly struggled. I found the lack of interaction with friends and family completely overwhelming and distressing. As someone who tends to place herself pretty centrally in most social situations, all that falling away, so suddenly, was very tough.

My work continued, but everything was different. My role had been primarily meeting people and communicating directly with them, connecting deeply, moving all of that on to online platforms felt necessary but in no way a substitute for the real thing. For the first time (probably in my life), I felt very isolated and really quite lonely. It brought home to me quite sharply that I had no real idea how hard life must be for so many in this country - always in the shadows with no sustained interest shown in their lives. A quietly soul-destroying solo drama, replaying everyday.

As we start to emerge from the nightmare that was, my commitment is to keep hold of how I felt when locked down when we plan future directions for Result CIC’s work. I now have increased levels of compassion for those left out of sight. Everyone needs to know that they are worthy of interest and attention. Everyone.

The challenge we have as a team is that the need for our work far outweighs our current capacity. How on earth do we prioritise which groups most need the support to thrive? Bringing groups of individuals together who have previously felt like they were going through difficulties alone, is a powerful way to kickstart the reimagining of self and possibilities. Watching groups share their experiences of marginalisation, oppression, invisibility, loss of confidence and listening to their own stories coming from others mouths, allows that first step back onto the ladder. The shared key factors - the poor support from management, the loss of confidence, the lack of opportunity to create change.

We’ll continue at Result CIC to reach out and support those who need to find their way back in, with their sense of self restored. The Pandemic has taken so much but if one legacy can be a raised awareness of the corrosive impact of isolation and marginalisation, that gives us all something we can work with.

Ruth Ibegbuna is Director of The Roots Programme and was the founder and CEO of RECLAIM. Find out more about Ruth here.

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We are Result CIC, a community interest company. We work with people who feel marginalised or excluded to become more confident about their abilities and to fulfill their potential. We also work with Directors, Managers and CEOs who need support to bring about positive change in terms of diversity and inclusion in their organisations. We each have personal experience of the issues affecting the people we work to support, including disability, immigration, mental health and sexuality. We have also worked in senior positions in industry and government.

Our vision is a society where every individual can achieve their potential, feel fulfilled and make a valuable contribution. 

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