International Day of Families 2020

belonging communities covid19 diversity family inclusion international day of families May 15, 2020

Founded by the United Nations in 1994, The International Day of Families is observed on May 15 every year.   It’s a day to celebrate the importance of families in all corners of the world.   Families of course can mean different things to us all.   For most our thoughts may take us towards our immediate family.  However, it’s also those who we association with, or have a wider relationship with whom we also regard as ‘family’. This might be friends, colleagues, neighbours, communities, carers and not forgetting our pets.    This year more than ever as we are socially distanced from others, our ‘families’ are more important to us than ever.

We’ve seen acts of kindness as people have volunteered to help others outside of their immediate family.  Whether this be checking in on those shielding, getting in food and medical supplies.   Signing up to the NHS Volunteer scheme, switching professions and delivering essential food supplies, or sewing for the NHS.   You’ve all shown tremendous kindness to members of your wider societal family.

Our current health situation will have provided an opportunity for many (including me) to pause and reflect.   To consider what makes up a family and what family really means.    Every family of course being different and defined in so many different ways.   As well as the family who you will have a blood connection with its also about wider family.   Some consider those who accept, value and appreciate you for who you are to be family.  The people who are in your life, but also want you to be part of theirs too are often considered family.   It’s the ones who check to see that you are ok.  Those who encourage you to live your best life and are genuinely pleased for your achievements.   Those who listen to you without judgement.  Those who hold up the mirror and who are honest yet kind. Those who hold you to account and encourage you to shine brightly because they know you are capable of more.   These are all family.

Each family unit is also unique - some families comprise children, parents, stepparents, siblings, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents, whilst others do not.   International Day of Families is about more than just celebrating those who share DNA with you—it’s about celebrating all of the people you love.

Sadly, Covid19 has claimed the lives of too many people.  The void for many families and wider communities is vast.   Social distancing has meant that many families have been separated and still continue to be apart.   Whilst some may have welcomed the solitude of social distancing, as a human race we typically have a strong desire to connect with others and to feel a sense of belonging.  Today take the time to think about what family means to you.   Consider your immediate family and take time to share with them what they mean to you.   Reach out to your friends – technology has removed so many barriers and provided an array of ways in which we can communicate with friends across all corners of the world.    There might be colleagues that you work with or families in your community that you’d value getting to know more – today take the time to think about how you might go about doing this.  

Today is also a day to not only reflect on your own family but to consider the challenges which other families are facing too.  Covid19 has continued to shine a spotlight on some of the socio-economic challenges that are faced by families around the world.  Many families continue to deal with issues like poverty, a lack of health care, financial uncertainty, mental health, domestic abuse, child abuse and unemployment.

Strong communities are created when families (in the broader sense) come together as one and therefore having a greater awareness and better understanding some of these challenges can enable us to work together to create a better, kinder world.  

So, to my family, friends, colleagues, networks, neighbours, connections (now and in the future) I thank you for being my family.  For sharing your wisdom, friendship, love and laughter.  For educating me about your unique difference and above all for accepting and valuing mine.



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