I’m a member of the Lighthouse Church. Over lockdown I was involved with the sports activities as a participant. It's something a member of the Church brought to everyone. They set challenges every month, targets for walking certain distances. It was voluntary, but it's something I thought was a good idea. I felt like, ‘Okay, I need to be a bit fitter, and with the Covid, if you’re vulnerable, you won't fare well with it.’ That made me try and get myself a bit fitter. So, I got involved.
Personally, I liked it because of the nature of my work. I’m a nurse. It's work to home, work to home. Given the nature of our work, you are on your feet a lot. And it looks like you're exercising, but you aren't really. By the time you come home you’re tired, you just want to put up your feet. The last thing you want to do is more exercise. This was an opportunity to do that extra thing and look forward to it.
The experience was good. The way it was set up, as a challenge, made it motivating. Given Covid, and everyone putting on so much weight, it was really the time. And the streets were empty, you almost had the outdoors to yourself, so you could go about without feeling like you were putting other people at risk, or yourself. It was definitely beneficial, during lockdown, the walking challenge. Very timely. Something to get us out, given that there wasn't a lot going on.
Previously, I’ve not been a very physically active person. I don't like exercise and things like that. But I gave it a go. And I liked it, actually it was the only way, I felt, to get me out. I need that extra push. It was having that support and knowing that other people are doing it. And having a target. So it did change my mind and convince me that actually, this is something I need to do.
I feel like I need to continue doing it because it was definitely helpful health-wise, you feel better in yourself. It puts you in a better mood, and it's a distraction. We met up with each other separately too, you cross paths with people. So it's good for your psychology, for your mental health. And definitely good for your physical health too. I found I even slept better. You have these very deep, nice sleeps.
If you are a nurse, you do need something like that, you do need to recoup, doing the exercise. I guess it's one of those things you know you need to do, but you never get around to doing it, even though you know the benefits of exercise. But for some of us it's harder than others. It's one of those things I just put off. I will do it. I will. But then something actually comes along and makes you do it, so that was a good thing.
I think it was also knowing you're doing it with other people. That was the motivation that helped push things along. And I think what made it especially good was the lady who was running it, she’s called Emma. She’s a really good motivator. She created this group, where people chatted and kept in touch. It was more fun than exercise. She made it really interesting, so even on the days you couldn’t walk for whatever reason, you felt like you've missed out on something. It was a good experience that I wish had carried on a bit longer. I missed it when it stopped. Now they brought in the gym. I don't know, they figured people are tired of this and they need something different.
I've been part of the Church congregation for nearly five years. I first arrived in England around 2014, I was in Salisbury then Reading. I was married to someone who was in the army, so we did move around a lot. Then I moved to Banbury at the end of 2016, and when I first moved I met a lady who introduced me to the Church. She was of African nature, lovely, you know, one of those people who picks up on the fact that you’re new and you need to be shown around. Yes, she did orient me and she was honestly God-sent. So she invited me to the Church and eventually I made my way there.
It's a small church, a small community – everyone knows everyone. But also the Church has different departments. And I'm involved in some of those things as well. So we do things together, mostly voluntary. Who can help with this? Who can organise that? Things like that. It is a good support network. It's majority Africans, and of course that gives you a lot in common, but there's people from other ethnicities, so it's a good blend. People get along very well.
My life started to make sense, I think, to settle down properly when I moved to Banbury. I am honestly in a good place, compared to when I first arrived. Things have progressed well and I've settled in. The Church has a lot of good people. I do have two girls, so they’ve helped me a lot with them, I’ve had a lot of support. And these are people not even from my home country. But you know how Africans are – they do help a lot! So there is this sense of belonging. I like that the Church comes up with a lot of programmes to keep people in each other's lives. So you're never lonely. You're never on your own.