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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on the importance of empathy right now.

A close up of two people holding handsA few days ago I was taking part in an online conference on healthcare chaplaincy. I was in conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby who has been volunteering as a chaplain at St Thomas’ hospital in central London. During the conversation we spoke of the value we place on certain jobs and how important it was to recognise the significance of healthcare chaplaincy in the whole healthcare and hospital environment.

Covid-19 has made us rethink our appreciation of certain jobs especially those which have always been viewed as low profile or low-skilled but it’s also shone a light on those who don’t always receive the recognition they deserve. As we were talking, some of the chaplains commented that over the past few months, they had felt very appreciated by hospital medical  staff  who saw them as part of a collegial team.

In these difficult times, it’s so important to show empathy and appreciation to everyone who works in an organisation.  As more of us work from home, we can’t simply assume that people’s domestic settings are always a safe and productive working environment and our expectation of competence should also be accompanied by a show of compassion. It seems to me that we must learn to be patient, recognise individual struggle and come together as a collective organisation in mutual support. Sometimes, it can simply mean checking in on others with a hello and a smile. And while many of us may feel we are ready to return to a full university life, if we feel anxious and unsettled, let’s be kind to ourselves. After all, it’s difficult to value others if we don’t first value ourselves.

Photography: LaylaBird/GettyImages