The Monday storytelling group has been meeting weekly on zoom throughout the pandemic. Little did we imagine, when Lockdown 1.0 began on 23 March 2020, that a year on we’d still be meeting in 2D – two dimensions rather than three. Eating together, crowding into Highgate Library, throwing around an orange (our way of choosing a speaker when everyone is clamouring to speak)– all this seems like another era.

But we still enjoy each other’s company. We chat and laugh on screen almost as much as we did in the library. One of our members said recently: “It’s been a terrible year, but when we meet on zoom, I am happy.” 

Happiness is a precious gift in COVID times. At one of our meetings, a member said thoughtfully: “Living is very hard if there isn’t an opening for hope.” We agreed that this is crucial for people in the challenging circumstances of migration, and now the pandemic.

We nurture hope in each other, and one of our members wrote an inspiring poem that he read to us on zoom:


Three things will remain:

Love, faith and hope

Hope doesn’t deceive you

Hope brightens the darkness

Coronavirus is the darkness

Hope is like the brightness

Everything will pass

Hope will still be the Spring in the Winter

2020 year has passed

2021 year is the year of hope.

Others have expressed hope in images, and we have been helped in this by the wonderful artist Dima Karout, who led a workshop for the Cotton Tree called Art and Conversation. Over a period of four weeks, we talked about the meaning of bridges, connection, conflict, cities, home, and much more. We were guided by stories of London and Damascus, colours and shapes, and Dima’s own very striking art.

Coming from Syria, Dima understands a good deal of what our members have gone through. She helped us to appreciate that simplicity is within everyone’s reach. It can be attractive and meaningful. 

We are planning an exhibition: watch this space! Here are some beautiful images that the group produced.