Image © Farisai Dzemwa

How my community healed from the Covid-19 pandemic through laughter

As weeks have rolled into months then months into a year that is now heading towards two years, stress, anxiety and depression due to the limitations that covid has introduced has  been rising.

This has put a lot of pressure on health service providers such as the NHS’ general and mental health services, with increased visits to these services by members of the public for treatment, healing and in some cases for assistance establishing coping strategies.

Most of these services have been struggling due to staff shortages as well which just increases the concerns all round. 

That’s why a community of migrants in the West Midlands have decided to take the bull by the horns and play their part in alleviating the ripple effects of the isolation, exclusion and loneliness that have come with the pandemic.

From March 2021, a stand up comedy project was initiated to facilitate Community Social Healing. 

Image © Farisai Dzemwa

A group of migrants from diverse backgrounds started meeting via Zoom to train as stand up comedians. This was to facilitate ongoing social engagement, confidence building and above all to prevent the ill health that can be caused by stress, loneliness and isolation.

To complete the training a four day stand up comedy event was arranged in Coventry to coincide with its City Of Cultures celebrations.

Participants from Coventry,  Birmingham and Wolverhampton staged their first ever performance from Thursday the 24th to Sunday the 27th of June in front of both a virtual audience via Zoom and some in-person audience at The Tin which is based at the Coventry Çanal Basin. 

With rehearsals and practice going on since Tuesday 22nd of June, laughter and comradeship has been the order of each day emphasizing the spirit of innovation that is the theme of  Coventry's City Of Culture festival this year.

Image © Farisai Dzemwa

I  had the pleasure of being invited to be one of the participants: my very own first attempt at this art of stand up comedy. The laughter I  heard over the four days has been both exciting and confidence building, helping us forget the stress of Covid-19 and its limiting ripple effects. Even the masks and social distancing has not spoilt our pleasure that much.

Many of the participants and their attending family members echoed my sentiments, while the cheering of the audience has been confirmation that the event has served them well too. Laughter should be known as a pleasurable healing activity.

Laughter has been known to be a strong medicine that draws people closer which is good for physical and emotional health. Laughter strengthens the immune system, boosts the mood and can diminish pain. It can protect you from the damaging effects of stress too.

The last four months of training, practicing, rehearsing and then the final stand-up comedy gig has proved research quite right as I have seen my knee pain greatly reduced, the stress of Covid-19 limitations was completely forgotten when I was performing.

I would encourage you to challenge yourself and combat your stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, illness and above all isolation by trying this art of stand-up comedy even if you have never done it before.

About the author

I am a mature, passionate and driven black woman who has learned to integrate lived life experiences, formal education and observations to establish an approach to life that is beneficial to myself and those around me.

I’m a certified NLP Practitioner and a Mental Health professional. In addition I am a Community Health Champion, community Covid-19 vaccine champion and Community Journalist. My positions in my community helps me to contribute to my passion for integrated communities and society as we step into a globalised world. I am also a facilitator of wellness in my community through.

Writing and storytelling is part of what my way of helping more people be aware of the issues that communities face that impact economies in ways that are rarely explored.

Migration to me was not necessarily all about economic benefit. I moved to England on the run from the ripple effects of trauma. I believed l was coming here to find myself so l could give my son the real, fearless me so he would not have to live in fear too. I did find myself here, yet the process came with its own challenges and traumas.

This article is part of our Voices of the Economy series. The project brings together the economic experiences and opinions of people from a range of different backgrounds and showcases voices which are not heard as often when we talk about the economy. To find out more and share your own story click here.

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