These past few months have probably been the hardest most of us have ever experienced. Who could have guessed at the beginning of the year that the majority of 2020 would be spent in lockdown?
We began to realise what we take for granted in everyday life, even things as simple as a hug from a friend or family member. And as we begin to descend into our fourth month in lockdown, we wouldn’t blame you if your morale’s were getting low, as social distancing becomes the new normal.
It’s important as a nation that we continue to pull together and help others during the pandemic that still might be struggling… so here are 8 tips to boost solidarity and help others as we start to slowly come out from under the coronavirus outbreak!
Mobilise for morale: join a mutual aid group
From dropping off crucial supplies to making time for a friendly phone call, volunteers are being mobilised via more than 900 mutual aid groups across the UK! Since it became clear that the outbreak was going to have such a big impact, the number of mutual aid groups has rocketed.
These groups have been established wide across the country, from Lanner in Cornwall to Kinloss in the Scottish Highlands. You can find out what your local one is here to see how you can get involved!
So what exactly is the aim of this? Well, the main aim is to help the most vulnerable in society through the crisis. These include people who are self-isolating because they are elderly, those without family, people who have a disability and those with a long-term health condition.
“We really just want to make sure that people don’t end up suffering alone,”said Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators of the national network.
If there isn’t anything in your local area, you could consider setting one up! There is always someone that needs help and will appreciate the assistance and support. COVID-19 Mutual Aids website is packed with advice on how you can help others during the pandemic… even if it’s just your neighbours!
Funds for the future: helping struggling local businesses
With a major footfall decrease in stores for months now, due to the governments social distancing restrictions, some local businesses are unlikely to survive the pandemic. Many are offering gift vouchers to the public. This will not only give them a short-term cash boost, but you can look forward to spending these once life returns to something approaching ‘normal’. We all need something to look forward to, no matter how small!
Try to think local too. Unless you’re self-isolating for 14 days and unable to leave the house, consider your local butchers, grocers, or bakery whilst shopping for your goods. You could even see if you can order them online or over the phone!
We love to see customers helping out with their favourite businesses, like this story in Newcastle where this customers paid upfront for 25 orders of his favourite pancakes and coffee at this café.
If a business you care about or work for needs help attracting advance purchases, Crowdfunder is currently offering different solutions.
It doesn’t just have to be a small business, as the affects of the pandemic has unfolded, Chester Zoo has taken a huge loss having to close its doors to the public. And with just over 35,000 animals that they have to feed daily, it’s no wonder they’re going into bankruptcy! Donate just a small amount and you could help to save their zoo! Read more about it here.
Feed those in need: support a food bank
Providing a lifeline of emergency supplies, food banks are likely to become more needed than ever right now. While urging the government to help get struggling families back on their feet, consider supporting your local food bank in the meantime!
If you’re well and in a fortunate situation, you could sign up to volunteer with the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest group of food banks. In doing so, you might help to fill the gaps of existing volunteers who may have fallen ill or have to self-isolate.
Keep donating supplies as well… ask those at your local food bank what they are in need of most to find out how your small contribution can help others during the pandemic.
The write stuff: make a care home pen-pal
Bored whilst self-isolating? Missing your friends? Or just feeling the need to spread some joy?
You should consider writing letters to residents of care homes. Without being able to look forward to visitors as their family and friends stay away amid social distancing restrictions, life can become very lonely.
Around the end of March the manager of a nursing home in York shared this message inviting people to send post to stave off loneliness in the residents living there. “My residents would love to receive a letter. Remember those? Pick someone and get writing,” she wrote, before listing the names of the residents.
So why not contact your local care home or nursing home? We are sure they would love to welcome some positive, friendly posts in the coming weeks or even months.
Shared knowledge: volunteer your teaching skills to support home school parents
If you have teaching experience, you should consider offering your knowledge and skills to parents who may be turning to home schooling right up until the end of the year! Thousands of teachers have already taken to social media to support parents of all situations – a new parent, a working parent, a single parent – all of the above, by offering their help and area of experience or specialism!
A lady called Claire Balkind set up a Facebook group called Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas, which attracted more than 100,000 members in a week! As well as arts & crafts ideas, science experiments and reading studies, the group also links parents with many companies and apps to help with free learning resources!
Helping where needed: support charities and emergency appeals
Tonnes of charities out there are stepping up their vital work at this time and supporting them is a great way to help those who are most in need. Age UK provides companionship, advice and support for older people. By volunteering you can help to manage the regular ‘friendship calls’ made by people who are lonely, especially during COVID self-isolation.
Meanwhile with the constant influx of people stockpiling beauty products, Beauty Banks are asking for donations of funds and products towards their #helpinghands campaign. This supports those living in hygiene poverty in the UK.
Reaching out: keeping close contact with people who may be struggling with their mental health
You don’t realise how many people struggle on a daily basis with mental health issues, and how close to you they might be. COVID-19, has plunged the world into uncertainty and constant scary news updates about the overwhelming impact of the pandemic. This is bound to take it’s toll on people’s mental health, particularly those who are already living with conditions such as anxiety and OCD so make sure you do your part to check in!
The World Health Organisations guide to mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak includes recommendations such as avoid watching, reading and listening to news that could cause you to feel anxious or distressed. It recommends instead, mainly seeking information about how to keep yourself, your family and your loved ones safe and healthy.
The charity Anxiety UK runs a support helpline (03444 775774) while Mind offers a host of resources online. Remember, if you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, please talk to someone.
Life on the margins: help the homeless to better protect themselves
According to experts, the homeless face a particular risk from COVID-19, it’s possible that their immune systems are weaker in general due to their living situations.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive of the charity Crisis, has urged the government to introduce testing and emergency housing for homeless people during the pandemic. “Let’s not forget that the average age of death of someone who is homeless is 45, substantially lower than the general population,” he said “Given the obvious vulnerability, the only answer can be to provide housing that allows them to self-isolate safely.
There are actions we can take as individuals to help. One is to donate high quality antibacterial hand sanitiser, as people who sleep on the streets are likely unable to wash their hands regularly. Everyone deserves to be safe and healthy.
Help, support, donate and care!
We will pull through this if we work together. So please do what you can to help others during the pandemic, support local businesses, donate where you can, care where you can and we will come out of this stronger!
If you are struggling to get to grips with the health routines and it’s making you nervous when doing your everyday jobs… including using cash… take a look at our blog Is Coronavirus spreading through cash?