At a time of huge personal sacrifice being made in particular by front line workers in the NHS, I’m sure many of you are thinking about what you can do to help. Whilst I do not claim to be an expert, I have compiled a list of some of the options I’ve come across during my own research. Hopefully these will help, I’ve tried to include all the links you need to make it as easy as possible to take action. If there is anything I’ve missed and you think would be worth adding them please drop me an email here or DM me on Instagram.
8 ways you can help in your community
1) Follow the advice
I couldn’t not put this one in. In fact it’s so important I think it would be negligent to leave it out. That’s even though I’m pretty certain that everyone taking the time to read this will be taking this very seriously. But just in case, please follow the advice! It is the single most important thing we can all do to save lives. The latest Government guidance on the lockdown can be found here for anyone that wants a reminder. It also gives more detail around specific cases for example if you co-parent with a partner that you don’t live with. You are also able to help vulnerable people with essentials. But basically, stay at home.
2) Donate to a food bank
Thankfully the Government has put in place extraordinary measures to help secure jobs and income for employees. But food banks are still expecting increased demand over the coming months whilst food donations have dwindled. They are also experiencing a volunteer shortage. So what can you do?
- Buy some extra items and leave them in the food bank trolleys in your local supermarket
- You can find your nearest Trussell Trust foodbank here or an independent foodbank here. You can either donate food or your time (providing you are well and do not live with someone who is more vulnerable, social distancing guidelines should still be followed as far as practicable)
- If you are unable to get to a foodbank or concerned about buying in bulk in the current environment you can also donate money. Trussell Trust (the largest network of food banks) accepts online donations here. Local food banks may be able to accept donations although they may need to be by cash/cheque
- If you are donating food you should try to check what that particular food bank needs most as this changes. The types of good generally required can be found here, they also give out non-food items like toiletries.
In terms of the lockdown, the Trussell Trust has stated the following:
“The latest government advice explains food banks can legally continue operating and buildings that host food banks can continue to open for those sessions, provided we follow social distancing rules, because your work qualifies you as key workers ‘caring for the vulnerable’.”
3) Let vulnerable neighbours know you can help
If you want to let your neighbours know you can help, a very thoughtful woman from Cornwall, Becky Wass, created the postcard below. Simply fill it out and put through doors. You can right click on the image below and hit “save as image’ to print at home.
If you are self-isolating, a couple from Birmingham have also created posters which you can use to flag whether you have the virus and whether you need help. Ray Barrett and wife Linda said it was a “very simple” way for “the community to protect the community” You can download them here.
4) Join a mutual aid group in your community
People are setting up or joining existing groups and doing amazing things to support the community including delivering shopping and subscriptions, or cheering up the elderly with wild flower drops. Making sure community leaders are involved to try to plug in to existing schemes is helpful. If these groups can make sure adult social care is aware of the most vulnerable is also helpful. You can find a list of existing groups through the Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK website.
Note that this work will continue in locktown with volunteers to be used to distribute food and other essentials to the £1.5m extremely vulnerable people.
5) Support small local businesses
Make a list of the local cafes, restaurants and pubs that you would normally use and check if they are doing a delivery service. So many are finding innovative ways to keep going so if we can support them whilst sticking to the guidelines on social distancing it could make a huge difference. Not only will these small businesses survive, but your local area will recover more quickly once all of this is over. So order in breakfast, lunch, dinner or afternoon tea! Or send some cakes to a neighbour that is self-isolating!
Here is a list of essential shops that can remain open (source: The Telegraph):
Shops that are exempt from the Government’s ban are food retailers, pharmacies, hardware stores, corner shops, petrol stations, shops in hospital, post offices, banks, newsagents, laundrettes and pet shops.
6) Do not stockpile!
Bulk-buying essential food and other goods is selfish and is keeping vulnerable and key workers including exhausted NHS staff from getting the vital supplies they need. We have a stable food supply but the supermarkets just can’t stock the shelves fast enough. Buying enough food for a week, if you can, has been said to be ideal as it cuts down on interaction without stockpiling.
7) Check in with people who live alone
Think about who in your network may be isolating at home on their own and give them a ring, skype or even just drop them a text. Loneliness will be an increasing problem over this period so let’s all look out for each other. If you want to make it more fun, host virtual drinks or dinner parties through apps like Zoom or Houseparty.
8) Donate blood
Although stocks remain good, the NHS will need donors to continue coming in for appointments. They have taken the appropriate precautions so that this can continue in as safe a manner as possible.
The NHS has stressed that people can still leave their homes to donate blood. An NHS Blood and Transplant spokesman has said:
People can still donate blood. Giving blood is classed as a medical need and a form of helping vulnerable people. It is essential to patients and the NHS. If you are fit and well, please keep donating as normal.
(Source: The Guardian)
Further advice on giving blood at this time is here.
Finally, remember to look after yourself too
Those are just a few ideas about how we can all help. But you absolutely do not need to do all of them, putting extra pressure on ourselves at a time when anxiety is running high is not helpful either. So remember to look after yourself as well. If you have anything you think would be worth adding to the list please drop me an email or DM me on Instagram. Also, please let me know if you think I have got anything wrong here, it’s important that this is all as accurate as it can be.