As lockdown continues, supporting our community during coronavirus has never been so important. Suddenly, when there’s only so far we can go, the people and the businesses nearest to us became all the more visible and relevant to our daily lives.
If you’re staying self and healthy – and maybe have some more free time on your hands – what can you do to help? The NHS’s initial call for volunteer responders had more than 750,000 sign ups. This is obviously incredible, and more help will be needed, but for now applications are on hold while the first lot are processed.
Many volunteering efforts are overloaded with people offering to help, so if you didn’t get in the door fast enough, what can you actually do to help?
It almost goes without saying, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re following all the social distancing guidelines and making sure you’re staying as safe as possible.
Then, small actions can make a big difference, from supporting independent businesses to checking in with at-risk people in your area.
Whether you’re happy to pick up medical supplies for those that can’t leave their home or want to support your local restaurants by ordering a takeaway (yes, really, it helps!) here are a few ideas to get you started.
Supporting your community during coronavirus:
8 ways you can help
1. Sign up to your local mutual aid group
There are thousands of local Mutual Aid groups across the country, where you can offer or request support, from help with food shopping to picking up medicine. Brilliantly, groups are fairly oversubscribed but it’s good to be on hand in case your turn to help comes.
Even if you can’t get into a group, you can provide the same help to neighbours on your own – drop in a note and offer to go food shopping, collect medication or simply to stay in touch with those who might be isolated or anxious.
Those who are especially vulnerable can be nervous of taken advantage of by strangers, so a familiar face means a lot.
2. Support the charities providing emergency support to the vulnerable
There are plenty of websites that can put you in touch with local charities, like Volunteer Centre or do-it.com. Simply sign up and say what you can do, and you’ll be put in touch with relevant people.
Many charities will be stretched due to lack of income that would normally come from fundraising. Just choosing to donate to a charity that’s important to you will make a difference, or you could sign up to be a trustee.
The CharityJob website is another great resource for volunteering opportunities.
3. Support your local independent businesses by continuing to buy from them
Try to avoid buying everything from food deliveries unless you’re vulnerable or at risk – this will free up availability for those that really need it. If you can, think about supporting your community during coronavirus by choosing to buy your food from local shops. Many restaurants have pivoted to sell their suppliers’ produce, too, Franks Café and Top Cuvée in Highbury among them. Eating in never felt so good!
4. Check out what your local restaurants are doing
While some restaurants are offering takeaway and delivery services – and we would definitely recommend buying from these when you can – others have shut their doors are putting their kitchen space to good use. The likes of Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, Berber & Q, Yard Sale Pizza, Mildreds and Lina Stores have started fundraisers so they can provide meals to those in need, and keep their staff employed while they’re at it.
5. Buy a bouquet of flowers
Bring a ray of sunshine into someone’s life by buying them some flowers from independent florist I Think That You Are Magic. Not only are you supporting small business, but the florist if giving a whopping £10 from every bouquet to frontline charities like Crisis, Age UK, Young Minds UK, Shelter and more.
6. Check if your favourite theatre is streaming performances
So, it’s not quite the same as a night at the theatre, but you can still support your local institutions by watching a streamed version of one of their productions.
The Globe is letting people rent Shakespearean favourites like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet, or you can even watch the premieres online as they happen for free – a donation is, of course, always appreciated, though.
If you fancy something more new school, dramatic genius Phoebe Waller-Bridge has teamed up with Soho Theatre to stream the on-stage version of her smash hit Fleabag. Tickets for the real deal were rumoured to be going for as much as £600, but you can donate as little as £4 to watch it from the comfort of your own sofa. Your money will be going frontline charities and to support theatre workers currently out of work.
7. Keep in touch with your neighbours
Another way to keep in touch with neighbours is the Nextdoor App, which is like a social network for your local community. It was originally intended to let people know about goings-on in the local area, but it’s rapidly become a lifeline for the isolated during the corona crisis.
8. Donate blood
Last, but definitely not least, you can still donate blood. Hospitals are more in need than ever. Travelling to donate is permitted because it’s considered essential. Find out where you can help here.