As coronavirus spreads and the UK government urges people to work from home and reduce social contact, a growing wave of kind acts within the community are helping to boost morale and protect the most vulnerable. Here are some of the best ideas:
Postcards through doors
A print-at-home template for a postcard is being circulated on social media, designed to provide support for elderly neighbours. You fill in your name, address and phone number and offer a selection of things you can help with, ranging from a friendly phone call to urgent supplies. Download the template or search the hashtag #viralkindness. No printer at home? Try making your own postcards and bring a bit of creativity into the day.
Join a Facebook or other community group
In these times of isolation and health anxiety, Facebook has come to the fore, and specifically Facebook groups that connect like-minded or local communities. Whether it’s a customer community like the Riverford Tribe, where discussions cover recipe ideas and how to use up leftover veg, or a local neighbourhood Facebook page to help support in your community, find one that suits you and join for advice, tips and local information. Climate activists Extinction Rebellion have also mobilised their networks to help offer coronavirus support, offering help through leaflets and Whatsapp groups.
Prioritise the elderly
Avoiding social contact with elderly people at higher risk from coronavirus doesn’t mean ignoring them altogether. Now is the time to check in with a friendly phone call to grandparents and other relatives, whose worlds are suddenly restricted to their own houses. For a grander gesture, take inspiration from the group of American children who serenaded their self-isolating elderly neighbour with an impromptu concert. Offer to do the shopping for an elderly neighbour or share news of an initiative by Iceland who has opened branches for an hour exclusively for elderly people, and called on other supermarkets to follow its lead.
Start a letterbox book club
Stuck at home for self isolation? Why not start a neighbourhood book swap scheme, posting a book through the letterbox and encourage the chain to continue. Or go one step further and trade food, spices, seeds, tools or even poems. It’s amazing how little gestures of neighbourly support can help ease the long hours and help rediscover a little touch of humanity on the other side of a wall.
Crowdfund to help the community
There are some amazing stories of charities, food banks, and other volunteers stepping up to help those who are already on the frontline of any crisis. Some business, like this cookery school in Hackney, have switched from providing classes to providing a free food delivery service. Search for local charities that you could help with or support them virtually through donating to a crowdfunder.
It’s a worrying time for everyone and that worry can translate into stress, which is taken out on friends, or strangers, particularly online. Instead, make it your mission to brighten someone’s day – show your appreciation for those who are still working, providing vital healthcare, teachers, and those involved in food supply, along with many others. Think before you vent your frustrations and be kind to others who are all facing the same concerns. Simply being kind is free and can make all the difference to someone’s mental health.