How to help people in your community at the moment

-Mar 18, Jenny Paul , Health -

During times of crisis it can be hard to think of others, because it’s natural to consider our own needs first when we’re stressed and anxious. But, the beauty of helping others is once you stop thinking about yourself, you start to feel happier, more fulfilled and less worried. You also genuinely make others’ lives better, so it’s a win, win situation. We’ve taken a look at how to take the focus off ourselves at the moment and share some love and kindness

First things first, stay home 

The experts are all advising us to stay home, because it’s the most effective way to stop the coronavirus spreading. Be mindful before you leave the house for a packet of cookies, or because you’re bored, as you could be inadvertently infecting vulnerable people, whose immune systems aren’t equipped to fight this virus.

Many people are testing positive for COVD-19, yet don’t have symptoms, and are potentially infecting large groups of people – all from one single source.

Yes, it’s a lovely idea to send your children over to spend time reading with an elderly neighbour, but are you sure they’ve not been exposed to this virus in the past couple of weeks? It’s best to set the kids and the neighbour up to spend time together over FaceTime.

If the kids infect the neighbour and they then infect everyone that visits them that could be as many as 30 people in a single week, which is why this is spreading so fast. So, don’t take risks, and stay at home as much as possible. If you must go outside, try to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other people. 

You can still help people 

If you’re going to the shops to stock up on groceries, why not shop for your elderly neighbour as well? Ask what they need (remember to keep a safe distance and be stringent with careful hand washing) and drop the groceries off, as well as any prescriptions they need picking up. You could also get their phone number and call them for a chat in the evening, when feelings of loneliness and isolation often creep in. 

Dame Vera Lynn, who entertained the troops during the war, says: ‘In these uncertain times, I am taken back to my time during World War Two, when we all pulled together and looked after each other.

‘It is this spirit that we all need to find again to weather the storm of the coronavirus (COVID-19). It’s important to remain positive, keep calm and follow the sensible advice provided by the Government at this difficult time.’

If you have friends or colleagues who are isolating on their own, is there a way you can help them to feel less lonely and stressed? A phone call makes all the difference to raise spirits, especially if you can make them feel heard if they’re worried, but then move on to lighter, funnier subjects, or planning what you’ll do together after this is all over.  

Join your local mutual aid network 

Local aid networks are springing up all over the globe to help people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, which tends to present more severely in older people and those with pre-existing conditions. They’re also helping out with childcare during the day, doing grocery runs plus food deliveries and periodic check-ins for seniors and other vulnerable neighbours. And they’re raising money to help out those who need it urgently. 

‘We are in a situation where people are panicking, and understandably so,’ says Natacia Knapper, an mutual aid network organiser in Washington. ‘The idea of mutual aid is simple: You agree to lend assistance to others, and they agree to help you, too.

‘We are trying to figure out what are the needs in terms of the physical items people need,’ says Knapper. “But also thinking about having money that we can provide to people who feel unsafe going to their job.’

Support your local community online 

Many cities, towns and villages have started dedicated Facebook pages to support their local community. It usually includes posts from farm shops that are willing to deliver fresh fruit and vegetables, restaurants that are happy to deliver great cooked food and friendly helpers who are keen to look after everyone in their area who needs it. 

Share your skills online

If you have a skill that you can share with the world then do, says Martina Sergi, who is a yoga instructor on lockdown in Italy.

She says: ‘Not everyone knows how to do yoga at home without an instructor, so my friends and I are offering free yoga classes over YouTube Live. Last week, 1,000 people tuned in, and even though I can’t actually see everyone like in a studio, the connections are powerful. I’m doing a lot of live chats on Instagram and looking for new ways to engage my online community. 

‘It’s a way to keep my mind busy. I can’t just do nothing—it will make me crazy! Lots of people are writing to me saying they are cleaning their houses, reading books they never read before, taking care of their body and cooking, things like that. People are using this free time to do something useful, which is good. I know other people are offering free classes online, and some places are offering free ebook downloads, so there are lots of people who are trying to help.’ 

Pilates instructor Maddy Karlsson is live streaming Pilates classes from her home in Costa Rica each day.

Join online support groups

You can help people just by being a part of something with them. How about joining a stay at home choir? The Stay At Home Choir is a new project by Tori Longdon, Jamie Wright and Rachel Staunton to keep our musical communities connected at a time when choirs and orchestras can’t meet to rehearse. Their first project will be a virtual BIG SING and they’ll be experimenting with live streaming and Zoom sectionals over the next days and weeks. Follow their progress by visiting www.stayathomechoir.com following them on Instagram @stayathomechoir or twitter @stayathomechoir.

If you’re launching a community or online project, let us know your stories so we can put a spotlight on them.

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