10 ways to help others during the coronavirus outbreak
Stories of people emptying supermarket shelves and duelling over loo roll paint a bleak image of humanity during the Covid-19 outbreak. But beyond the sensational stories, most people want to pull together and help. As social distancing becomes the norm, here are 10 tips to boost solidarity
1) 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 (and counting) mutual aid groups across the UK. Since it became clear that the coronavirus outbreak was going to have a big impact, their number has rocketed.
Groups have established across the country, from Kinloss in the Scottish Highlands to Lanner in Cornwall. Find your local one here and get in touch to see how you can best contribute.
The aim? 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 people with a long-term health condition. “We really just want to make sure that people don’t end up suffering alone,” says Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators of the national network.
Nothing where you live? Consider setting up a local group. Covid-19 Mutual Aid, whose website is packed with advice on how to get started, says the smaller the better – so it could be set up to support your street even. Find out more here.
A volunteer delivers leaflets offering help as part of the Caledonian and Barnsbury Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group in London.
2) Funds for the future: buy a voucher from a struggling local business
With footfall virtually disappearing overnight as the government advises the public to stay at home, some local businesses are unlikely to survive. But others will, and you can support the ones in your community that mean a lot to you. Many are offering gift vouchers, which will give them a short-term cash boost while you have the happy prospect of spending these once life returns to something approaching normal.
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 while shopping for supplies – and see if you can order from them online or over the phone. While the well-padded supermarkets are likely to weather the storm, your cash-strapped independent outlets may not.
Many customers have already tried to help, say business owners, such as the person who paid upfront for 25 servings of his favourite order of pancakes and coffee at this cafe in Newcastle.
If a business you care about or work for needs help attracting advance purchases, Crowdfunder is currently offering a solution. The crowdfunding website has made its platform available for free to small businesses that want to pre-sell their services. Through a campaign called Pay It Forward, Crowdfunder is also partnering with Enterprise Nation to provide access to free training for small businesses, to help with online sales, cashflow support and legal support.
Local businesses are likely to experience cashflow problems during the outbreak. Could you buy from them?
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