Posted on Fri 27 Mar 2020 at 12:40 by Christopher Carter
Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of people have offered their time to help global and national efforts to stop the spread and support those who are most vulnerable to its effects. While I can’t list all of the countless volunteer groups currently working hard across the country (though there’s a pretty comprehensive list of local groups at https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/), I thought I’d give you a few ideas for how you can help your communities throughout the pandemic.
If I’ve missed anything below, I’d love to hear from you – just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
NHS Volunteer Responders
This week, the NHS has issued a call for volunteers to help vulnerable people stay safe and well at home. NHS Volunteer Responders can be called on to do simple but vital tasks such as:
Delivering medicines from pharmacies;
Driving patients to appointments;
Bringing them home from hospital;
Making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
GPs, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, midwives, NHS 111 advisers and social care staff will all be able to request help for their at-risk patients via a call centre run by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), who will match people who need help with volunteers who live near to them.
You can sign up quickly and easily at goodsamapp.org/NHS.
Coventry and Warwick: National Health Supporters
More locally, a group of Coventry and Warwick volunteers have come together to offer further, more informal support to healthcare workers in the area – whether this be child/pet care or more general help with groceries and errands.
You can join the group on Facebook HERE.
COVID-19 Mutual Aid
Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local groups organise aid for their communities to help the most vulnerable with errands, information distribution and emotional comfort.
Surrounding the University of Warwick, we have two Mutual Aid groups:
If you’re no longer local, head here to find the group closest to you: https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups/
Help out your local foodbank
Those people who were already vulnerable before the outbreak will probably feel its effects hardest and longest, so it’s essential that - when able - we continue contributing to foodbanks (Warwick District foodbank donation points are all listed here, and Coventry foodbank donation points are here). If you can, try not to just make it a single donation, as the impacts of this outbreak will probably be felt long into the future. Some essential items you should consider donating are listed here.
Warwick District foodbank also needs volunteers to pack and sort donations on Friday mornings between 9:30-11am at the storage unit in the car park of All Saints Church, Warwick, CV34 5NJ. Email Miriam at email@example.com if you’d like to help out.
If you’re unable to leave the house, you can also donate money online here to enable them to buy essential supplies. You can make a one-off donation or start to donate regularly.
Similarly, you can help out Coventry foodbank by taking on various roles outlined here – or, if you’d like to donate money, the details are all here. Warwick Volunteers are able to cover travel expenses for students wanting to assist with the foodbank – please contact them for details.
Don’t forget about the homeless
The homeless are another group who are extremely vulnerable to the virus. As usual, offering to buy a homeless person a hot drink or nutritious meal won't go unappreciated, but if you have spare hand sanitiser, giving some to a homeless person who is unable to wash their hands often would be a great help.
While it is obviously sad that it takes something like the current crisis to initiate such a measure, it’s heartening to hear that the government has asked local authorities in England to house all rough sleepers and those sleeping in hostels and night shelters. If you see a homeless person sleeping rough, contact Streetlink or your local council.
It’s important to remember that people are suffering from many other illnesses during this period, and blood donations help save thousands of these lives every year. Unfortunately, the number of blood donors has dropped off as a result of the crisis. The NHS has asked everyone to “keep donating”, with the reminder that “blood centres are open and any travel restrictions do not stop you giving blood.”
Find out how you can donate here.
Coronavirus Tutoring Initiative
This initiative was set up in light of the pandemic to ensure that no child loses out on their education due to school closures. Students from universities across the country are volunteering to teach children from families who can’t afford private tutoring. If you’d like to join them, sign up to become a tutor here.
Reach out to your neighbours
Your neighbours may also need support if they are self-isolating, elderly or have difficulty accessing local facilities. Even simple things, like offering to take out the bins, could be a huge help to vulnerable households (they can place their bin bags outside their doors for collection).
Warwick SU has created a version of the Kindness Card idea if you'd like to help out those in need. Just download a printout copy here and slip it through your neighbours’ doors.
If you live in an apartment building, you could also create a communal shopping rota. Place a sign-up sheet in a lobby/common area of the building requesting email/phone contact information of those who’d like to participate and contact them with questions about time availability to set up a schedule.
Reach out to family and friends
Simply reaching out to your loved ones right now, whether that be to offer help with food deliveries or just for a chat, can make this difficult period feel significantly more bearable. Staying connected is more important now than ever, and we’re lucky to have so many virtual tools at our disposal to facilitate this – so, grab a cup of tea and give your friends and family a call!
Some great group video call apps/sites include:
Look after yourself!
Remember that the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to ensure you’re protecting yourself. Wash your hands, follow the guidelines on social distancing and take care of yourself – make sure you have a read of Tiana’s blog for her tips on staying in good physical and mental shape during self-isolation, as well as the CDC’s recommendations for preventative measures for containing the virus.
Times are undeniably tough right now, but it’s been really heartwarming to see so many communities pulling together to help out. Do what you can to help those around you, but make sure you’re always looking after yourself first.
Wishing you all the best!