What you can do to help your community during the COVID-19 outbreak

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The information in this article is accurate as of April 14th, 2020. Please consult your local government rules for guidance about physical distancing orders and restrictions on movement that may affect your ability to volunteer.

As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, people are making every effort to bring it under control and reduce the spread. While physical distancing and following any lockdown rules in your area are a great help, you may naturally ask yourself what more you can do to help make a difference in your community.

Lending a hand

There are many ways you can get involved and give your time to causes that can benefit people during the pandemic.

Find a local volunteer group. Check with your council or MP’s office for local charity organizations and shelters. Many places like food pantries need additional help packing food parcels or making deliveries. In other areas, people have banded together through WhatsApp groups or on NextDoor or social media.

Check in on your elderly or vulnerable neighbours in-person. Take a few minutes to knock on the door of people you know who may be isolating. You could offer to help with food shopping, pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy, or walk their dog. Be sure to stand back two metres to maintain physical distance to maintain your safety and the safety of the other person. It’s a good idea just to check in via phone or text message to see if a neighbour needs anything. Remember though that governments around the world advise us to only leave our homes if it is essential. Exceptions are made for front line healthcare workers, essential employees of certain businesses, groceries, medical appointments, health emergencies, and those caring for sick loved ones. 

Pick up the phone. If you already have your hands full with your work or domestic responsibilities, you may still want to help in your spare moments. A local charity may have a list of vulnerable or lonely people who would appreciate a telephone call. Sometimes the offer or gesture can provide significant moral support.

If you have special skills, consider offering your help. If you are a former or retired doctor, nurse, or caregiver, you may wish to offer your expertise. Look for government initiatives that will match your professional skills with a role that will support an area of your community that is under strain.

Support local business. Many small businesses are running out of cash with the collapse in local shopping. Help them stay afloat by asking if they provide a delivery service or if you can buy tokens or gift cards for future purchases. If you are ordering take away food, request no contact delivery service to keep both delivery people and yourself safe. If you have to pick up food it is advisable to wear a mask and gloves.

Donate to charitable organizations. It is more important now than ever to support charities as cancelled events and closed shops mean that they are missing out on fundraising opportunities. Homeless shelters, food banks, and cargiving organizations are also facing increasing demand, and any lockdown measures increase the risk of those who are vulnerable to abuse in their homes. If you do make a donation, look for reputable organizations that operate transparently so that you know where your money is going.

Spreading positive thinking

While some will experience tragedy during this pandemic, this is also a time to reflect on the good that you see seen emerging around you. Your greatest contribution to your community’s safety may be the role you play as an agent of calm and positivity.

Remember to practise kindness every day. Avoid spreading panic and unsubstantiated information on social media. Meditate, practise mindfulness, or pray. Write letters to people you care about but haven’t contacted in a long time. Make connections with those around you through technology.

Be sure to bear in mind that this crisis will eventually pass.

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