How to help your community during the Coronavirus outbreak

The Coronavirus crisis has left many of us feeling anxious and helpless. Daily life looks suddenly, radically different: dinners at our favourite restaurants, coffee dates and dozens more pleasures we took for granted are on hold.

It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed in the face of this pandemic: constantly refreshing the newspaper live blogs (guilty as charged) or hoarding loo roll (don’t be that person). But there are small, worthwhile ways that you can help your community during this challenging time: whether that’s baking for an elderly neighbour, delivering supplies to those in self isolation, ordering a delivery from a local restaurant or donating to local charities. Katy Salter gives advice on the many ways you can help your community…

How to help your community during the Coronavirus outbreak

Not only can you provide support to those in need, you’ll feel the benefit of doing something kind and constructive, too. Baking is therapeutic. Shopping for a neighbour gets you out of the house and into the fresh air (following all the social distancing guidelines, of course). Kind gestures and taking practical action to help your community won’t halt Covid-19 in its tracks, but they’re certainly better for you than checking Twitter for the 500th time today…

How to help… neighbours, friends and family

Print out self-isolation support cards

Post them through letterboxes in your street. Include your name and number, and a list of tasks you can assist with, such as shopping, dog walking or collecting post and parcels.

Offer to shop for an elderly or vulnerable neighbour

Join or set up a Facebook or NextDoor self-isolation support group for your neighbourhood, village or town. Those in self-isolation can post urgent requests for supplies, and admins can match them with a local helper. Set up a WhatsApp group to do the same for your immediate neighbours.

Bake for elderly neighbours or self-isolating friends.

A home-cooked chicken pie or loaf of bread on the doorstep could do wonders for someone’s spirits. Offer to make nourishing soups and stews for their freezer, too.

Plan virtual coffee dates.

Missing face-to-face interaction? Set up a weekly Skype or Google Hangout. Put your coffee on to brew (or uncork your wine) at the same time as friends and have a virtual catch-up instead. A virtual cuppa with an elderly relative once a day could become a daily ritual and a vital morale booster – although you might have to spend some time talking through the technology… 

Do you have a skill you could showcase online?

The coronavirus crisis has brought a wave of generosity to social media, with everyone from chefs to yoga teachers offering online masterclasses, free Facebook kids’ classes or Instagram tutorials. 

How to help… local businesses

Buy vouchers for future use

Restaurants, when they’re allowed to reopen, will be facing a fight for survival. Help your neighbourhood favourites by buying an online voucher through their websites to use in future. If any near you are still able to offer take-out or delivery within the local area (the situation’s changing daily), support them whenever you’re able. 

Buy merchandise

Lots of restaurants and coffee shops sell merchandise. Support them by ordering a T-shirt, or snapping up a coffee mug, a bag of house-roasted coffee beans or a jar of their signature sauce. 

Order from an online grocer

Skip the (two metres apart) queues and post-apocalyptic scenes at the supermarket, and order from a local independent instead. Arrange a veg box delivery from your nearest greengrocer. Order milk, cheese and eggs from a local dairy or a meat-box from the butchers. Local Facebook groups and social media are a great source of information on small businesses and the inventive ways they’re adapting to the crisis. Independent breweries are delivering beer, country pubs are getting meals to the elderly. My local zero-waste shop is delivering boxes of essentials like milk, bread and loo roll for anyone in self isolation. 

How to help… local charities and those most in need

Donate to a food bank

Food banks around the UK are reporting shortages of essentials, including loo roll and nappies. The Trussell Trust is a national network of food banks. Use its ‘find a food bank’ tool to identify your nearest food bank. Contact them or check their social media feeds to find out where to donate and which items they need – although obviously all movement is now severely restricted. Online donations are hugely appreciated.

Donate toiletries too

The Hygiene Bank usually has drop-off points nationwide to donate essentials like shampoo, sanitary products, nappies, toothpaste and shower gel to households living in poverty. During the Covid-19 crisis, many of their collection points may be closed, especially with the latest restrictions, so the charity is urging supporters to check before travelling to a donation point or, preferably, donate online via its JustGiving or EASO wishlist page for your local branch.

Donate to Magic Breakfast

This UK charity normally provides in-school breakfasts to 48,400 school-age children in the UK at risk of hunger in the morning. The charity is working with its partner schools and local authorities on ways to continue providing breakfast to children while schools are shut, and every donation will help.

*Kind gestures can go a long way for those on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis. Many chains are offering discounts and freebies for NHS staff but details change daily. Could you follow suit by baking some brownies for any NHS workers, teachers or supermarket workers in your street, alerting them in advance and leaving them on the doorstep at an agreed time? Don’t forget to thank supermarket staff next time you brave the hordes, either. 

Have you got any other ideas on ways in which we can support the local community? Get in touch with a comment below.

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