I have a confession to make… yesterday, I panic-bought the last tin of spaghetti hoops at Aldi. I don’t remember the last time I ate spaghetti hoops, but seeing that last lone tin on the quickly emptying shelf just made me feel like I had to have it.
Evidently, things like the coronavirus don’t always bring out the best in us. It can make us selfish, irrational, and anxious. But we all get to choose how we respond to this crisis, and I hope we all choose to respond with love.
Here are 5 simple things we can all do to help others, right now.
1. Check in on your friends, family and loved ones
Text the friend who lives alone. Call your auntie who has issues with anxiety. Offer to do the shopping for your grandparents. You might already be doing this, without even realising the impact that a simple text or a kind offer could have on someone who is struggling.
2. Give to charities on the front-line of helping the most vulnerable
The charity I work for, Penny Appeal, has launched a Coronavirus Emergency appeal. Here in the UK, they’re providing Food Packs to the elderly, supporting Food Banks like the one run by St Catherine’s in Wakefield (pictured), providing Hygiene Kits to protect the homeless, and they’ve started a Hardship Fund to help families who will be financially impacted. You can also call our free Listening Line at 0300 303 1360 if you’re feeling anxious about the coronavirus.
We’re also providing emergency Food Packs, Hygiene Kits and COVID-19 Testing Kits to refugees and displaced people in Syria and Gaza, where the spread of the coronavirus could be absolutely devastating. Anything you can spare will make a big difference – donate here. There are a lot of other charities doing great work, too, including our partner Age UK and many local foodbanks across the country.
3. Offer to help your neighbours
You don’t have to go far to offer a helping hand. My sister slipped notes under the doors of a few of her neighbours in her block of flats, leaving her name and number, and asking if anyone needs help with shopping in this crisis. Every single person called her back, and now she’ll be helping make sure a 91-year-old woman has all the toilet roll and food that she needs throughout the crisis.
If you’re healthy and able to leave the house, don’t wait for others to ask for help. Many people will be too proud or nervous to do so; that’s why you should always offer first.
4. Support small businesses
Small businesses are vital for our economy; they provide countless jobs and invest a lot of their profits back into our communities. Research shows that for every £10 spent at a local, independent shop, an additional £50 goes back into the local economy.
With the government advice to stay at home and self-isolate as much as possible, our vital independent businesses will suffer and could even go bankrupt. However, you can still support your favourite small businesses. Many of them are selling vouchers and subscription services, which you can purchase now and redeem later, to keep them afloat.
Reach out to your favourite local businesses – from nail salons to dessert parlours – and see how you can continue to support them through COVID-19.
5. Stay home!
This one is the simplest piece of advice, but it might just be the most important. Even if you feel healthy right now, you could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19. That means that whilst you might feel fine, if you’re continuing to socialise and leave the house when you don’t need to, you could pass on the virus and endanger more vulnerable people’s lives.
So avoid crowded places, wash your hands and try to stay home as much as you possibly can – and when you do need to leave home, use that opportunity to offer practical help to those who are quarantined or self-isolating for their own protection, such as elderly and disabled people.
Two words that could summarise all these points: be kind. Together, we can get through this – stronger and more united than ever.
Now, excuse me whilst I google where my nearest food bank is… I think I have some spaghetti hoops which belong to somebody else.