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Volunteering in the community during the Coronavirus outbreak

We’re living in strange times as we deal with the inevitable changes in behaviour caused by the Coronavirus. We may be feeling anxious, worrying about our health and that of our loved ones. And it can be easy to forget that there’s nearly always someone worse off than you. Whether you live in a city or a small rural community, there will be people around you who need additional help. With recent government advice for those aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions, to self-isolate, there are increasing opportunities to support our neighbours while keeping the recommended two-metre distance. Other groups of vulnerable people, including those with underlying health conditions, are also being asked to ‘socially distance’ themselves. So they, too, are having to stay at home and minimise their contact with other people.

For those without everyday support from family and friends, new community hubs aim to fill the gaps and make a real difference.

Over 750,000 amazing individuals recently signed up to help the NHS through the Good Sam app. The app is no longer taking applications but if you missed the opportunity and are still looking to support your local community by picking up shopping, delivering medication, putting out the bins, or just phoning people who are feeling isolated then we have a few ideas to get you started:

  1. The British Red Cross is just one organisation that has set up a team of community reserve volunteers to help in your local area during the coronavirus outbreak. Anyone can join, you don’t need any special skills, and they’ll provide any training you need. You just need to be over 18 and prepared to help in your local community.
  2. You could join Covid-19 mutual aid UK. It’s a group of volunteers who support local community groups by providing resources and connecting volunteers with those in need, especially elderly or vulnerable people who are self-isolating.
  3. Eden Project Communities have launched a Community Action Response which lists ways to make a positive difference in your community.
  4. Pick up the phone. Call your family, friends and colleagues to check how they are. If you call a different person each day, and they do the same, it can spread a whole web of support. You can use Facebook and other social media to stay in touch too. And if you’re not sure about how to use your iPad or mobile phone to make a video call, the BBC have produced this short step-by-step guide.
  5. Offer to help with shopping or running errands. Keep someone’s garden in check by mowing the lawn or doing a spot of outside DIY if you have the skills. Use an app such as Nextdoor to get in touch if you don’t know your neighbours well. You can leave any shopping on the doorstep if you’re worried about passing on the virus. If it’s not too cold, there’s nothing to stop you chatting to a lonely neighbour through a window or open door. Having face-to-face contact, even at a distance, may make all the difference to someone who isn’t seeing anyone else that day.
  6. The National Farmers Union announced in early April that farmers across the UK were in desperate need of volunteers to help Farmers get food from the fields to the shelves. If you like being outdoors this could be the perfect job for you. Find your local farm by visiting British Summer Fruits or Concordia today.

Beware of scams
With so many vulnerable people about, scams are starting to increase. If you don’t know your neighbours, contact them through an approved route, so they feel safe. And be careful about any information you share – always signpost others to the NHS website for accurate advice. Make sure you follow correct hygiene practice and encourage people around you to do the same.

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