It was only last month that we we're talking so much about kindness and then all of a sudden, it's all change. It's such a strange time right now, isn't it? We're only at the very beginning of this situation and yet, it seems every one of us has been affected by the arrival of the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis in one way or another. Whether you're in self-isolation, simply practicing social distancing, suffering or supporting a loved one with the coronavirus infection, it's easy to feel like everything is getting a little too much.
For the Sparks and Daughters team, Family has always been at the heart of everything we do, but now more than ever, families need to pull together for not just loved ones, but also friends, neighbours, colleagues and community members. In difficult times, putting yourself out there to help someone else shines a big light on a dark situation. It's not just good for the person you're helping, it's good for your own mental health too and being strong at a time like this is truly important. So, if you're in a position to help others right now, what sort of things can you do to be there for others?
Find out where help is needed
One thing I've noticed this week are a lot of new Facebook groups for communities to communicate with one another about what is happening in their local area. This can be a great way for people who are isolated at home to get in touch with someone who might be able to help them get groceries, collect prescriptions etc.
Becky Wass, from Falmouth, Cornwall, recently set up the #viralkindness postcard project, to help neighbours establish a way to look after one another. She designed a print-at-home template which is now being shared on social media, with those in need able to request shopping, urgent supplies or "a friendly phone call". Find out if one of these schemes is in place in your neighbourhood and if not, why not get together and start one?
Shop, Drop and Collect
If you're in a position to help out by popping to the shops or stopping by the pharmacy on behalf of neighbours or loved ones, let them know where and when you are available. Showing kindness also means taking precautions to stay safe, so make sure to protect both you and them, and ensure you drop their items at the door. Ring the bell take a few steps back to see that they come out to receive them.
If elderly neighbours in good health are happy to leave the house and make a short shopping trip, albeit keeping a safe distance from others, you can offer to drive them so that they can avoid using public transport. This may be especially helpful in rural areas or where transportation has been cut back.
Do you really know how much you have stored away in the kitchen cupboards? If you have more than you need then you might want to consider donating your extra food and household supplies to your local food bank. With lots of people being unable to work and the possibility of school closures, there's bound to be increased demand on these types of services and they will truly appreciate such an act of kindness.
Stay in touch... from afar
Isolation doesn't have to be a lonely experience so make an extra effort to stay in touch with those you can not be with in person. Whether they prefer a video chat or a phone call, there are so many ways to be connected these days. Why not challenge them to an online card or board game or create a joint Pinterest board. You can share ideas for recipes and activities to keep things going, life don't have to be the same every day, even when leaving the home is difficult.
Stock up and then stop
It's tempting to respond to the panic that seems to have gripped shoppers this week, by buying in bulk. But grocery retailers have assured the public that there is enough to go around, provided everybody only buys what is needed for themselves. Under current guidelines, you may be required to stay at home under quarantine for a period of 14 days so as long as you have enough to cover a little beyond that, you'll be buying in a calm and measured way.
Help those further afield
If you're in a position to help others financially, there are currently a number of community and national projects happening that you can support. For instance, Beauty Banks, the people-powered movement that supports people living in hygiene poverty in the UK has joined (virtual) hands with crowd-funding platform, GoFundMe to support those who can’t afford to take extra precautions to help keep them safe. They are currently crowd-funding to raise as much money as possible to create emergency hygiene parcels, consisting of hand wash, sanitiser, laundry detergent etc. All donations will be shared with Beauty Banks’ UK registered charity partners that include food banks, homeless shelters, domestic abuse refuges, youth centres, NHS trusts and refugee centres across the UK.
Lastly, keep up with the news
The ways we are able to help one another in the coming weeks are likely to change as the official advice from experts updates frequently. Be sure to check both local and national news and stay in touch with others in your community to keep informed of the greatest needs on a local level. Things you found were less important a few days ago could be more important than ever and the key to being the best source of help for others, is information.
With all that said, show yourself some kindness! Be sure to practice plenty of self care and give yourself everything you need to be functioning at your best right now. The end of this difficult time isn't yet in sight but it is something we can all love and support one another through. Kindness will be one of the most important tools in our bag, so be generous!