Written by our very own lovely Store Supervisor Roxy Khan-Williams
Want to get involved in helping your local community combat the effects of Covid-19 but not sure where to start or what you can do to help?
Then this blog is for you!
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by how enormous the threat of corona virus is, but if Covid-19 has taught us anything – it’s that we are in this together and everyone can make a difference! From simply social distancing to helping the elderly, to donating to food banks and homeless charities – there is so much we can do as individuals to help and support our wider community.
While the government has launched a huge economic stimulus package to support people who are at risk of losing their job or in financially precarious positions, vulnerable individuals can often slip through the social safety net and this is why community care is vital.
You don’t have to dedicate your life to the cause to make a big difference in your local area and we wanted to take this opportunity to signpost you lovely bunch to some quick and easy ways to start getting involved (if you’re not already!)
Now, more than ever, it's a time for us to reach out to our neighbours and wider community, support our local businesses and practice some good old fashion kindness.
Here are some of our top tips…
There are many ways in which you can start volunteering. One grassroots movement, Covid-19 Mutual Aid started as a single Facebook group in Lewisham, and has now blossomed into 700 different groups, each linked to a particular area of the UK. The groups aim is to connect individuals who are healthy and willing to volunteer with locals who are more vulnerable to Covid-19 and therefore need to practice stricter self-isolation than the rest of us. You can also join other local and national organisations, such as The British Red Cross, Acorn, and St. Mungos that connect willing volunteers with people who are in need of help, including the vulnerable, elderly and homeless.
Another fantastic way of supporting our communities is by volunteering for our beloved NHS - over 750,000 people have already signed up for the NHS Volunteer Responders programme in what can only be described as an amazing display of people power. Volunteering with this NHS programme includes non-medical day to day activities such as delivering medicines from pharmacies, driving people to appointments and making contact with people who are isolating at home to make sure those that are highly vulnerable are able to stay safe and well at home.
If you’re finding yourself in the particular situation of complete self-isolation, either because you’re ill or someone you live with is, there are still ways to help. It is times like these when we at Lucy & Yak are extremely grateful for the internet, just because there may be geographical space between us doesn’t mean we can’t connect with each other! There are some amazing apps that allow you to connect with people who might be suffering from loneliness during these times, including Next door: a social networking platform connecting you with your local communities and neighbourhoods - allowing you to meet your neighbours virtually in a safe network.
Want to know a little more? Check out the following organisations...
- The British Red Cross is helping with the coronavirus emergency across the UK. Anyone can become a community reserve volunteer; no specialist skills are required and quick training is provided at the scene
- Acorn has started to be referred to by some as the fourth emergency service and is organising local volunteers to support people in the community who need shopping, prescription collection, post and anything else they may need if they are stuck at home
- St Mungos help people who’ve experienced homelessness, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality or ethnicity – volunteering with them will help them deliver their services to those who are disproportionally affected by Covid-19
- On Hand - a social enterprise providing help with simple tasks from verified volunteers, from offering phone check-ins and companionship, pet-walking, shopping errands and prescription pick ups.
- Find your local food bank and donate what you can
In a time where people usually look inwards and to their immediate surroundings, may we all try and practice a spirit of generosity. This current crisis has put a lot of pressure on our already strained foodbank service, which donations drying up and demand increasing. More than 14 million people in the UK live below the poverty line and Corona virus will have pushed many more under that line. While we do have a welfare system here, for a lot of people there is a significant gap between applying for benefits and receiving that money, so the upcoming weeks will prove extremely difficult for some. If you’re in a position where you are able to donate then here are some amazing places taking donations across the country, including many local supermarkets.
Where to donate:
Trussel Trust have a network of 1,200 food banks all over the UK and have information on their website about your local foodbank and what essential items are needed in your local area most!
Fare Share are tackling two problems in one – food waste and hunger! They take good quality surplus food from right across the food industry and get it to almost 11,000 frontline charities and community groups. You can volunteer in a range of capacities from warehouse assistant to driver!
3. Buy LOCAL and Independent
It is now more important than ever to support our local independent shops and businesses. For example, buying from your local small shop rather than one of the big supermarkets - and if you do need to do a supermarket shop and you’re fit and healthy, go in person - practicing social distancing thereby reserving the delivery service for the vulnerable.
One suggestion to help many independent brands that might have had to temporally shut their doors is to purchase gift cards and vouchers from them, which can be used with the quarantine restrictions are lifted - a treat for them, treat for you!
There are so many wonderful small brands working hard to stay open and sending our orders in this time, some of our favourites:
Hisbe – A Brighton based local and independent supermarket pioneering the way in the ethical and sustainable food industry - maybe there's a similar shop in your local area you could get your produce from instead of the big shops with huge queues?
Form Lifestyle - A Manchester based shop selling lots of beautiful handmade pieces and supporting independent makers, focusing on design, craftsmanship, and function, wonderfully curated with a focus on small-run products, slow-living and taking a thoughtful approach to buying – choosing to buy fewer, well-considered pieces. Don't forget about creatives and artists in this time, many of whom have lost work!
AS Apothecary - A lovely skincare brand based in Lewes and the Isle of Harris, they have a small batch distillery making natural scents, creams, and balms from natural ingredients. They're all about plants, community, environment and an appreciation of the inter-connectedness of us all. Treat yourself, keep it natural and support a lovely small business all in one!
Finally, if you’re saving a few pounds on transportation costs or not having that Friday pint down the pub, then here are some great charities you can donate some pennies to…
- Young Roots works with young refugees. They are creating and distributing emergency packs for our destitute young people impacted by the reduction of services.
- Age UK is one of the nation's leading organisations that supports the elderly, proving them with companionship, advice and general assistance.
- Beauty Banks is a small charity that supports those in need of essential personal care and hygiene products, such as soap, shampoo and shower gel. All you have to do is head to its online wish list, purchase some toiletries, then off they go to local charities who will distribute it to those who need it – genius!
- Mind are a mental health charity supporting those who are feeling the adverse effects of the lockdown on their mental wellbeing. Their work is now more important than ever!