coronavirus Note : The last few weeks have been difficult, with people up and down the UK muddling through new and sometimes confusing circumstances in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of us are having to work from home, while others are still heading out to work in retail and various customer-facing environments, having to remain strong in the face of stress and panic.
More than ever, we need to make sure we are being kind to one another, and this is particularly true when it comes to ensuring our elderly and vulnerable neighbours are getting the help they need.
At this uncertain time, it’s important to remember those who already experience problems with loneliness and getting out will be finding matters even more challenging than usual.
They may be frightened, they may be unable to get to the corner shop for bread and milk, and they may well be unsure who exactly they can call upon for assistance.
Although the issue may seem huge, there is plenty we can be doing right now as individuals to help those in need – to make sure their fridges are stocked, their dogs walked and their names heard and acknowledged within communities.
As widespread concern and disruption continues to rage, a sense of fierce, protective community spirit has blossomed within various parts of the UK, with people banding together to ensure their neighbours’ lives remain as normal and as comfortable as possible.
A new trend, starting out as #viralkindness on social media, was kick-started by Falmouth-based creative advertising lecturer, Becky Wass.
Becky, 32, designed a shareable, printable postcard that allows people to offer help to their self-isolating neighbours.
The cards include spaces for names, addresses and phone numbers, as well as potential tasks the recipient might need a hand with, including ‘picking up shopping’, ‘urgent supplies’ or ‘a friendly phone call’.
Sharing her postcard on Facebook – along with a link to a printable PDF version – Becky wrote:
Many people were inspired by Becky’s idea, which has been shared and liked thousands of times. Furthermore, the sheer number of mutual aid groups that have since formed (in a matter of days) shows this neighbourly concern is far more than just a viral trend.
From Aberdeen to Bath, Cardiff to Hastings, residents have been posting cards through their neighbours’ letter boxes, ensuring they know they have friends nearby keeping an eye out for them.
Those over the age of 65 are at greater risk of developing severe symptoms should they become infected, and those showing even the mildest coughs have been advised to stay away from their elderly relatives.
Out of the 35 coronavirus-related fatalities in the UK so far, most have been individuals over the age of 60 who had underlying health conditions [this number has now reportedly risen to 55, as of March 16, according to BBC News].
Self-isolation for those over the age of 70 is said to be just days away, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating such individuals could be asked to remain indoors for periods of up to four months for their own safety.
Isolation is already a grave concern for the UK’s older population. According to Age UK, two million over-75s in England live alone, with over one million often going for over a month without speaking to another person.