Seven ways you can help during the coronavirus pandemic

With the spread of coronavirus, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and like life is beyond your control. That’s totally understandable. Whilst there are many things you can’t change right now, here are seven ways you could make a difference during these uncertain times.

1. Volunteer

If you’re 18+ and fit and well with no symptoms, you could consider joining the NHS Volunteer Responders programme, which is designed to get care and help to vulnerable people. Volunteers can help out with tasks like delivering essential supplies to people who are self-isolating and providing transport to patients who are ready to come home from hospital.

If you’re in a higher-risk group (for example, if your pregnant or have an underlying health condition), you can still help out by volunteering to have phone calls with people who are at risk of loneliness whilst self-isolating.

There are also lots of great volunteering opportunities going on at a local level. Communities up and down the country are pulling together online to help out those in need. Check out this list of local groups to see what’s going on in your area. Of course, with any volunteering outside your home, it's essential that you follow health and safely advice closely.

If you’re not able to volunteer yourself, you can still help to spread the word about opportunities to get involved.

2. Reach out

If you’re feeling bored, anxious or lonely, you can bet your loved ones are probably feeling it too. Reach out to your friends and family and let them know you’re thinking of them. You’d be amazed how far a cheery message can go.

If you’ve got relatives who are less au fait with technology, now’s the time to hit them with your social media know-how! Get your gran on video chat, help your mum embrace the hilarity of filters, and unleash the questionable sight of your uncle's dance moves on TikTok. Stay connected and help keep people’s spirits up.

3. Entertain the kids!

Got younger siblings? Nieces and nephews? If you know someone who is currently looking after young children who’d usually be at nursery or school, why not reach out and offer to keep their little ones entertained for a while?

If you’re not in the same household so you can’t be with them in person, there’s still lots you can do over video chat! Read them a story, set them a drawing challenge that you can join in with from afar, or have a virtual dance party to their favourite tunes. Check out the cBeebies website and the CBBC website for lots of great activity ideas.

4. Use your skills

Have a think about what you’re good at that you could share with others. Groups have already been popping up where people are doing just that! For example, ‘Study Tubers’ have banded together for The StudyTube Project to help people who want to keep learning during the pandemic.

But you don’t have to be a YouTuber or an expert in something to make a difference. Helping out could be anything from sharing your music skills on a live stream for your mates, to knowing just the right moment to crack a cheesy joke to make someone smile on a difficult day. Everyone has something they can bring and it might be just what one of your loved ones needs.

5. Share small wins

With all the worrying headlines and news stories, your social media feeds can quickly become a frightening and triggering place. But, amongst any challenge, there are always amazing stories out there of people lifting each other up.

From grandmas joining together to self-isolate, to birthday parties being saved by Zoom video chat, there are plenty of stories doing the rounds to help put a smile on people’s faces.

Seen a story that’s cheered you up? Confident it’s legit? Why not share it with your friends to help keep their spirits up?

6. Beware fake news

As mentioned above, it’s important to make sure that what you’re sharing is accurate information, especially if it relates to advice about the virus. Accidentally sharing inaccurate information could lead to confusion and get in the way of people taking the most useful steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

Not sure how to work out what’s real? Check out the “Fact or Fake?” section of the Bitesize website for advice on how to be savvy online and spot fake news.

For information on the coronavirus, don’t rely on rumour or gossip, go to a trusted source such as:

7. Practise self-care

Self-care – it’s all yoga and feeling zen, right? Well, sort of. It’s about giving yourself what you need to feel the best you can. By looking after yourself, you’ll be in a better position to be able to help others.

Self-care can take different forms for different people. For some it might be taking half an hour out to read or listening to a podcast – for others it might be making sure they get enough sleep at night or limiting their social media scrolling. It’s all about finding what works for you and rolling with it. If you can’t follow your usual self-care routines, try to adapt them. For example, a trip to the pool could be replaced with a new exercise routine at home.

For tips on looking after your wellbeing during social distancing visit the Mind website.

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