As the UK hunkers down for a month at home, here are the most useful ways you can lend a hand to people in your area during Lockdown 2.
The million dollar question - other than ‘When, for the love of God, is this blessed vaccine going to turn up?’ - is how on earth we are meant to maintain anything resembling morale? Everyone will have their own ideas about how to stay upbeat, but aside from all the baking and virtual exercise classes, one of the best ways to boost your mood is to make yourself useful to others.
Studies have found that acts of kindness can be linked to increased feelings of wellbeing. It’s why volunteering, taking food to a local food bank or identifying the best charities to donate to could be one of the best ways to feel good during this winter lockdown. Here are five suggestions:
NHS Volunteer Responder: If you think you could offer your services doing odd jobs for or checking in with vulnerable people, it may be best to do it through the Royal Voluntary Service. Volunteers can help by collecting shopping, delivering prescriptions, calling isolated people for a chat and providing transport to essential medical appointments.
Help the Elderly: Age UK is appealing for vital funds for its No one should have no one campaign this winter. But the charity is also encouraging everyone who can, to be a good neighbour by offering simple, immediate assistance to older people nearby. Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "If you can, lend a hand by offering to pick up shopping or run errands. When you drop off any shopping knock on the door and step two metres back first, leave any bags on the doorstep and make sure your neighbour safely receives them.
Take Shopping to Food Banks: In the UK, more than 14 million people are living in poverty - including 4.5 million children. Food banks continue to need your support during this second lockdown. The Trussell Trust recommends putting your postcode into its site and seeing where your nearest food bank is. You can also check which items are most needed on any given week. You can also donate funds, and if you are able to, your time.
Help out in your Local Area: Website Covid-19 Mutual Aid is a good place to start if you’re keen to offer local help. You can find nearby groups, which serve as a forum where people can share information, volunteer help, or ask for it if they are in need. The groups are designed to enable neighbours and community members to look out for one another. Help can include offering essential items, picking up groceries, running errands, making calls, or just offering a friendly voice on the phone if people are lonely. Just type in your postcode and find your nearest group.
Donate to Help the Vulnerable: It’s also worth thinking about the causes you care about that might be struggling at the moment. The Charities Aid Foundation set up an emergency fund in March to support smaller charities that do vital work but risk going under as a result of the pandemic. Since March they have received nearly 5,000 applications from small charities, with requests totaling more than £39 million. They’ve paid grants to over 1,250, totalling more than £6.4 million. Find out how you can support the charity sector during these difficult times.