Whether you’re a student whose lectures have been cancelled or a professional who has been put on furlough or made redundant due to COVID-19, spending all day at home can be emotionally draining, and it’s easy to feel like you’re helpless during these challenging times.
Though the advice remains that you should stay at home to reduce the spread of the virus and save lives, there are ways that you can give back and help others in their time of need…
Every year, the NHS needs to recruit an additional 135,000 blood donors to ensure that they have the right mix of blood groups to meet the demands of patients. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, blood is more important than ever. If you can, consider donating yours.
You can register as a blood donor on the Give Blood website, where you’ll also be able to book an appointment. The government has confirmed that donating blood is classed as an ‘essential journey’ (hey, it gets you out of the house for half an hour!) and donation centres have introduced new social distancing and hygiene policies to ensure you’re kept safe.
The NHS is looking for a ‘volunteer army’ to help it cope with the strain during the peak of the crisis, and one way that you can help is to offer your time. NHS Volunteer Responders can be asked to make regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home. This service is particularly useful for those who are vulnerable and alone, and your friendly voice at the end of the phone could brighten their day and make them feel like they have a companion.
You can also volunteer to support mental health charity Young Minds’ crisis text scheme, help Samaritans deliver its vital services or become an Age UK telephone befriender.
If you’ve got elderly or vulnerable neighbours in your street, pop a note through their door or take to social media to ask if they need any help. Food delivery slots are hard to come by, and although pharmacies are offering prescription drop-offs, getting vital medication can be tough for someone who doesn’t know about the latest schemes or access to the internet.
Supermarkets including ASDA have even introduced new volunteer cards. Your neighbour can top-up their card from home using a debit card, and you can spend on it in-store. It’s safer because you’re not handing over cash and ensures no bank details are exchanged.
Captain Tom Moore raised more than £30 million after his daughter set up a Virgin Money Giving page, with his story touching the hearts of millions. Though your 79 Twitter followers might not be as generous, setting up a fundraising campaign is a great way to give to good causes whose services are more vital than ever. Whether you do a sponsored skip around your garden, live-stream your favourite video game on Twitch for 24 hours or perform your own rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody live on Facebook, our community champions need to know we’ve got their backs - and the best part is, fundraising can be a welcome distraction.
The chances are that you’ve got a few spare tins of beans or packets of custard creams in the cupboard. Consider having a clear-out and send surplus supplies to a local food bank.
Food banks across the country are reporting “dramatic spikes” as more people seek help after losing their jobs or having their hours cut due to the crisis. If you’re in a comfortable position and can afford to buy a couple of extra bags of rice or some essential supplies when doing your weekly food shop, please consider doing so. Nobody should have to go hungry.
Finally, think about small businesses close to your heart during these challenging times.
Although the government has offered an unprecedented package of support to help weather the storm, many entrepreneurs and small business owners are not eligible and are losing thousands of pounds per week. Experts predict a fifth of small businesses could go bust.
Where you can, shop locally, and support your favourite independent retailers by buying from their ecommerce website or purchasing a gift card. Even if you don’t need something now, showing your support will improve their cash flow and allow them to continue operating.
Do you have any other tips for helping others during the coronavirus outbreak? Let us know on social media and check back soon for more tips, right here on the Billing Better blog.