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Five ways to help your community during the coronavirus outbreak

Written by
Alexandra Sims

As well as social distancing and self-isolating, there are lots of other ways you can help your local community get through coronavirus chaos. Many vulnerable groups – including the elderly, people with underlying health conditions and those in precarious living situations – are likely to be highly affected by the pandemic. Here’s how to be of assistance (even if you can’t leave your house). 

Download the Nextdoor app

If previous interactions with your neighbours consisted of a mumbled ‘hi’ while you fumbled for your door keys, now could be the time to change that. It’s easy to download and sign up to the Nextdoor app on your phone. Once you’re in, you’ll be able to see messages from people who live in your area: ranging from neighbours offering to pick up shopping and medication for those self-isolating to people organising virtual meet-ups and online music lessons. Finding out that the people you live near are kind, helpful and fun could be a silver lining to these weird times. 
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Log on to Covid-19 Mutual Aid

Last week, 23-year-old Seren John-Wood helped create a mutual aid group in Lewisham. The Facebook-based initiative enables people to band together in Whatsapp groups to support vulnerable neighbours with shopping and prescription pick-ups, give advice to individuals wanting to start their own groups and provide templated letters that people can put through their neighbours’ doors offering help. There are now more than 900 groups across the country, and more than100 in London alone.
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Take part in the Postcard Campaign

Want to make sure no one on your street is without help? Becky Wass from Cornwall has come up with a postcard that you can print at home and drop through the letterboxes of elderly and vulnerable people in your area who might be self-isolating. The simple form on the postcard lets neighbours know if you can post mail for them, pick up urgent supplies or shopping, or keep them company with a friendly phone call.
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Support Beauty Banks

Good hygiene is particularly important right now. Beauty Bank is a grassroots movement tackling hygiene poverty by supplying people who can’t afford to stockpile essentials. It has created a GoFundMe page where donations go towards buying soap, handwash, bodywash, hand sanitiser and laundry detergent. These will be distributed via food banks, homeless shelters, domestic abuse refuges, youth centres, NHS trusts and refugee centres across the country.
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Donate to food banks

As Londoners face precarious employment and housing situations, food banks will become a lifeline for many. Food banks across London – including ones in Lewisham, Hackney and Hammersmith & Fulham – have put out calls for donations of food and money. Many are also looking for warehouse volunteers as people call in sick. Trussell Trust has a brilliant online map where you can locate your nearest food bank (there are 74 in London). Or put some tins in the food bank collection at your local supermarket – easy.
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