At a time when it’s really needed, many Australians are showing tremendous acts of generosity and goodwill by offering to help those who need it most.
For people who can help, it’s perhaps never been needed more as the COVID-19 pandemic forces the country into social distancing measures to prevent the spread of further infection.
While necessary, some of these measures make it exceedingly difficult for some people in our community to access the services they need.
Much like during the recent bushfire crisis, online community groups have been established via social media to provide forums for people to offer assistance and support. These groups help people share experiences and stay positive in a time of uncertainty.
How can you help? You can start by following the government-mandated guidelines on good hygiene practise and social distancing. But there are some other ways to support your own community and those who might be struggling.
Check in with the neighbours
Your own neighbourhood is a great place to start.
Drop a note to your immediate neighbours, especially the elderly ones, that you’re available to help with things like groceries or errands.
It’s not only helpful but a good way to get to know people who you might not have had the chance to get to know yet.
You can even print out a pre-prepared card that lets you fill in your details and what you can help with.
Reach out to family and friends
For the elderly, the chronically ill, and immunocompromised people, this is a very stressful time. With weakened immune systems these people are at the most severe risk of contracting COVID-19.
By simply reaching out to family and friends who you know are at risk, you can be a tremendous support pillar for them.
They will more than likely already be socially isolated so any physical, mental and emotional support you can give them will provide a big lift.
Support local businesses
Despite social distancing rules and the shutdown of non-essential services, some restaurants are staying open, but for take-away orders only.
Where possible, try to support your local eateries and arrange for meals to pick up or be home delivered.
Also, look up your local businesses and not-for-profits online, and find out if there are ways you can still buy from them or donate.
Use technology to help
There’s a great app called Nextdoor, which lets users connect with others in their neighbourhood. It’s a great way to arrange assistance for those who need it in your immediate area.
Users can even let others know they are available to help by simply marking in the app what they can help with, for example, running errands or picking up shopping or groceries.
Because some elderly people struggle with the internet and technology, the app also allows users to create a one-page flyer that you can print off and put under your elderly neighbours’ front door or leave in their letterbox.
Technology is also a great way to share experiences and positive stories and collectively keep spirits up.
There has been a surge of social media posts featuring the hashtags #happyathome and #quarantine, highlighting the funny and innovative ways people have been dealing with the crisis.
And Facebook groups such as The Kindness Pandemic and the website Kindness Factory have provided users with a place they can share their acts of generosity and compassion.
More than ever, Red Cross Australia says it’s vital for healthy people to donate blood and plasma.
Travel restrictions and social distancing don’t prevent blood donations, and the Red Cross has introduced further measures to ensure the safety of donors, staff and recipients alike.
These measures include increased disinfecting, provision of more hand sanitiser for donors to use and the introduction of social distancing measures in donation centres wherever possible.
For more information on donating blood during the COVID-19 crisis, head to https://www.donateblood.com.au/page/coronavirus-update
Mental health support
During this stressful time, it’s obviously important to look after your loved ones, but it’s also just as critical to make sure you’re taking care of your own support needs as well. If you or anyone you know needs help, the following resources are always available:
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.