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Ways for Communities to Pull Together

Jessica Esa

Contributor

This is a stressful time for us all, in more ways than one. Parents have their children at home from school; people of all ages are isolating at home and feeling cut off from the world; there are shortages of things that would make us all feel safer and protected. But there is an upside to all of this: creative people, kind companies, and intelligent groups who are coming together to fight back against the fear in clever and inspiring ways. Find out what they’re doing and how you can do your part to help yourself and those in your community right now.

1) Creating Innovative Products

There are certain products, machines, and medical items that are both helpful in the current crisis but also in unfortunately short supply. This might be because of government oversights or the panic buying that has plagued so many communities. These products include hand sanitiser, hospital ventilators, and medical masks. Fortunately, several clever and innovative individuals and companies have been working to bolster that shortage.

Scotting brewery of delicious IPAs, Brewdog, have decided to produce and sell their own hand sanitisers (Brewgel) as a way to combat the panic buying of hand sanitiser that has plagued the UK. Across the pond, a distillery in Vermont is doing the exact same thing.

Companies and individuals in Spain, Poland and other countries across the world are using their 3D printing knowledge and access to 3D printers in order to produce ventilators in order to tackle the global shortage in a way that could save countless lives.

Then there are masks, which are now being designed and manufactured by companies who normally don’t veer into that sign of manufacturing. This includes fashion brands based in France and Italy as well as the Italian car manufacturer Fiat, who have refocussed one of their China-based factories to produce medical masks for people to have access to.

Something that you can easily do at home is make your own hand sanitiser for yourself, and to share with your family and friends. Hand sanitiser is a simple blend of pure alcohol and aloe vera which you can mix in a bottle and use in a pinch. The alcohol cleans while the aloe vera soothes. Who knows what else you can come up with!

2) Supporting our Vulnerable and Essential Workers

There are charities, companies, and individuals around the world who are doing their part to help those in their community most at risk during this health crisis, as well as giving help to and easing the burden of essential workers like those working for the UK’s NHS.

The Cares Family is one such organisation. They have built themselves up as a grassroots collective that pair younger members of local UK communities with older citizens in order to form bonds and relationships across generations. During this crisis, they are encouraging young people to share their writing, poems, videos, drawings, and anything else with the older members of their community who may feel vulnerable and isolated at this time.

There are also communities across the globe banding together to deal with this crisis in a safe and supportive way. Log into Facebook right now to see the new community pages popping up every day for friends and neighbours to join. In these groups, people can organise food packages for each other, and share helpful tips for staying safe. They even make each other aware of any potential issues cropping up in their neighbourhood. You can join your local group, too.

Airbnb’s UK site has reached out to its hosts, asking them to support and offer rooms and homes to NHS workers who are risking their own health and safety in this time of crisis. If you have a spare room, you can do the same for those who are working stressful jobs or even to those who are losing their jobs and have nowhere to go.

3) Putting Entertainment and Conferences Online

Here’s something everyone with access to the internet can take part in. It’s something that’s being done at the corporate level and the personal community level. If you’re feeling isolated and cut off, if you’ve lost your job, if you can’t go to school or college, or if you’re simply bored, there are online communities, classes, and entertainment spaces open up for you to join for free.

Because countries around the globe are asking people to self-isolate at home, cinemas, theatres, and other community spaces are closing their doors. And so, The National Theatre in the UK have decided to stream their live performances via YouTube. For seven days, a play will be available via the National Theatre Live YouTube channel and then replaced by a new play the following week. They aren’t the only ones, The Theatre Cafe a beloved space in the West End are supporting local artists by offering live entertainment streams of art created for this very moment.

Then there are the free books. Online booksellers and libraries around the world are making access to their digital libraries open and free during the COVID-19 crisis. If you’ve run out of fresh reading material, you’re short on money, and you’re home alone, there’s now a wealth of free reading material at your fingertips. Indie presses in the UK have joined together to form a weekly book group of some of the best translated fiction that anyone can join. Maybe you’ll make some new friends!

4) Online dating and Friendships

If you thought the dating scene was dead right now, you’d be wrong. It’s simply a matter of getting creative. Take your date online via Skype and have an intimate night in across the internet like thousands of others are doing right now. It’s impressive how many ways people have found to date and typical dating companies have certainly risen to the occasion by providing online dating groups!

Traverse are hosting online brunches and pub quizzes via Zoom where you’ll have the chance to meet and connect with new people, connections which may even lead to a blossoming romance. Or, at the very least, a new friendship. And, right now, we need all the safe connections we can get.

And, of course, there are the creative friends who have been staying close to one another thanks to Zoom and Skype. Wherever you are, you can organise a group hangout via Zoom with your friends around the country or the world. You might want to all watch a movie at the same time on Netflix and chat about it via their Netflix Party platform, or even put on an entire Shakespeare performance or reading group together over Zoom, purely for fun and to exercise some of your creative muscles.

There are a lot of people feeling alone, bored and vulnerable right now, consider your interests and maybe put something together that could benefit you all in the long run. Or at the very least keep your socialising!

5) Helping with Children’s Education from Home

Something that has caused a major disruption to our lives is the closing of schools around the world, with some countries keeping their schools closed until at least the end of the school year, and possibly even longer. If you have kids of your own at home, and you are now in charge of their education, or if you’re a creative wondering how you can help, here are a few inspiring ideas.

Highwater Gallery, a tattoo studio based in Swansea, South Wales, has closed its doors for now and redirected its artists’ creative energies into designing beautiful outlines for young children to colour in. They’ve asked parents to send in their kids’ completed artwork for them to share online and promote a little joy and inspiration for their local community. If you’re an artist, a designer, a writer, or any other kind of creative, consider how you can put your skills and energy into making your own teaching materials to offer parents for free during this tough time.

British author Matt Haig has been homeschooling his children for a while now, and is offering advice via his Twitter feed. He has mentioned that teaching science means going for walks and discussing the trees and the birds. Teaching English means getting your kids to read books and write poems, Audible are offering free children’s stories to everyone.

Consider all of this if you have kids at home right now. Think about how you can nurture their learning during this unique situation in a way that a classroom setting simply can’t. Or if you don’t consider how you could share your unique skills to struggling parents right now.

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