It’s easy to feel helpless at times like these, especially when news around the world is changing moment to moment. But, there are a handful of things you can do in your local community to help out. Below, we’ve curated seven ways you can lend a hand during this uncertain time.
Stay at home
For many people, this is the easiest way to help. While some individuals aren’t able to work from home, those who can should be doing so in an attempt to keep as many people off public transport and away from highly populated areas as possible. To avoid a similar situation like Italy and Wuhan, we need to practice staying at home where possible. This will hopefully help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community (which is called ‘flattening the curve’) and will give our health system the time to prepare for and manage the situation.
While nothing about social distancing feels comfortable, it really is an easy way to do your bit. Staying at least three to six feet away from others in public could prevent you from getting sick, or from passing on any illness should you unknowingly be unwell. At this point, we are aware that many people are going to become ill over the next few weeks and months but if we do something as easy as social distancing, it could help stop the spread a little and help to protect our vulnerable community.
Donate to a food bank
While many things might feel uncertain at the moment, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that people need to eat. Donating to a food bank during this time is an easy way to lend a hand.
Foodbank is the largest hunger-relief organisation in Australia — servicing over 2,400 charities in every state and territory to enable them to provide food to 815,000 people a month. Thanks to the rise in panic buying over the last few weeks, Foodbank’s across the country have experienced item shortages.
“As with the broader community, we have experienced increased demand for key staple items, ranging from toilet paper and hand sanitiser to long-life products such as UHT milk, rice and canned products. To prevent this from affecting general supply where some charities could miss out completely, Foodbank is implementing limits on some products. It is important for charities to maintain business as usual so as not to cause unnecessary shortages.”
To lend a hand with Foodbank, you can either donate food, your time or money. While it’s up to you whether you want to volunteer in person, donating food items is extremely helpful. Otherwise, making a financial contribution to Foodbank will allow them to continue their important work. According to Foodbank, every $1 you donate provides two meals to an Australian going hungry.
Purchase gift cards
As we’re being encouraged to practice social distancing and to stay at home where possible, it makes it hard to support local cafes, bars and restaurants during this time. An easy way to give these businesses a quick cash injection is by purchasing a gift card. You’ll be giving the business cash when it most needs it and then you can redeem the voucher after all of this blows over.
As stated above, the next few weeks or months could be pretty hard on businesses, especially those small, independent ones. So, while we might have to stay home, many of these coffee shops and restaurants will most likely still be offering home delivery, so do take advantage of this. If you have the means, try to also give your food delivery driver a tip for their trouble.
Support independent artists and musicians
Freelancers, part-time workers and those in the creative industries have already experienced a tough time as businesses begin to temporarily close and concerts and events are cancelled. I Lost My Gig Australia is a website that is currently tracking the amount of lost work being experienced by performers, production and hospitality workers, booking agents and crew members with the latest lost income tally coming in at over $47 million.
While I Lost My Gig isn’t collecting any actual donations, they are putting people in contact with those who might have a work opportunity and listing potential initiatives on the website. If you think you have a relevant opportunity, contact I Lost My Gig here.
Otherwise, another way to support your favourite independent artists and musicians is simply by buying their art or merchandise online. While it won’t make up for their financial losses completely, it could help.
Check-in with loved ones
This can be a scary and anxiety-inducing time for people, especially those who might be in self-isolation. So, it’s important to reach out and check on the wellbeing of your loved ones. It could be as simple as a daily text or phone call, or a coffee catch-up over FaceTime. Be kind to yourself and your loved ones over the next few weeks as everyone is operating under stress.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.