The coronavirus pandemic has spread rapidly in the last month, and as a result lots of people (indeed, most of us) are dealing with a new level of stress and anxiety, as well as increased self-isolation.
Many of us are not just concerned about coronavirus itself but also the impact on our friends and family, and the hardship we know so many people in our lives and communities are facing — whether it's financial worry, not being able to access essentials, or health impacts, both physical and mental.
As the examples below show, however, there are lots of things, both big and small, that people can do to help each other out — even while practicing "social-distancing".
In that same spirit, Global Citizen has launched "Together At Home" — a virutal concert series featuring musicians and artists live-streaming performances every day over Instagram from home to audiences around the world, to help combat isolation.
We’d love to hear from you on social media about what community-support activities are happening in your area as well!
1. Singing from apartment windows
Italians inspired the world when people started to sing folk songs, pop songs, and even football anthems from their balconies after the country went into lockdown last week.
The videos circulating on social media show some impressive instrumental performances too.
The ad hoc singing sessions have proved that it is possible to bond over a shared experience with our neighbors during a crisis.
Italy is one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19 and has taken increasingly strict measures to keep people inside, including discouraging families from going on walks together, CNN reports.
People of my hometown #Siena sing a popular song from their houses along an empty street to warm their hearts during the Italian #Covid_19#lockdown.#coronavirusitalia#COVID19#coronaviruspic.twitter.com/7EKKMIdXov— valemercurii 🌍 (@valemercurii) March 12, 2020
In the video above people in the city of Siena, Tuscany, are singing "Canto della Verbena (And While Siena Sleeps)". Another popular choice has been pop song "Abbracciami" (meaning "Embrace Me"), while Napoli football fans decided to sing together from their apartments on the night their match would have taken place.
2. Messages of support shared around communities
Francesco and Greta Innominati wave after placing a banner reading "Everything is gone be all right" out of a window of their apartment in Rome on March 13, 2020. Children’s drawings of rainbows are appearing all over social media as well as on balconies.
As governments have made increasing drastic decisions to restrict movement and social interaction during the coronavirus outbreak, many people have opted to self-isolate, either because of underlying health conditions, or because they have symptoms they don't want to spread.
We found this in the mailbox today. Social distancing doesn’t mean you stop looking out for your community. Stay safe and stay kind, everyone ♥️ pic.twitter.com/WzHQx7nStX— Suleika Jaouad (@suleikajaouad) March 15, 2020
Luckily, that hasn’t meant people are trapped inside and forgotten about. In many communities, neighbors have been delivering postcards or putting up notices in apartment buildings with their contact details offering to run errands or have a chat, while others are heading to social media to offer support.
Becky my wonderful wife came up with a great idea last night, and it's already going viral. Wash your hands, print this, fill it out and pop it in your neighbour's letterbox. Simples. #viralkindness#COVID_19uk#coronavirusukhttps://t.co/wnxVhvk742pic.twitter.com/tnVQMIiSMI— Jonny Green (@MrJonnyGreen) March 13, 2020
That includes Becky Wass, from the UK, who created her own info card for her and her neighbors to fill out so they can find out who needs support, as seen in the message above. These kind of gestures will likely be a crucial lifeline for elderly and more vulnerable members of communities.
3. Volunteers delivering the essentials
Des Moines Area Religious Council food pantry worker Patrick Minor prepares to pass out food at a senior center in Des Moines, Iowa on March 17, 2020.
We’ve seen lots of informal networks cropping up around the world, as well as existing organizations recruiting volunteers to help people out who are struggling.
In Nevada, US, a medical student has set up a network of “shopping angels” who volunteer to do grocery shops and delivery for people who are more at risk from coronavirus and has been overwhelmed with responses from volunteers.
In the UK, meanwhile, more than 200,000 people have signed up as members of over 300 local support groups set up to help combat coronavirus, the BBC reports.
And it’s not just help with food shopping that's needed. London-based Beauty Banks, a grassroots non-profit that distributes toiletries to people in poverty, has raised over £85,000 in just four days to help their coronavirus effort.
They’ll be delivering hand sanitizers, soap, and other essentials to those who need it at food banks and elsewhere.
4. Applause for healthcare workers
Health workers react as people applaud from their houses in support of the medical staff that are working in COVID-19 outbreak in Barcelona, Spain, March 16, 2020.
Across Spain, Italy, and Portugal, Sunday night saw a coordinated effort to get people to their windows, terraces, or balconies to give a round of applause for the healthcare workers heroically working on the frontlines of the efforts against coronavirus. And on Tuesday, France did the same.
The massive rounds of applause were organised through social media and proved to be a simple but effective way for people to show their appreciation to healthworkers on a grand scale.
5. Dedicated shopping times for older people
Don Gregson, 81, loads what was left of distilled water jugs into his car after shopping at a Stop & Shop supermarket during hours open daily only for seniors Thursday, March 19, 2020, in North Providence, R.I.
After supermarket shelves were emptied in an initial stage of COVID-19 panic-buying, dozens of major retailers have taken the step of opening their stores at certain times only to older people and, in some cases, people who are more at risk from coronavirus.
This so-called “elderly hour” idea is giving older people the chance to shop away from crowds and get what they need.
Some stores are also offering it during the first hour of trading too, to allow people to get supplies before particular products run out.
The need for dedicated shopping hours serves as a reminder to everyone about the solidarity we need to show towards our fellow citizens who also need access to essentials.
6. Therapists stepping up online suppport
We’ve seen lots therapists head to social media to offer much-needed advice as people deal with increased anxiety and stress during the upheaval that coronavirus has caused.
Some have gone even further and made their services more widely available, online and free of charge. One small organization that has been unexpectedly thrust into the spotlight is the Help Hub – an online therapy service in Oxford, UK.
Initially meant to service a small local area, it was inundated with offers of support from therapists around the country and so now will work nationally, the Guardian has reported.
The organizers told the newspaper they are also making extra efforts to organize volunteers who can reach out to the most vulnerable, hardest to reach members of the community during the crisis.
7. The creatives delivering eye-catching, important information to us
According to the design magazine Dezeen, artists, filmmakers, and graphic designers haven't missed a beat and are now using their skills to distribute important health messages during the outbreak.
This virus doesn’t care about your passport or your bank balance. It can affect any of us. But hopefully not all of us if we act in unison to defeat it. Be safe. Be sensible. Be sensitive. One in, all in. Wash your hands. Keep your distance, but keep your hysteria in check too. Be kind to each other. Support local businesses. Keep in mind those less well off than you. Listen only to reputable sources (like @who ) We can do this, Earth. Good luck everyone. #covid #coronavirus #bekind #weareone #stayathome
Whether it’s animations explaining why it’s important to stay home, to cartoons on Instagram seen by tens of thousands of people explaining carefully what the symptoms of coronavirus are, the creative community have helped get the message out there – something that ultimately, helps save lives.
You can see all of Global Citizen's COVID-19 coverage here.