Join The NHS’s Volunteer Army & Other Ways To Help During The Coronavirus

Photographed by Eylul Aslan
Many around the world have already chosen to practise social distancing, while others have self-isolated a countries try to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak. And while we can feel pretty helpless against a disease over which we have no power, there are many ways to help the vulnerable during this difficult time.
According to the World Health Organization, the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart and lung respiratory diseases) are most at risk of developing a severe form of the virus. Boris Johnson has urged the over-70s to self-isolate at home for 12 weeks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
Self-isolation can have severe economic, physical and emotional consequences for many, including those who are on zero-hour contracts, the self-employed or employees who are not entitled to sick pay. That's not to mention the many elderly people who are lonely and those with mental health problems.
For those who are fit and healthy, and want to help – in ways big or small – here are some things you can do to support your community during the coronavirus outbreak.

Follow health advice

It's imperative that you stay at home and self-isolate if you are exhibiting any of the coronavirus symptoms: a new continuous cough or a high fever. The NHS advises that you do not need to contact them at this time but if your symptoms worsen, you must dial 111. If you have been abroad, had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or have exhibited symptoms, you and whomever you live with should self-isolate at home for 14 days. Even if you are not sick, it is now imperative that you stay in your homes except for grocery shops, exercise (one per day) and work that absolutely can't be done from home. When you
It is also important that you wash your hands frequently with soap and water and distance yourself from others by at least two metres or six feet.

Join the NHS and their Volunteer Army

On Tuesday, the NHS announced it was looking for a 250,000 strong army of volunteers to help the 1.5 million people with underlying health conditions that may make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. The Army will be called on to deliver medicines from pharmacies, take patients to hospital appointments, bring them home from hospital and/or make regular phone calls to check in on people who are isolating at home. The NHS want to make clear the Army isn't to replace neighbourhood responders, it's simply an additional service.
Although at this point over 250,000 people have signed up, way surpassing the government's target, it is still possible to sign up to help at this point.

Join a mutual aid group

Hundreds of mutual aid groups are popping up across the country to support the most vulnerable in their towns and communities during the outbreak. Many of these groups are run by volunteers who are delivering food, prescriptions and offering advice to those who are self-isolating, especially to elderly and disabled people. To find your nearest mutual aid group, visit the COVID-19 Mutual Aid group directory here. If there isn't a group listed in your local area, click here for some advice on how to set one up.

Donate money to those in financial difficulty

Many people will be suffering severe economic hardship as we try to keep ourselves afloat through the coronavirus uncertainty. If you are able to donate, plenty of charities and organisations are calling out for donations for those in need. These include:
Hunger charity FareShare is calling for more food, funding and volunteers to support the most vulnerable. You can show your interest here and donate here.

Stop stockpiling

UK supermarkets published a joint letter asking shoppers to stop stockpiling and to be more considerate of others. You should only be purchasing the items you need so that more vulnerable members of society are not left without much-needed items. These include toilet roll, food, household items and sanitary towels.
In the letter, the supermarkets urged the public to "be considerate" in the way they shop. "We understand your concerns but buying more than is needed can sometimes mean that others will be left without.
"There is enough for everyone if we all work together."
Since then, many have taken the steps to limit what customers can buy - most limiting to just three of any product.

Give to food and beauty banks

As stockpiling continues supermarkets, food banks are facing additional pressures. There are hundreds of food banks across the country which could benefit from your generosity. Rather than visiting them or drop off points to donate food and beauty products it is wiser to stay home and to donate with your wallet so that the food bank can buy products as and when there is demand.
There will also be many people unable to afford personal hygiene and beauty products during the outbreak. Jo Jones and Sali Hughes have set up a GoFundMe for low-income workers and people living in poverty. Beauty Banks will provide the homeless and vulnerable with basic hygiene essentials such as hand wash, soap and hand sanitiser as well as laundry detergent. You can donate here.
The World Health Organisation says you can protect yourself by washing your hands, covering your mouth when sneezing or coughing (ideally with a tissue), avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and don't get too close to people who are coughing, sneezing or with a fever.

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