The most important thing for all of us to do now to stop the spread of coronavirus is to stay at home. Here’s the official advice from the NHS explaining that in detail.
I’ve actually been at home and keeping away from people as much as possible since the start of March, when I had a chest infection. At the time my GP wanted me to be tested for COVID-19, but the hospital wouldn’t allow it as I didn’t meet the criteria for testing. So I don’t know if I’ve had the virus or not, but I do know that I felt more ill than I can ever remember feeling. Luckily nobody else in my family became ill, I recovered at home with the help of antibiotics, steroids and inhalers (I’m asthmatic) and I’m feeling much better.
Coping with social distancing
Now I’m isolating at home with my family, and going for a short walk from home once a day. I’m finding the hardest thing to cope with during this time of isolation and social distancing is the feeling of not being able to get out and actually DO something to help, even though I’m feeling OK. Because I have asthma, I fall into the same category as the over-70s and I have to be particularly careful to avoid catching the virus. I can’t sign up as an NHS volunteer and I can’t even work at the local residential home for disabled children where I do occasional shifts as a support worker.
How to help others when you’re self-isolating
So I’ve been trying to change my perspective and to think about ways of helping others safely from home. I’m not writing about travel here at the moment, but I wrote a post about How to explore London’s museums from home and another about How to explore London’s art galleries from home, and people seem to be finding those useful. Beyond the blog, I’ve found that there are other ways of helping people at this time, even without leaving home. In case you’re also finding it hard that you can’t get out and help, here are some things that you can do.
Accept that staying at home is helping!
If you’re staying at home and keeping away from people beyond your household, you’re already doing the most helpful thing that you can do to stop the spread of the virus and avoid using NHS resources. It may feel like you’re doing nothing, but you’re not – accept this!
Phone people up
Make time each day to keep in touch with friends, family and neighbours by phone, especially anyone who lives alone. As we can’t see each other physically, it’s really important to talk to different people.
Use chat & video conference apps
If you haven’t already, try out some chat and video conferencing apps so that you can see people as well as hearing them while you chat. You can use these to chat to several people at the same time. Our favourites are Facetime, Whatsapp and Zoom, which are all very easy to use. If you don’t know where to start, this article from Wired is helpful:
Help others to access apps
If you’re already using apps to chat with others, and someone you know is struggling to access them, call them by phone and do your best to talk them through how to do it.
Have a clear-out for charity
Even though charity shops are closed at the moment, when they open again they’ll be looking for donations of good quality items to sell. So while you’re stuck at home, go through your cupboards and see if you can find some unwanted items to donate.
Volunteer from home
It’s possible to work as a charity volunteer without leaving the house. For example, last year I applied to be a telephone advice line volunteer for a national charity, and I’m currently working through the online training for that role. If I get through the training, I’ll then do this voluntary work completely from home, by phone. Look on charity and voluntary organisation websites to see if there’s something that you can help with from home. You can also contact your local volunteer centre to see if they have any opportunities which would work for you. You can search for your nearest volunteer centre here.
If you can afford to do so, support your local food bank. The Trussell Trust supports more than 1,200 UK food banks, and says that more people are likely to need a food bank’s help as a result of the pandemic – in particular those who aren’t eligible for sick pay or have unstable jobs. You can donate to the Trussell Trust here.
Over to you
How are things going for you? Are you feeling that you want get out and help, but you can’t, for whatever reason? What ways have you found of helping others while you’re at home?
I hope that you and your family are safe and well, and I send you my very best wishes.