I’m setting up a group for the road I live on, to help people who are no longer able to go out due to Covid-19.
If you’ve got something similar going on where you are, how did you go about setting it up?
So far, I’ve dropped a note round to all the neighbours (it’s a smallish cul-de-sac, so that was easy), with my name and contact details for people who might need help over the next few weeks – or for people who might be able to give help over the next few weeks.
I’ve got a few replies – both from older neighbours who will be self-isolating and from other neighbours who are happy to help. So far there are more helpers than helpees – but I’m sure that’ll change as we go along.
I’ve set up a WhatsApp group for the helpers. Although we’re neighbours, we don’t know each other, so I thought it was important that we get to know each other a bit and then we can start to think about how best we can help.
I think it’s vitally important that as helpers we don’t put ourselves in harm’s way. Also that we don’t pass anything on to the people we’re helping!! Quite apart from anything else, we won’t be much use if we’re ill ourselves.
So – doing someone’s shopping is OK, inviting them round for a coffee (or being invited in for one) isn’t!! We can drop the shopping off on the doorstep, we don’t have to see them face-to-face. A sort of grown-up version of knocky-nine-doors (you know the game, where you knock on someone’s door and run away – only now we ring the doorbell and leave food).
I also think it’s really important that the people who are being helped retain some control over their situation – I don’t want us to go bowling in and say, ‘We’ll do your shopping for you!!’ It’s much better if they tell us what they need. They may be perfectly happy to shop online but need someone to walk the dog, for example.
Some things we will need to think about as time goes on –
- If we are shopping for someone, how will they pay for the food? Cash is the obvious answer – but what to do when it’s used up? They can’t exactly go to the bank for more, and many older people don’t trust online banking.
- Are we just going to help people who are self-isolating but not ill? Or will we help people who are actually poorly? What if they are confirmed as having Covid-19?
- What things would be most useful? Shopping is an obvious one. Also picking up medication. Walking the dog. Phoning someone for a chat to help alleviate their boredom and/or loneliness. Maybe some people would like a regular phone call to check that they’re OK? Anything else?
- Should we allocate one helper to one helpee (to reduce overall contact) or should all the helpers help all the helpees (so no-one is left in the lurch if a helper is also taken ill or has to self-isolate)?
I’m sure there will be more!!
There’s lots to think about. It’s really really important that we don’t let the difficulties get in the way of actually being neighbourly. There are plenty of bridges to be crossed. Let’s take them one at a time, and accept that this is new territory for all of us.
None of us can solve the problem – but all of us can do something to help make it just a tiny little bit easier to cope with.
What other things do you think people might need help with?
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