COVID-19: Community in a time of crisis

In an effort to spread good news in a time of crisis, local community spirit has been written about for the past couple of weeks. Without these small snippets of goodness, it is easy to become disillusioned by the current situation. All you need to do is search ‘Coronavirus good news’ and there are masses of articles reporting on the positive community stories.

The weekly ‘Clap for our Carers’ has escalated on some streets to drums and banging on pots of pans. Although some of these may seem extravagant and over the top, it is a simple way of bringing the community together in a time when we can’t physically be together and also to show mass appreciation for the amazing jobs of health professionals and key workers. After accidentally getting caught in the clapping on our daily walk, it was clear that community has come together more than ever; using the evening as a small social occasion, waving at neighbours before retreating back into their sitting rooms for another week. Even these acts of social and physical distanced smiles are quietly uplifting. Health workers clearly need more than clapping: they need more PPE, funding from the government and volunteers. Despite this, it is still an important acknowledgement from communities who can do little else, short of volunteering.

The search for community spirit is also happening in Leeds, as Leeds Live reports on Maria Forryan, a local mum in Morley, taking her piano into their driveway to bring a concert to her neighbours and people in surrounding streets. This uplifting story is just one of many local community stories around the country, and around the globe, so here’s some more uplifting news!

A street in Hebden Bridge organised to sit outside their homes and have a cup of tea together to give their neighbour who was feeling alone some needed social contact, even if it was socially distanced. In South Tyneside, a postman decided to deliver his mail in a different fancy dress every day to raise the spirits of his customers. In Keighley, Captain Tom Moore decided to walk the length of his garden one hundred times to raise money for the NHS for his 100th Birthday, already raising over £27 million. A teacher in Grimsby has decided to deliver school meals to one hundred children who, without him, might not be fed. The Mayor of London has made sure that no one in his community is forgotten by securing three hundred hotel rooms for rough sleepers to self-isolate in.

This positivity stretches far beyond the UK. In Hong Kong, a music teacher decided to give socially distanced piano lessons by hiring three trucks to deliver lessons to students. Residents in Copenhagen have been filmed doing their socially distanced workouts with each other on their balconies. Jane Martineaux, a Connecticut drama teacher, has prepared a shadow puppet show three times a week for the children in her neighbourhood. Milan has replaced Copenhagen’s balcony workout with balcony sing and dance-alongs. Seville went further: residents played Bingo from balconies with the help of a loudspeaker. In Queensland, Australia, two friends of four and six spent their pocket money on toilet paper for their elderly neighbours.

The question is: will this community spirit continue after lockdown?

Lockdown creates more time to think about community, but it also leaves a lot of time to think about what we will do once we’re allowed out again. This is a difficult time for everyone, but it has made apparent that some people were already in difficulty and needed help before the crisis. Reaching out to those in need is likely to decline post-lockdown. The elderly and vulnerable will still be elderly and vulnerable; still in need of neighbours to help them. They may not need help in such a drastic way, and it may not include an outdoor or virtual concert, but let’s hope that the community spirit will remain post-Coronavirus.

If you’re looking for more positive news, not just locally, follow the links below:

Ana Hill Lopez-Menchero

Image: Thoughtexchange.