Coronavirus and Community Spirit – A ‘Light’ in Difficult Times
The world is worrying right now; things are uncertain, but the past few months have shown that there are still things to celebrate despite this pandemic.
We have all managed to look around us, to appreciate the benefits of ‘staying local’ and to support our local businesses. We now know our neighbours, ‘look out’ for others, thinking about those outside of our own family, their plight, and how Covid might be affecting them.
We now know that “we must protect the vulnerable and the elderly”, considering everyone with rightful equal worth.
When it all Began…
In March 2020, I don’t think any of us realised the extent to which this new virus would impact our lives, but the first lockdown pulled us together for the ‘greater good’.
The ‘clap for carers’ initiative every Thursday night at 8pm provided us with a focus, gave us a ray of hope and positivity, and took away the doom and gloom. We celebrated and appreciated the hard-working NHS staff and critical workers that risked their health every day to help others. This gave us a chance to share in ‘something else’ positive with our neighbours and we started to chat to them, connecting in a way we never had before.
A Helping Hand
Things snowballed. In my small town, people wanted to help, and engaged through social media, posters, or with notes through doors with a clear message: “We are a community, and you are not alone”.
A local group was formed with volunteers covering each area, meaning help with emergency prescriptions or food supplies was just a phone call away. Aided by the local supermarkets, there has been a huge surge in donations to food banks. With so many more people newly redundant and unable to work, the demand for help has also risen.
My fellow local residents have been collecting donations of hand cream, lip balm and treats to deliver to health care workers in hospitals, GP surgeries and pharmacies. Sewing groups have popped up making scrubs, scrub bags and face masks from old bedding and material.
Suddenly not being able to see relatives, particularly elderly relatives who live alone, we’ve all gained a new understanding in how important keeping contact is; how even a regular phone call or short visit - a smile through the window - can make the world of difference.
This has certainly been the case in our family. Time together has been replaced with more practical help at the moment. Including dropping off hot meals every week, teaching my 84-year-old mother how to FaceTime or sending surprise cards or flowers. Also arranging doctors appointments or collecting shopping.
I have certainly learned never to underestimate the power of something as simple as a hug. Something my daughter reminds me of every day when she can’t hug her grandparents. So, I hope that as the world returns to some kind of normality, people don’t forget this.
Long Term Support
With these informal support networks providing vital help, it has also highlighted a need. For many people who have no family nearby and who need more regular help than an occasional collection, what are the options?
For older or more vulnerable people who may not necessarily need personal care but who are shielding or unable to get out and need some support, ILA has proved to be a lifeline.
The help ILA offers is not just limited to these difficult times, but is ongoing. With full flexibility in the level of help provided each month, ILA allows you to tailor the support to suit you.
ILA’s methods of support have all been adapted to ensure they are more COVID-safe, which is particularly useful during lockdown. Having one person you can rely on, to minimise contact with others but who can help both within and outside the home is hugely beneficial.
I really hope this past year has made people realise that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, that sometimes we all need support to make our life easier.
Whether it is cleaning, meal prep, shopping, helping set up tech, or just a little company, ILA has a network of local caring individuals who are changing people’s lives for the better.
Things won’t change overnight, but with the vaccination programme underway there are positive signs for the future. With the over-70s priority for vaccination, there is new hope that seniors will feel more able to resume life as a new normal and will start to feel less uneasy about contact with others soon.
We cannot pretend that life during the COVID pandemic has always been positive or easy, but sometimes focusing on the little things and acts of kindness restores our faith in human nature.
For more information on support services offered by ILA visit Household Support Services for Elderly in Kent,Surrey,Sussex (www.ila.life)
By Hazel Adeyemo