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Caremongering is the new scaremongering: how to help vulnerable people around you

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Kayleigh Dray
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11 easy ways to help people around you during the age of coronavirus

Stop scaremongering in the age of coronavirus, and start caremongering. 

“Have courage, and be kind.”

The world is in greater need of compassion and kindness than ever before. Why? Because coronavirus-induced panic has caused many of us to practice social distancing – and, in doing so, distance ourselves from the needs of others around us. Just look at those empty supermarket shelves if you don’t believe us.

Yes, people are thinking of number one. Yes, we have been told to avoid any unnecessary contact with other people. And yes, there seems to be a dearth of kindness in the world. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as Canada has proven.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s new home has beautifully shown the world how to deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: by caremongering, not scaremongering.

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The caremongering movement, which is rapidly spreading across Canada, has seen over 35 Facebook groups with more than 30,000 members between them.

“People are joining the groups to offer help to others within their communities, particularly those who are more at risk of health complications related to coronavirus,” reports the BBC.

It’s worth noting, of course, that practicing compassion doesn’t just count towards the greater good. Indeed, research has proven that displaying kindness towards others improves our own health and wellbeing, too.

So, if you’re feeling inspired to some good in the age of Covid-19, here are 11 easy ways you can help others around you during this pandemic.

Support your local food banks

Keep donating food: food banks need our help now more than ever. Store cupboard items such as pasta and rice (if you can find any) are in particular demand. Or, if you are self-isolating, make a financial donation online instead – the food writer Jack Monroe has started a GoFundMe for The Trussell Trust, or you can donate directly.

A woman reads email on her phone
Pick up the phone and start dialling.

And on that note…

Support a charity that’s dear to your heart, learn to sign (you can learn British Sign Language from home in your own time), sign up to the organ donor register, donate coats and blankets to a homeless shelter, buy a book online from an independent bookshop, order a takeaway from your local restaurant… you get the picture. Be charitable, and think about others.

Pick up the phone and start dialling

Don’t just text or whatsapp your friends and family: call them. On the actual phone. Ask them how they are, and really listen to their answer. And remember, speaking over the phone isn’t just a great way to stay connected: your calls can make a huge difference to the happiness and wellbeing of a vulnerable, elderly or isolated person. 

Please, give them a ring.

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Join online communities and support groups

Whether that’s the Working From Home With Stylist page on Facebook, where we’re all joining forces to support each other through this period of social-distancing, or your local neighbourhood’s community page, stay connected with other people. Lend an ear when they need it. Pay someone a compliment. And, if you have the power to help someone, do. Let’s all try to look out for one another, now more so than ever before.

Support vulnerable or isolated people in your neighbourhood

You could pop your phone number on a flier and post it through your neighbours’ letterboxes for anyone who needs a chat. You could write cards to your neighbours. Or you could offer to help with shopping or running errands (use an app like Nextdoor to see if your neighbours need assistance). 

Don’t worry about transmitting the virus: you can always leave the bags on the doorstep. 

Buying wine and pasta at Waitrose is about to become a whole lot greener
Try to shop local.

Shop local

All establishments are taking all the precautions they can to look after your safety and the safety of their staff. So, as long as you are mindful of social distancing and not crowding a space then you can shop away. Similarly, look to online grocery services like Boxxfresh, who source all of their produce from independent farms and businesses.

Don’t buy what you don’t need

Yes, you need pasta. No, you don’t need 60 bags of the stuff. Put down what you don’t need and leave it for someone else who does.

Buy gift vouchers

Buying gift vouchers will help small businesses, makers and creators. The same goes for your usual yoga instructor, or the performers and musicians who have had their gigs cancelled. if you have money coming in, send a little their way to help them through this tricky time.

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Share accurate information and advice

When using social media, be mindful that this may be a frightening and isolating time for many. Be kind. Be supportive. Be sure to offer help and advice where you can. 

Above all else, though, try not to spread unfounded rumours that may cause upset or panic. Here at Stylist, we’ve an article outlining the dangerous coronavirus myths you should not be sharing, as well as the fake news-busting tweets you absolutely should be.

Be kind online

Let’s not forget the vow we made to be good digital citizens earlier this year. Before you post a comment or like a tweet, take a step back and seriously consider if the message in any way could offend or bring somebody down. If so, don’t like or comment on it. 

The same goes for dealing with negativity (for example, Piers Morgan’s scaremongering tweets): yes, call it out. Report it. Condemn it, even. But try to do so respectfully. Because if you stoop to a troll’s level, you really are no better than they are.

A girl washing her hands and organising her house
Be sure to take care of your own mental health when you're self-isolating

And finally… carve out some time for yourself

You are affected by all of this, too. The constant headlines, the endless sense of worry, the uncertainty of what’s coming next… it’s all going to have an impact. And so, each and every single day, try to do something that brings you joy.

This doesn’t have to be a big thing. For example:

  • Do some drawing
  • Go for a walk
  • Write in your journal
  • Write short stories
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Read a book
  • Spend five minutes away from your desk
  • Download a podcast to listen to
  • Turn your phone off for an hour
  • Treat yourself to a proper tea break (maybe with slice of cake to nibble on, too)
  • Sing like nobody’s listening
  • Get an early night

This list isn’t exhaustive, but you get the picture. Just make sure that, whatever you decide, you give yourself some “me time” each day.

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Remember: if you think you might have coronavirus, do not visit your local GP or hospital. Instead, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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