Ideas To Offer Help And Get Help During This Challenging Time

Ways to stay connected, support small businesses, and more.

Illustration by Cynthia Marinakos.

In Australia, it wasn’t long ago we were battling fires. Now, like the rest of the world, we’re tackling the virus. Once again it seems like we’re being tested. Once again we are called to show the power of our community. And our communities here — and all over the world are stepping up.

I’ve experienced wonderful practical support from businesses I support. For instance, US personal finance advisor, Ramit Sethi offered a 2-month grace period on course payments. This is incredibly helpful for me as the Aussie dollar has floored and homeschooling my child has affected how much I work.

Screenshot: Ramit’s offer to hold payments for online courses.

Another unexpected yet helpful instance of generosity came from my telecom company, Amazysim. They offered an unbelievable 20GB of data for free. This is so helpful as I run a business from home and connection has been sketchy online lately.

Screenshot: Example of unexpected generosity — by a telecom company.

A local resident created a Facebook group for buy/sell/swap: “This group is a positive place to support families who are struggling to find staples in this time of need!”

On another local Facebook group, a resident shared his mobile number to offer help to those self-isolating.

And a local supermarket owner Hitesh Palta was the first in Australia to offer an exclusive time for the elderly to shop. He told our national news, The Age:

“We need to stick together at this time. This is teamwork … we all need to help one another through this.”

These are just a few examples I’ve seen and experienced of the generosity, kindness, and help offered by local, national, and global communities. I’m sure you have seen this too.

What I want to share with you today is practical ideas and ways to offer help — and get help — during this challenging time:

  • If you’re struggling and need a hand to find staples
  • To learn how to be self-sufficient
  • 4 Ways to help keep our small businesses afloat
  • To stay connected to family, friends, and services
  • Community initiatives around the world
  • Local services

Where to get help and ways to offer help in the community

If you’re struggling and need a hand to find staples

Many Facebook groups have been created around the world to support those struggling and give us a place to connect. Examples of these include:

  • COVID-19 Coming Together (Vancouver)
  • Wirral COVID-19 Mutual Aid Support Group
  • Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK
  • 559 COVID-19 Barter
  • Coronavirus North West Support Group (Covid-19 2020)
  • Eastlake — Support COVID-19
  • COVID 19 — Abundance and Sharing Melbourne

To learn how to be self-sufficient

Join Grow your own food groups and browse online for ways to make your own food.

I took a wonderful session to make bread once and the teacher is about to run online workshops and runs a private group to help us all share ideas on growing and making food.

For the elderly or those who need to self-isolate

  • Offer to buy food and supplies
  • Give them a call
  • Visit your elderly friends and relatives
  • Send an old fashioned postcard, gift, or letter
  • Share support line phone numbers: For instance, UK offers Silver Line for cheerful chats, day or night, and Age UK Advice for practical information and advice.
  • Encourage them to stay active — even standing often is better than lying or sitting around
  • Find subsidized or free meal services: for instance, a local Indian restaurant in my area offers free takeaway meals for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Join the #ViralKindess online movement that started in the UK: Becky Wass, from Cornwall in England’s southwest, created this brilliant template below — if you are still able to go outside, fill it in and drop it off to your neighbors:

Self-isolation template.

To keep our small businesses afloat

Many businesses have been forced to shut down — and those that aren’t are struggling. Without cash flow, our small businesses can’t pay rent, staff, buy supplies, and so much more. They could last a week, 2 weeks, maybe. But long-term, not many of us can continue without regular income while still having to pay expenses.

Ideas for customers and small businesses

Continue to buy from local small businesses: products, services, gift certificates

For membership-based businesses: keep your membership with them if you can. Some may be able to offer online options. Others may not, yet may give offers that can be redeemed in future.

Business assistance: apply for a cash flow boost, investment incentive, wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees, low-interest business interest loans (check your local council and state websites).

Facebook Small Business Grants Program: At the time of writing, the company is inviting applications for their $100 million small business cash grant and ad credits.

“We want to do our part too. Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities, and many of the people who run these businesses are heavily affected by the crisis…We’ve heard loud and clear that financial support could enable them to keep the lights on and pay people who can’t come to work.” — COO Sheryl Sandburg in a 16 March Facebook post

Got any more ideas on how to help our small businesses? Leave a comment.

To stay connected to family, friends, and services

Social connection is as essential to our survival as food and water. Call and get online to keep in touch with loved ones. With yoga studios. Schools. Also to reach out for support services — many are taking their services online.

There are many. I personally use:

What do you use? Share it as a comment below.

Caution: Be vigilant online
Many wonderful, supporting groups are popping up. Share, be informed, and stay in touch. As always online, take care of your personal details and be wary of false information and advice. In any situation, there are always some who look for ways to take advantage of others.

Community initiatives

Here are just a few examples of the support offered by communities — to communities within various countries:

Canada: Quebec Temporary Aid for Workers Program

Offers financial help to workers in isolation who can’t work and can’t get help from other programs.

UK: Coronavirus Response Fund Grant

Offers grants up to £5,000 for local charitable and community organisations who support vulnerable groups.

France: Homeless self-isolation centres

France’s Ministry of Housing offers two self-isolation centres in Paris to shelter homeless people infected with COVID-19. It will also set up shelters in every region in Fance, especially those in higher populations.

US: Boston Resiliency Fund

This fund will help coordinate efforts through existing nonprofits — to help feed children and seniors, offer remote learning for students, and childcare support for health care workers and first responders.

Australia: Funding for Queensland arts sector

The state is giving $8 million in relief and waiving rental payments until December to help small-to-medium arts organizations pay their bills and keep people employed.

Local services

Many local council services may still run online. For instance here are what’s being offered in my area:

  • Youth services by skype or phone
  • Maternal and child health deliver services remotely via phone and video.
  • Activity groups for older residents closely monitor and support clients with regular phone contact
  • 24/7 library: e-books, e-magazines, e-audio books, movie streaming and children’s educational games (staff on call to answer questions during business hours)

Check your council websites for what’s continuing in your area and ways to access services.

Summary

Our community is filled with people who are doing it extra tough. As you’ve seen here, it’s also filled with kind, thoughtful, and generous people and organizations who are working tirelessly to help the community through this difficult time.

Our elderly need extra love and support — you’ve now got a few ideas on how we can do that for them. And how to keep connected yourself.

Many services have taken themselves online. Check websites for services. Keep in touch with the world and your loved ones in different ways. And while you get online more often, stay vigilant with privacy and security.

Together, we’ll get through this and come out stronger as a community. This is how the power of our community will bring us together in the face of disaster.

The virus has shown us how quickly it can spread — across the world. Let’s do the same with acts of kindness. Let’s infect our communities — let’s infect the world — with practical help, gratitude, and love.

Aussie Copywriter. I love rock climbing high ceilings and hiking amongst ferns >> 10 Proven ways to attract more Medium readers: https://bit.ly/3g2e2xx

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