In uncertain times, like these, caring for each other and our communities has been proven to make us feel better. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen amazing work taking place in communities as people have chosen to rally together and support those who are isolating or most vulnerable.
Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have also signed up to volunteer their time and support others, following a call from the NHS for volunteers.
Online, we’ve seen community groups and forums emerge to support the distribution of resources, time and labour – whether at a hyperlocal level with neighbours offering to pick up medicines, groceries or other essential supplies – or through established groups working to coordinate a networked response to the crisis.
We know, and research has proven, that social support and working together – cooperatively – are fundamental to community wellbeing and happiness. Our individual wellbeing is bound up in our collective responsibility to and dependency on each other – and it’s never been clearer than now as we are all asked to practice social distancing and isolation to protect ourselves, our communities and our NHS.
In the face of this crisis we’ve been inspired by the numbers of individuals, volunteers and community groups stepping up to support one another and show that even though we may be physically distancing from other people, it’s just as important as ever that we remain connected.
In Birmingham, we’ve seen new groups – like the Birmingham Community Solidary: Coronavirus Response – emerge, and existing organisations like The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham have worked hard to help us coordinate a citywide response to fight food poverty. As a result of the outbreak we know that foodbanks across Birmingham have come under great strain and many have had to take the difficult decision to close temporarily to maintain the safety of their clients and often elderly volunteers. Others continue to run, albeit often in different ways – working alongside partner organisations to ensure those in need are still able to access food parcels and support.
Volunteers from Bourneville Together, North Edgbaston Action Group and staff from The Active Wellbeing Society have played a key role is organising street by street collections and food deliveries too.
If you need support or food visit www.theaws.co.uk/relief
Online, we’re seeing instructors and session leads get to grips with technology and become virtual content creators – moving activities from the local park or community centre to Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other mobile apps.
View activities you can do and our schedule of Facebook Live Activities at: https://theaws.co.uk/activities/virtual-wellbeing/
Many location organisations such as Northfield Community Partnership and B31 Voices have launched Phone support services – offering a friendly chat and making sure that nobody isolated at home has to go without social contact. The Active Wellbeing Society are also offering a chat service for anyone who might need help or want to talk.
Find out more about our Befriending service at https://theaws.co.uk/friend/
And while we’re all working hard to make sure that communities are connected, fed and supported during this difficult time we recognise the sacrifice and efforts of frontline NHS staff and those in emergency services who are working hard to help keep us safe. To try and do our bit to support them during these challenging times, and show our gratitude and appreciation for their service, the Big Bike Project are loaning their fleet of bikes to anyone working in frontline emergency services.
Sharing is caring
We know a lot of people in our communities are scared and worried about the Coronavirus, and the impact it might have on them and their families. During this time, we want to shed light on the positive stories of people working together, helping the community and looking after each other.
Amongst all the fear and anxiety, and all the stories of panic buying, there are lots of stories of hope and kindness. Using #BrumTogether we will be sharing some of these stories on social media in the coming weeks, and we invite you to do the same.
If you have a positive story you want to share, you can do so by posting directly to the Brum Together Facebook page, through the form here or use the hashtag #brumtogether in your public social media posts.