Kindhearted People Are Leaving Notes For Their Elderly Neighbors Asking If They Need Anything

by Stephanie

The world is going through an extremely difficult time at the moment. With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, we are living in extremely uncertain times.

Many of us have already begun working from home or self-isolating entirely, while others are still trying to continue with a somewhat normal daily routine and remain strong amid all the panic.

Unfortunately, situations like these tend to bring out the worst in people. We have all seen the stories of people getting into brawls in supermarkets, fighting over toilet paper, or other grocery items.

It's crazy, since now is a time when, more than ever, we need to be extra kind to one another. This is especially true when it comes to the elderly and perhaps more vulnerable members of the community who may be struggling to cope or even obtain basic living essentials.

It's important to keep in mind that people who are already struggling or experiencing hardships will be finding it even harder to cope now in the current situation. They may be extremely frightened, vulnerable, and feel very alone.

Of course, this is a huge and global issue. But there are plenty of ways we, as individuals, can help out those in need right now.

Across the UK, people have been banding together to make sure their elderly neighbor's lives will remain as normal as possible during this difficult time.

32-year-old, creative advertising lecturer, Becky Wass from Falmouth, started the hashtag #viralkindness on social media last week.

She designed a printable postcard which encourages people to help out their more vulnerable neighbors. Especially those who may be self-isolating.

The cards have spaces for the person to leave their name and contact details, as well as the tasks they can potentially help the recipient with, such as 'picking up shopping,' or 'a friendly phone call.'

Becky shared her postcard on Facebook, along with a link to a printable PDF version. She wrote:

I’ve been feeling pretty helpless watching the news. Maybe you have too? I wanted to do something about it, so I’ve made a postcard that I’ll be posting to my older neighbours as this progresses (after washing my hands!).
If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I’ll feel better about it (I hope!) Coronavirus is scary. Let’s make kindness go viral.

Since Becky's post, which was shared thousands of times, many others have been inspired by her idea, and some have even started forming their own mutual aid groups as a result.

All over the UK, residents have been putting postcards through their neighbor's letterboxes, to let them know they are available to help if they are in need.

Those over the age of 65 are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and, therefore, anyone showing even the mildest respiratory symptoms has been advised to stay away from their elderly family members. For that reason, many older people are finding themselves left alone, and without anyone to help them.

The situation is bound to only get worse as self-isolation for those over the age of 70 is said to be just days away. With 2-million over-75's in the UK living alone, this is a scary concept.

Meanwhile, amid all the chaos, mutual aid groups have been flourishing, many of them having been established online. Volunteers can organize their efforts via WhatsApp and Facebook, as well as having online meetings.

Coordinated under the name ‘COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK’, the groups offer to help vulnerable members of the community with everyday tasks such as shopping, dog walking, and prescription collecting. The groups are also offering emotional support via telephone calls for people who are self-isolating and lacking human contact.

Craig Brown from Loughborough is an events professional who is running a local mutual aid group. He has been able to sign up 450 volunteers in just 36 hours.

"I was feeling quite sorry for myself initially because months of hard work put into my events business won’t materialize financially, but after we spoke about things properly we both agreed that there are people that are going to be hit far worse than we are, many could die and lots of elderly and vulnerable people will be left isolated without the help they need," Craig said.
"We decided there’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves and that we needed to get out there and try to make a difference in any way we can."

Craig and his girlfriend, Amy, are busy delivering the postcards "through every letterbox in Loughborough," as well as meeting with the university to discuss risk assessments and ensure the job is being done safely, and speaking to local businesses and food banks about putting together donations for the most vulnerable in the community.

"I started with a post offering to help one or two people and it has gone massive so quickly. I’m now just doing my best to coordinate all of the hundreds of people who are generously offering to help," he said.

Craig says the response from the elderly people has been "overwhelmingly positive."

"Elderly people feel cared for and the people who don’t need help yet feel extremely reassured that there is help available to them if and when they need it."
"Elderly people are sometimes reluctant to ask for help as they feel they a being a burden. Our willingness and eagerness to help them I believe makes them feel more comfortable getting the help they need."
Since Becky's post, which was shared thousands of times, many others have been inspired by her idea, and some have even started forming their own mutual aid groups as a result.

Charity worker, Peter Jones from Cheadle says he has also been buying groceries for his elderly neighbors.

"I am part of a WhatsApp group whereby if people are aware of any people self-isolating then they can basically alert us if there hasn’t been contact for a while, or if they notify us they are in need (there is a line and Facebook group they can contact).
The most effective is for elderly people – the problem though is that they are the ones without phones and Facebook, etc! It’s certainly tricky," he said.

Peter and his volunteer group have been monitoring their neighbors to make sure they're okay and checking in regularly.

"I think we all need to help people who need it," he added.

Of course, when shopping, we also need to keep others in mind and only purchase a sensible amount. We should avoid stockpiling to ensure there are enough groceries to go around for everyone.

Lucy Hutchinson from Essex-based home help service Any Little Thing said, "I think that the notes being put through neighbor's letterboxes is a kind idea, but ultimately if shop shelves are bare, anyone is going to struggle to obtain any form of shopping list."

"This idea is enforcing a sense of community, and I feel it is great that everyone pulls together, even in the trickiest of situations, however, this kindness should be promoted at all times, not only in a crisis. This is why we love what we do so much," Lucy said.

Lucy and her business are committed to helping people spend quality time with their loved ones, whilst also looking out for anyone who may not have friends or family close by.

While some shops have already started opening earlier to allow elderly people priority, Lucy would like to see this service as a kind of home help business, so that the shopping could be done on behalf of someone else.

Lucy Hutchinson from Essex-based home help service Any Little Thing said,

Unfortunately, the reality is, this pandemic has only just begun.

Those who are lucky enough to have health and youth on their side really need to step up at this difficult time. Our elderly and sick are extremely vulnerable and they need our help.

You can find your local COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK group here.

Unfortunately, the reality is, this pandemic has only just begun.

Here's how people have reacted to the #viralkindess campaign.

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