8 Ways to Spread Kindness During Lockdown

Despite the awful impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our everyday lives, it has also undeniably brought out the best in humanity. I have witnessed sparkling acts of kindness both online and offline, so I've taken inspiration and decided to share ways to spread kindness during lockdown.

Dr Oliver Sacks said: 
"Health and disease are alive and dynamic...they confront one another in perpetual hostility...yet the outcome of their struggle cannot be predetermined or pre-judged, any more than the outcome of a chess game or a tournament. The rules are fixed but the strategy is not, and one can learn to outplay one's antagonist, Sickness. In default of health, we manage, by care, and control, and cunning, and skill, and luck." 
(Awakenings, 1973) 

Learning to 'outplay' sickness through care was poignantly stressed by Dr Sacks himself, but it's worth reiterating now in 2020 after seeing it in action. Hundreds of thousands of people readily volunteered for the NHS, many more people are going out of their way to look after friends, neighbours and vulnerable strangers. People are virtually exchanging gifts, just because; and rainbows are springing up in windows across the country as a symbol of hope. It's so lovely to see, so here are some ideas: 

Check in your neighbours
You may not know what physical vulnerabilities your neighbour might have, that might mean that them going out would be putting their health seriously at risk. You may also never know just how isolated they really are, either. Would you really have noticed, before the pandemic, just how infrequently your neighbour down the road has visitors? Check in just by popping a note through their door with your number on it so they know you're there if they need anything. Even if they're okay and don't need anything, it's nice to make a neighbourly gesture: one of Fyza from Culture Eighteen's neighbours made hot cross buns and handed them out in zip lock bags during the 8pm Clap for Carers. My grandparents are both nearly 90 and thankfully have multiple children and grandchildren that live nearby, so we know they're not going without. But a couple of their neighbours knocked on their door to let them know they can get them anything they need, which was genuinely very appreciated. 

Support Independent Businesses 
Behind a small business is always a person, so our kindness should extend to their company too, which is facing potentially crippling economic uncertainty. To be honest, we all are, so even if you can't make a purchase, you can support independent businesses by liking and following them on social media. I've seen independent businesses more active online so they can continue to engage with their customers and community. The Cosy Cat Cafe in Herne Bay has been doing Facebook lives to show some of their resident cats daily activities, and the owner of La Luna has been sharing live guided meditations in the evening. Engaging with, and showing support and appreciation for these new online initiatives will probably mean a lot to small business owners, so I think it's really important to do.

Display your rainbow 
In a precious combination of cheesy and heartfelt, Brits have been displaying rainbows in the windows of their homes as a show of support to the NHS, neighbours - and to ease the public sense of trepidation. If you're lacking an artistic streak, Leia, an artist from Yorkshire, has shared her Grateful Rainbow illustration to download for free, in printable and phone wallpaper formats (and you can get a 10% discount on her shop with the code 'PAL10'). Click here to download. Leia is also hosting The Positive Pal's NHS Raffle where you can be in with an opportunity to win more of her artwork in return for a donation to NHS charities. 

Actively look after the vulnerable in your community 
Over a million people have been identified as being in the 'shielded' group who especially need help from us during this crisis. It may sometimes mean going out of your way, and it may not be just dropping off bread and milk, but this group are in for a long period of isolation and vulnerability, and they need us the most. Reaching out for emotional support is just as important as offering practical solutions to isolation. For example, Chloe from lifethroughdarkbrowneyes, and other members of her community, delivered heart shaped cookies baked by their local Red cross department to elderly care homes, to cheer up the residents who are too vulnerable to have visitors or leave the home.  

Become an NHS Volunteer Responder
There are lots of roles that will help healthcare services during the pandemic, a couple don't even require you leaving your house. Recruitment is currently paused for applications to be processed, but keep your eye on this NHS web page for updates. 
Amazon Wish Lists 
I noticed Amazon Wish Lists being shared on Twitter so 'internet friends' and strangers can send each other gifts just for the sake of spreading kindness. This was so heartwarming to see! I've also spied charities wish lists, like that of Rescue Animals of North Africa, who are really struggling at the moment because - not only do they have an influx of dogs and cats being dumped in Tunisia because owners are frightened that they'll catch the virus from them - but with all flights being cancelled, animal adoptions to the UK have been effectively put on hold. RANA's wish list is available here - they are in need of lots of items that are less than a fiver, but would go a really long way. 

Offer your special skill 
If you have a special skill that you can share with others, why not share it now? Joe Wicks is famously running online PE lessons, but maybe you're a Photoshop wiz that can offer a step-by-step tutorial, or perhaps you play an instrument and you can teach others through virtual lessons. Annie from Someday Tomorrow Blog is offering free PR consultancy to businesses. "Sadly, due to the virus I was made redundant from my job within a small PR agency" Annie told me. "Witnessing first-hand how severely the pandemic is impacting small businesses and their employees made me realise that I wanted to use my newly spare time to support them through it. Many business owners could not ordinarily afford the cost of PR services, so I decided to offer mine for free."

Give something to your community 
Driving through a nearby village recently, I noticed a community table was set up on a street corner. It was dotted with everything from bunches of daffodils, tins of soup, to books, there for anyone to take what they need. Why not set one up in your community, or - like I've seen outside a couple of houses - leave out unwanted books, DVDs and games etc for people to take to cure lockdown boredom. Or perhaps a gesture of community spirit as simple as chalking a hopscotch onto a pavement for children to play on, like Tara told me she has done. You don't need to do anything elaborate or costly, but if you are able to do something that will help to make lockdown less difficult, less painful and less monotonous, why not?

Thank you for reading! Check out the hashtag #SpreadKindness on Twitter for more inspiration.

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