“Good works is giving to the poor and the helpless, but divine works is showing them their worth to the One who matters.” (1)
Since the start of COVID-19 in China, 2019, the virus has since spread across the world, claimed thousands of lives, and instilled fear in people. During this time, it showed 2 sides to humanity; the greed of people stockpiling, panic buying, and taking as much as they could for themselves leaving others need, and, in some cases, desperate. The other side of humanity being the community resilience, the love and support for those affected, support for those on the front line, and for those who want to help others.
Waking up each day not knowing what to expect in terms of work, getting my medication, and going about my usual daily life, I took each day as it came. Members of my family were starting to work from home, and it was only myself and one of my brothers who were required to leave the house for work purposes. Every evening, me and my family would watch the news to stay informed and up to date with what was going on in the UK.
I would leave home early in the morning, and walk through empty streets. Hardly a soul in sight. The roads were so much quieter too, with the odd car going past. No children with parents going to school, no one walking the streets to get to work. By the end of March, I was the only family member to get up and go to work everyday. Work was also very peaceful, and discussions were made on what we would do moving forward to protect the staff, clients and unit from the virus.
Me and my family all participated in the weekly round of applause for all NHS and care staff. Seeing our neighbors very briefly across the streets and fireworks lighting up the sky each week was wonderful as we hardly got a chance to see them.
It was an unusual and surreal time.
I passed more police cars on the way to work. Some were driving around patrolling my local village, ensuring that people were staying inside and not breaching any of the safety measures.
Getting my medication was a pain… my local pharmacy only allowed 2 people in at a time, and I had to stand 2 meters away from the door. The staff had face masks, and ordered all customers to keep a distance between each other when queuing both inside and outside. When coming to pick up my medication, I had to say my name, and what I was going in for…even worse was actually getting medication inside the pharmacy. Even with a small queue of people, I had to state my name and address out loud so I could get it, even if there were others in the store…
Concerns among my family shot up when an uncle was diagnosed with COVID-19…. He had asthma and also developed pneumonia in one lung… through persistent prayer and help from the NHS staff, he survived and was sent home!
During this time, I met, and worked with people who reached out to help others, and going to great lengths to help their communities during this uncertain time. People began creating online groups to help raise awareness and send donations to front line staff.
I was invited to join an open Facebook group called ‘Birmingham Community Solidarity: Coronavirus Response’, where I was able to reach many people already involved in helping the community and helping others. Networks were established and I was given the details of a community warehouse that were accepting and distributing donations for NHS staff.
In my part time job as a Co-op Member, Pioneer, I had to cancel all in-store events and community activities, such as my litter pick, and in-store face to face events. Whilst this was frustrating, it gave me the opportunity to work with my Co-op Colleagues, and really make a difference to those on the front line. Over the weeks during March and April (which will continuously take place until COVID-19 dies down) my Co-op store in Yardley Wood did a huge amount of work supporting those on the front line.
My store put together 20 Care Packs and donated 50 Easter Eggs for NHS Workers, to thank them for their dedication and commitment to saving lives. These were sent to the warehouse to be distributed. Another 50 Easter eggs were later donated to the Food Pantry to go to families with children who were struggling over Easter.
We later put together a ‘Thank you’ pack for the Billsleley police, and Billseley fire service to thank them for still helping the community, and extra food was donated to a newly established community food bank to help those who were isolated, vulnerable, and in need of food.
My store manager also went above and beyond his role, by putting together and delivering food shopping for the elderly, lonely, housebound and those within the ‘shielding’ category.
A district nurse got in touch, and asked if some support could be offered to help them and their team by the Co-op. They were still doing front line work, going out into the community and visiting elderly, lonely, and unwell patients, putting their health and safety on the line. Utilizing my small Co-op budget; investments in 100 pairs of safety gloves, 50 face masks, and 100 miniature bars of soap for Community District Nurses was made.
Within my community Facebook group; Yardley Wood Community Engagement, people began privately messaging me, asking me to put them in touch with district nurses and other front line staff, so they could donate equipment to support them. More networks were made, and more people were beginning to come forward and show their love and appreciation for front line staff.
The love and generosity demonstrated by many people in my communities and by my colleagues has been incredible! So many people have gone above and beyond to help those on the front line, and those in need.
However, one question remains…. when will all this come to an end?
(1) Goodreads ‘Consideration Quotes’ Available online at: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/consideration?page=1 Accessed on 22/03/2020
Poem Hunter ‘Criss Jami; Autobiography’ Available online at: https://www.poemhunter.com/criss-jami/biography/ Accessed on 22/03/2020
World Health Organisation ‘Rolling Updates on the Coronavirus’ Available online at: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen Accessed on 22/03/2020