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Keep Calm and Carry on Caring
With the Coronavirus pandemic now sweeping the globe, we all need to heed the Government’s warning to stay at home and observe strict social distancing rules to safeguard our NHS and look after our families. But even in these exceptional times, there are some simple ways that you can help yourself feel more in control and make a real difference to the most vulnerable in your community. Rachel Hardy, Chief Executive of Foresters Friendly Society discusses five things you can do to keep calm and carry on caring at this time of crisis.
Call or video chat with elderly or vulnerable people: Research by the Campaign to End Loneliness found half a million older people already experience protracted periods of isolation. This will only increase as the elderly now have to self-isolate for 12 weeks to stay safe. Just checking in by phone or video call and asking them how their day has been can be enough to change someone’s whole outlook. Looking after our members has been part of Foresters’ ethos for many years, and in 2019 our members made nearly 13,000 care contacts to keep in touch with each other.
Donate to your local food bank: Food banks are currently experiencing increased demand plus a fall in donations. To help them support as many people as possible, consider donating even a couple of tins of food next time you visit the supermarket. Many food shops have a collection at the front of the store where you can leave any donations and staff will make sure they get to those in need. Alternatively, you can find out where your local food bank is and then you can deliver to them direct.
If someone vulnerable needs extra help with food shopping, it may be worth offering to pick up their food alongside your own. Becky Wass, from Falmouth, Cornwall, designed a postcard to let neighbours who can't leave the house get the support they need. The postcard has now gone viral and everyone can print to share with their neighbours too, and it can be found here.
Take time out to practice mindfulness: Everything is changing quickly at the moment and constant news updates can make it hard to switch off. Going for a quick walk everyday is encouraged even under the Government’s latest lockdown measures. Stepping out of the house to go for a short walk can help you to put everything into perspective and help you to feel calmer. As April marks Stress Awareness Month, it’s also worth talking to those around you about how you are feeling as they may be able to help you work through your feelings and relieve any anxieties you may have. Additionally, apps like Headspace are a great way to help you to relax, meditate, improve your mental health and feel better over time.
Organise virtual activities: While we must adapt to this “new normal” it doesn’t mean all fun has to stop. With Easter around the corner, this is a great excuse to get everyone involved in a fun indoor activity. Why not host a virtual egg painting contest, bake Easter biscuits for yourselves or even host an Easter party for those in your household. Video calling apps such as Zoom and HouseParty have become popular ways that people are staying in touch with their friends and family and socialising together. Having to stay in isolation can cause a strain on family life and can be especially difficult to explain to young children who are used to socialising with friends or playing outside, encouraging them to talk to their friends over the phone or via video call can help to offer a sense of normality to their day.
What to do if you are struggling with financial hardship: The outbreak of Coronavirus is also having a large impact on many people’s finances with job uncertainty and lost earnings an issue for many. Foresters Friendly Society is able to provide financial support in some cases for its members in the form of discretionary grants. The Foresters Support Fund can help adult members in times of hardship, paying up to £2,000 to get members through difficult times. Additionally, as part of Foresters Child Support Fund, Foresters is able to provide financial assistance to children such as those who are bereft of one or both parents; children who have parents that are incapacitated; children who themselves are incapacitated or have special needs and children who are carers. For more information visit our members’ pages to find out about the benefits we offer.