Meet the Changemakers making Britain feel better

The coronavirus pandemic is putting our community spirit to the test. And plenty of good people are rising to the challenge. The Big Issue is a platform to share all that they are doing

These are uncertain times – as swathes of the country shut down to slow the spread of coronavirus, the wellbeing and livelihoods of many are on the line. But out of the chaos emerge heroes determined to do their bit for their communities and vulnerable people further afield. The Big Issue has long championed the Changemakers of the world, those whose bold ideas and drive to make a difference puts them at the forefront of the fight for disadvantaged people. Now, as the UK navigates a public health crisis unlike anything seen in our lifetimes, is no different. Social distancing has become a necessity to protect our vulnerable neighbours and our NHS – but that isn’t stopping people rallying around each other more than ever.

We know that this list is only scratching the surface and we will continue to update it throughout the coronavirus lockdown. From those who are making sure rough sleepers can do preventative hand-washing too, to small businesses diverting their resources to help local vulnerable people, to people simply showing a little extra kindness to their neighbours, these are the selfless Changemakers making an impact in the ongoing crisis.

  • Bath food stall Goulash are offering free deliveries of food to the elderly, and given they’re located next to a Sainsbury’s have offered to help with shopping for essentials too. Even as lockdown measures tighten, they continue to offer homemade goulash and mash potatoes to pick up on your daily walk to stock up the freezer.
  • Roman Bath Private Hire have also offered their services to the elderly or anyone who is self-isolating and needs shopping done, errands run or letters posted – for no fee.
  • KDM Local Gaming Hub in Llandrindod Wells have suspended their social events for young people, but are replacing them with regular streaming events to continue engaging with their local community.
  • A care home in Gorleston has launched an appeal for emails, letters and pictures for its elderly residents, saying they help them feel connected to the outside world.
  • Bolton’s Homeless Aid UK have started putting together food hampers for those over 65 who are self-isolating on medical advice, and hope to extend it to those who are doing it voluntarily. Their street kitchen remains open even in lockdown.
  • Bolton pop-up Empieor are giving away free pies to anyone who donates toilet roll – they’ll then deliver the toilet rolls to local charities.
  • To help support the Scottish arts scene, Quarantine Cabaret will host weekly cabaret nights via Instagram every Saturday, with funds raised given directly to artists who’ve had events cancelled as a result of the new measures.
  • Football may be on hold but Chelsea Football Club still want to play host. The football club are making the Millennium Hotel attached to their Stamford Bridge ground freely available to NHS staff. Former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville are doing the same at their Hotel Football, just yards from Old Trafford stadium. And Watford are making all their facilities at their Vicarage Road ground available to the NHS too.

  • Only a Pavement Away, the charity that supports vulnerable people into careers within the hospitality, have set up a hardship fund to help their members who are forced to self-isolate. They described the move as “just a small gesture”.
  • Pret a Manger has supported homeless people for a long time, including setting up their own homeless accommodation and mentorship programme. They had extended their support for NHS workers with hot drinks on the house and 50 per cent off everything else. But after closing on Saturday, they have donated their surplus food to help others, like McDonald’s.
  • With school closures kicking off across the UK, Denbigh School in Milton Keynes has already started creating packed lunches for children in Year 9 and 10 to collect if they are forced to stay at home.
  • The LFC Foundation have donated £40,000 to Big Issue Changemakers Fans Supporting Foodbanks to allow them to make up for lost collections at the now-cancelled remaining four Liverpool FC fixtures.
  • Langside Café in Glasgow had been delivering homemade soup to elderly and vulnerable people in the local area to help them keep the freezer stocked while keeping safe from the virus until they were forced to close on March 20.
  • Big Issue Changemaker Beauty Banks, founded by columnist Sali Hughes, has raised more than £90,000 to supply essential hand washing and personal care supplies to people in poverty.
  • Constantine Bay Stores in Cornwall had been running morning shopping sessions exclusively for those born before 1950 to reduce their risk of being exposed to the virus when stores are busier. They are still offering deliveries from today.
  • Glasgow social enterprise Weekday Wow Factor, which holds daytime discos for over-50s, is holding weekly virtual discos for those social-distancing at home using conference call technology.
  • Artist and comedian Noel Fielding has launched an online art club to keep kids occupied at home and is encouraging submissions for an online gallery.

  • London nightclub Studio 338, which has a capacity of 3,000, is temporarily turning its premises into a warehouse to store food and other essentials to be delivered to vulnerable people in the English capital. Bosses said they’ll throw a party for volunteers when the pandemic passes and it’s safe to do so. They’re also compiling daily playlists on Spotify and Soundcloud to make self-isolation sound better.
  • Manchester United and Manchester City supporters have teamed up to launch a “fans fund” which is going to be split evenly between the city’s 18 foodbanks.
  • We named Brewgooder a Big Issue Changemaker because of how they put their craft beer to good use in giving people around the world access to clean water. They’re at it again during the coronavirus pandemic with their One on Us campaign, urging supporters to buy a £6 four-pack of beer to raise a glass to the brave NHS workers on the frontline.
  • BrewDog is also crafting ways to support people. The punk brewers have switched to making hand sanitiser to support the NHS and opened their Online Bar Sessions last week enabling regulars from every BrewDog bar in UK, USA, Australia and Germany to reconnect and share a beer and even take on virtual pub quizzes and homebrewing sessions.
  • Countdown favourite Carol Vorderman is making up for school shutdowns by letting kids aged between four and 11 use her online maths school The Maths Factor for free. The numbers haven’t been adding up just yet – the demand has led to server problems – but once they’re sorted it’s a great way to keep little ones’ minds ticking over.

  • Many a kid will be staving off boredom or keeping in touch with pals on Minecraft while they’re stuck at home so you might as well make it educational. Educational worlds have been made available for free from the Minecraft Marketplace, allowing access to lessons that let your kid tour a (admittedly quite blocky) International Space Station or the inside of the human eye.
  • We know you need reading material and even though libraries are shut, they know it too. That’s why Kingston Libraries are organised story time sessions for kids online, releasing home learning literacy resources for parents and even organising livestreams on Facebook to share mental health tips.
  • Many libraries across the country are making ebooks and audiobooks available even for people who aren’t already members. Sign up for your library online and head to the Borrowbox app to scour through thousands of titles.

  • Big Issue Changemaker David Duke and his Street Soccer Scotland crew are lightening the mood by encouraging people to share themselves doing keepy-uppies with a toilet roll. It’s good exercise and judging by the efforts so far, it’s an ample replacement for the lack of live of sport.