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How people power is saving the nation

Whether it’s raising cash for charity or going out of their way to help neighbours have fun under lockdown, helping hands continue to reach across the country.

Belper Moo art by Emily Garces

More than a month (and several million sourdough loaves) into the Covid-19 lockdown, problems remain. The impact of isolation is setting in for many and still frontline NHS workers wonder when they’ll receive the protective equipment they so desperately need. The effects are far-reaching. Research by The Childhood Trust found that nearly half of London child poverty charities could be forced to close as a result of the coronavirus shutdown meaning vital services could be lost before the summer, leaving disadvantaged young people without vital support. The Trust will soon campaign to protect these charities with matched fundraising but the months ahead are uncertain.

However that isn’t dampening the determined spirit of good Samaritans across the UK.  Here are just a few.

  • In the Derbyshire town of Belper, residents emerge from their houses at 6.30pm each evening for a communal chorus of moos. The new custom was thought up by local Jasper Ward, who told the BBC: “The crazy people of this town have taken to it like cows to grass.” The cattle cries from hundreds of people – some using musical instruments or, in some cases, piping to project their voices – has been boosting morale during the Covid-19 lockdown. Supermarkets make tannoy announcements for the Belper Moo every evening and the ritual has even inspired some local art. (One of the artists behind this, Emily Garcés, is livestreaming free art classes at 5pm on weekdays!)

  • Neighbours in Hull held a street party complete with a DJ and singer – made possible by their walled gardens. After a local Facebook group proposed the idea in response to concerns for isolated elderly people in the area, the Southcoates Avenue residents were paid a visit by local police during the party. It was allowed to continue as everyone was sticking to social distancing rules. “I think one of the favourites was I Want to Break Free,” primary school teacher and part-time-DJ Chris Marshall told Sky News.
  • Jay Flynn in Lancashire has raised more than £132,000 for the NHS through a weekly virtual pub quiz. The former pub landlord-turned-quizmaster takes to YouTube every Thursday – incorporating a break to observe #ClapForNHS – with a new set of questions for his quickly growing audience. He has reached as many as 150,000 players at one time, who submit their scores via social media and are encouraged to make a donation to the NHS through Flynn’s online fundraiser or to a charity of their choice.
  • Social enterprise Recycles Ilford has launched a campaign to raise cash to get bikes to NHS workers. They know that during this crisis it’s vital that key workers can travel safely, and where possible that means avoiding packed tubes or buses. They’re on their way to a target of £2,000 raised so they can refurbish second-hand bikes to gift.

  • Edinburgh woman Olivia Strong launched a social media fundraising campaign which has raised more than £5 million for the NHS in just a few weeks. Run For Heroes encourages people to use their daily exercise to run or walk 5km and donate £5 to the cause before nominating another five people – being sure to post a picture to Instagram to raise awareness. More than 50,000 people got involved in the project to raise cash for NHS Charities Together and helped the campaign smash its initial target of £5,000.
  • Now more than ever the little things can turn someone’s day around. Anti-poverty group Toiletries Amnesty have been able to give away more than 15,000 lip glosses to people who can’t afford them in more than 50 places across the UK after health and beauty brand Proto-Col made a huge donation. Some of the glosses went to the Prince of Wales Hospice in Pontefract, which meant staff could “provide even more for patients and their families when they are feeling low and need a pick-me-up”.
  • Luminate Scotland is running an online social dance club for LGBTQ “elders and allies” starting May 10 at 2pm. The in-person events were started in Melbourne, Australia, as a way to celebrate a generation discriminated against for years and who fear having to ‘return to the closet’ as they get older. Now Luminate are taking the operation online to make sure everyone still has the chance to meet new people and share stories, even under lockdown.

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