Blog: Acts of kindness during the pandemic
Published: 22 May 2020
As Mental Health Awareness Week ends, we asked the team here at WCMT to share their own lockdown experiences of 'kindness' - which is the theme of the week.
Hannah Cross (Executive Assistant)
My village had big plans to celebrate VE day, with an itinerary published in the local parish magazine months in advance. Due to lockdown, plans had to be changed. Instead we set up a ‘show and tell’ where the whole village displayed memorabilia they had from WWII. Many people dressed up in 1940s/50s outfits and recalled memories from the time which their parents and grandparents had shared with them. We had a small socially-distanced tea party in our street, and one of the children from the village graced each road with a little tune on her clarinet. Many people in our village fall into the vulnerable category and live alone, so this was the perfect opportunity for us to pull together as a community and share our stories safely on this important day of celebration.
Chris Mann (Development Director)
A friend runs a local adventure playground which has transformed into a food growing and distributing hub, supporting children and families across local housing estates. I’ve been occasionally volunteering for them, giving strategy and fundraising advice. One of the bids I helped identify and write secured them a large grant which makes them financially stable for the next three years and better able to respond to the increased demand during the pandemic. Last week, I had a knock at the door and found a bag of freshly grown vegetables and a thank-you note from the children who are using the adventure playground.
Naomi French (Research and Engagement Manager)
Ever since the UK went into lockdown, some good friends of mine have spent hours of their time each week preparing a virtual quiz. Every Friday night, a group of about 50 of us join together online for an evening of fun, a chance to connect with friends – old and new – and to momentarily forget worries or concerns that have come with the pandemic. At a time when lots of events and special occasions have been cancelled, this simple act of kindness has been a lifeline in providing something to look forward to each week.
Kati-Maria Ikola (Data Manager)
At the beginning of this month, my partner’s grandmother, who lives in a care home in Hong Kong, turned 100. A birthday party had been planned and many relatives who live abroad, including my partner and his family, were planning to go to Hong Kong to celebrate with her. However, due to the pandemic, no one could travel. So instead, my partner’s cousin arranged for several of us to record a video clip of us singing the Cantonese birthday song (even if we can't speak Cantonese) and then collated all the clips into a video to give to Grandma.
On the day, the kind staff at the care home helped organise a safe birthday celebration, involving all the residents. My partner’s aunt and uncle were able to attend the celebration and show Grandma the video and messages, as well as organise a Skype call with family who couldn’t be there in person. The celebration was enjoyed by Grandma, the residents and staff alike. My partner’s aunt shared a video of the celebration and a thank-you message from Grandma, which in turn cheered us up. So a lot of different people and small acts of kindness came together and lifted the spirits of many.
Jonathan Lorie (Communications Director)
When the lockdown started, our next door neighbours formed a self-help group for the street. For weeks they've been helping the older people with shopping and front-door calls. It's been lovely to see community returning to a typical London neighbourhood.
Julia Weston (Chief Executive)
Our downstairs neighbours, who we knew a little before lockdown but not well at all, have alerted us each time they have managed to secure an online supermarket delivery slot so that we can add items to their order. As a result, we have got to know them much more during lockdown (mostly via email and two doorstep encounters) and regularly exchange surplus food now, including delicious baked goodies. Although the latter only goes one way, as I'm a hopeless baker. They get veg in return - not the best trade off, I know.
Bryan Hamilton (Finance Assistant)
My mum has a spinal injury in her lower back and arthritis in her knees. Seeing that her front lawn was becoming overgrown, her neighbour cut the grass. He then cut the grass in the back garden too. Now that lockdown restrictions have been eased a little, I've taken on gardening duties again.
On a wider, community level, my local council and local branch of MIND have set up a bereavement line for people who have lost loved ones to Covid 19. They have also set up a befriending and care call service with the charity Tapestry, to provide elderly people in particular with calls to check on their health and wellbeing and to ensure they have all they need. It's heartening to know that the more vulnerable members of the community, who have been advised to self-isolate, are receiving help.