Feeling helpless and anxious? It’s understandable. Here are positive ways you can help your local community, needy charities and vulnerable loved ones right now

It’s a daunting and confusing time for everyone. But of course times like these can bring out the positive in people too. This morning saw Twitter users offering support to people self-isolating in their communities, by facilitating grocery deliveries to their door (see more below). At a time when lots of us can feel quite helpless, there are steps you can take to help reduce the impact this virus will have on our way of life. Remember to heed all HSE warnings and to rely only on official, authentic information from reliable sources. Rather than obsess over the news and unnecessarily stockpile, here are some nice, helpful and productive steps you can take to make the world feel a little less scary.

Check in with your community

Led by Helen O’Rahilly on Twitter, people around the country have been offering to lend their support to people who are in self-isolation. Users have been volunteering both time to help the vulnerable or offering to deliver necessary supplies to help look after those in need at this difficult time. So far on Twitter we have seen offers of support in communities in Dublin, Roscommon, Limerick, Waterford, Meath and beyond. Check hashtags such as #selfisolationhelp or #selfisolationhelp followed by name of the local area.

Instigator Helen also reminds people to keep themselves and others safe, and to ensure someone knows their location, just in case.  

Support the Irish Cancer Society

Daffodil Day was to take place on 27 March. It is almost a taken-for-granted part of Irish life, as the day really has unrivalled awareness and support amongst the Irish community. The news that this year’s day has been cancelled is devastating for the charity, as the fundraiser is essential to ensure services like night nurses and financial support for families of children with cancer. You can donate €4 now by texting CANCER to 50300. If you are in a position to make a larger donation, you can do so here.

Support Cystic Fibrosis Ireland

Similarly, Cystic Fibrosis Ireland relies on its 65 Roses street collection campaign to raise much needed funds. Unfortunately the charity has had to make the difficult decision to cancel the street collection, due to take place on 10 April. Ireland has the highest incidence of cystic fibrosis in the world, and as it is a respiratory disease, this is a hugely worrying time for patients and their families. You can support the charity by texting 65 Roses to 50300 if you would like to donate €2.

Remember the homelessness crisis is ongoing

Housing has been a crisis situation in Ireland since before we knew anything of coronavirus. Now homelessness charities are taking steps to prepare for an outbreak. It would be impossible for vulnerable homeless people with underlying conditions that put them at risk to self-isolate in the current cramped and overcrowded conditions in hostels and emergency accommodation. For example, charities like Peter McVerry Trust and Focus Ireland are busy identifying rooms they can make available to people who will need to self-isolate down the line. They are also concerned with keeping their current services running as normal. Donate to Peter McVerry Trust here and to Focus Ireland here.

Support local as much as you can

Shops, restaurants, hotels, bars and much more are in a hugely worrying situation. Customers are understandably scared to venture out, and restaurants and hotels are experiencing dramatic, unprecedented cancellations. Even if this country doesn’t go into lock down, already, people’s livelihoods are very much at risk. 

Think of ways you can support your favourite local businesses responsibly. Pay contactless when you can, keep your hands clean and try to continue life as normal where possible. If that means still buying your lunch from the local café, go for it. We’re sure there are lots of local business owners who miss their regulars right now. 

For example, see if your favourite restaurant offers a delivery service and try to support local Irish designers and makers if you are shopping for gifts (Mother’s Day is still around the corner after all). Event organisers have postponed events until the summer or autumn, so consider booking a staycation for later in the year at an Irish hotel, that may be experiencing a worrying amount of panicked cancellations right now. Hopefully, the situation will look a lot more hopeful then.

As long as you or your loved ones are not vulnerable, you can still venture out in public and stay the recommended arm’s length distance away from others . Learn nore about social distancing here. The Government has been really clear about the risk of imposing a lockdown prematurely, and the risk of contracting coronavirus in the community is still considered low.

Shop in moderation and resist temptation to stockpile unnecessarily

Yes, some shop shelves are empty, and anti-bacterial hand gel is hard to find. For the moment, representatives for supermarkets are saying that supply chains are operating as normal, so don’t contribute to potential shortages by panic-buying. Yes it is tempting to stockpile pasta and toilet roll, but think about small Irish businesses who may be stressed right now, and consider including some Irish-made food products in your weekly shop going forward. We need to ensure our brilliant food producers are still able to create their wonderful products, whether that’s cheese, smoked salmon or a delicious local sourdough. The pasta will keep, after all.

Do not take unnecessary risks and heed all official restrictions

It might seem obvious, but things like restrictions on visitors to nursing homes and hospitals should be obeyed. There is something in us Irish that makes us think, ‘sure five minutes won’t hurt’, or ‘it won’t happen to us’, but it really isn’t responsible to put others at risk because of our own carelessness or convenience.

Stay positive and connected

Vulnerable members of your family are no doubt feeling worried right now. Stay in contact with your loved ones, remember to laugh and do what you can to look after those around you, physically and mentally. The prospect of isolation is very daunting, so do what you can to keep others’ spirits up. Perhaps now is the time to teach older relations how to use Facetime or shop online for example. If you have heartwarming books or old copies of magazines you love, pass them on. Direct worried neighbours and loved ones to supports that can help. In times like these, we need to support each other, even from afar.