We have been overwhelmed and delighted (but not surprised) by the way the people of the UK generally and Bristol specifically have responded to the Coronavirus pandemic.
There have been a huge number of amazing examples of people and organisations joining forces, volunteering for causes, and putting aside their own problems so that they can help others. Below is some of the positive news and good stories we have heard so far, and we know there are many more – feel free to share yours in the comments!
Our Wonderful NHS
750,000 Volunteers for the NHS: on the 25th March the NHS launched an appeal for 250,000 volunteers to help provide support services. In 12 hours they had 170,000 applications, in 24 hours they had 500,000. 4 days later they paused recruitment while processing the 750,000 applications they had received so far.
We Are Bristol: CanDoBristol – the volunteer platform that Bristol City Council uses to gather local volunteers – has topped 5000 members after recruiting over 2000 volunteers within 10 days. The council have also launched a We Are Bristol helpline specifically for the vulnerable, so please pass on the number to anyone who may need it – 0117 352 3011.
Clap For Our Carers: the last two Thursday evenings, thousands of people across the country have gone outside their front doors or hung out their windows to clap for the NHS. Fireworks were set off, fireworks and you could hear the sound of clapping, whooping and cheering ringing round the streets of Bristol and well into the countryside.
Thanks A Million: A website has been set as an ongoing show of appreciation – you can add a heart to the map on Thanks A Million and it also includes a list of all the companies offering freebies or discounts to NHS workers.
Food For All
Redirecting the Supply: There is thousands of tonnes of surplus food in the system, due partly to a lot of the hospitality sector shutting down. Fareshare South West are getting that surplus food to those who need it most, and you can support their efforts here.
Feeding the Vulnerable: Bristol Food Union is an informal collective of restaurants, food businesses and community organisations that have come together to ensure that the city of Bristol stays fed during the Covid-19 crisis. Over the past 10 days they have created 6 secure production kitchens in closed restaurants around the city, are helping support Caring in Bristol to feed 600 homeless citizens, and are providing meals for the vulnerable in the Chew Valley area. They are also delivering weekly food supplies to 100 vulnerable adults who have recently left the foster care system, and are working to provide a hot meal every day to hospital workers at Southmead. It’s amazing that all of these operations have been mobilised in such a short time, and you can support them here.
Cheers Drive: Caring in Bristol have launched their biggest ever campaign, aiming to feed 600 homeless people all day, every day, for as long as they can. Working with Josh Eggleton (Bristol Food Union co-founder and chef patron of the Pony and Trap), they are working to deliver meal parcels including a freshly cooked hot meal, and a packed breakfast and lunch to those that need it most. You can donate to their campaign and help provide these meals here.
Suspended Community Breakfast: We have been thinking hard about ways we can contribute too, and will be holding a Community Breakfast once this is all over. Tickets are available on our Fundsurfer page, and 100% of the money raised will go to supporting Caring in Bristol’s Cheers Drive campaign.
Free Meals for Children: The Government announced a voucher scheme to replace the free school meals many families reply on, and have confirmed this will be extended over the Easter holidays. Bristol Rovers have been delivering free school meals to students using their minibus and 91 Ways partner organisation Square Food Foundation have also stepped in to help, repurposing their kitchen. Volunteers like our friend and cook Seb are making healthy meals for local children and families, especially those that would normally rely on free school meals. You can find out more and donate here.
We Are Bristol
Empty Streets Show We’re Working Together: Bristol City Council have shared this video showing the usually bustling city streets all but deserted. While it would normally feel a little unsettling to see the busiest areas of the city so empty, now it is a reassuring visual symbol of how many people are staying indoors and keeping each other safe.
Still Supporting Local: Bristol is known for its independent spirit and many people are doing all they can to continue supporting local businesses. Visit websites like The Lockdown Economy, order through independent platform Good Sixty, or check this map of Bristol independents to see who is still operating.
Doing What They Can: Businesses across the world have been working out how to use their existing skills and equipment to help the relief efforts and Bristol is no exception. From small local businesses making face masks to large companies producing thousands of ventilators, many people are rushing to work out what they can do. If you’re a business that wants to help, you can let the government know here.
Access to Books for All: The libraries may have closed but there are many ways you can access millions of audiobooks and ebooks completely free, like using BorrowBox. If you aren’t already a library member you can sign up to join here, then email your temporary number to Bristol.firstname.lastname@example.org and they will give you access to the electronic resources. Keep an eye on the Bristol libraries twitter for useful links and information about livestream storytime, too!
Where There Is Darkness, There Is Light
Thinking of You: Bookblock are raising money for the NHS through Positive Post – there are lots of beautiful designs to choose from, and they will send the postcard on your behalf – all you need to do is pay P&P, and make an optional donation to the NHS. We love this beautiful design from local illustrator Jasmine Hortop.
Some Good News: Actor, director and general funny guy John Krasinski has launched a new ‘news channel’, directly from his house. The first and second episodes are already up and we can’t wait for more!
Some More Good News: Next time you need a dose of good news, head to KarunaVirus, a website that aims to bring together stories of compassion and kindness, featuring thousands of wonderful stories of, as they call it: “everyday people choosing love over fear”.
The Goats Have Taken Over: A couple of weeks ago, some penguins were allowed to roam around a closed aquarium. Well, not the mountain goats have decided it’s their turn and taken over Llandudno in North Wales. With no people around to stop them the goats have been spotted all over the town, congregating in the streets, sleeping in the churchyard, and eating plenty of garden bushes!
We hope that your spirits feel lifted after reading about just a tiny amount of the wonderful things people are doing to support and help each other through this time. We are thinking of you all and wishing you the best.