How can communities, neighbourhoods, streets and apartment blocks help each other in the time of epidemics?
In difficult situations, such as the current coronavirus epidemic, community and neighbourhood help is the key. It can save lives.
Around 20 years ago Chicago was hit by a heatwave. They were many casualties throughout the city, but more in those neighbourhoods which were not as well connected. For similar reasons, we would like to encourage communities to help each other in the time of this coronavirus epidemic. Under the slogan “The Power of Community” we have gathered some examples of community help.
1. (Local) community groups for mutual assistance on social media
Places, neighbourhoods and streets around the world are establishing groups on social communication networks (Facebook, Viber, etc.) for mutual assistance. On these sites, people can offer or look for help and share information. Solidarity and community spirit are strengthened by a faster flow of local information and establishing local contact between those who offer help and those in search for it.
Examples from Canada: https://tinyurl.com/txkzobo
Examples from United Kingdoms: https://tinyurl.com/uot2g9g
2. Rainbow window gallery 🌈
Windows and balconies in Italy, Spain, the US and elsewhere are filling up with rainbow paintings and other positive motives.
For children and adults, this is a great way to spend some creative time together while the paintings bring hope and lower the feeling of isolation for the neighbours and people passing by.
Article about rainbow windows in the US: https://tinyurl.com/tlpdff8
3. Protecting tenants from rent arrears evictions 🏘
There is a lot of talk about the catastrophic economic effects of the coronavirus and housing systems fall under that as well. So far, the talk was mostly about how to protect those that will be unable to pay their credits, but the tenants are in no better place. They can lose a roof over their heads.
It is a problem too big to be solved by the communities alone. Some countries and cities are already discussing how to put-off or end tenants’ evictions. For public housing funds, this might not be a hard task but protection is needed also for those that rent in private buildings, which can be connected to the decree for the payment of credits by the owners.
Country scale example (UK): https://tinyurl.com/v6ur4ee
City scale example (Lewisham, UK): https://tinyurl.com/wuleyyr
4. Communities enable the continued existence of local small businesses and craftsmen in the time of the virus 💰
1️⃣ A non-profit platform has been recently developed in Berlin where people can purchase coupons from providers, which they can use in the following months. With that, they can support small bars, restaurants, seamstresses etc… This will help smaller businesses and craftsmen, whose survival is threatened by these recent, and unforeseen, forced closures.
On their website, they wrote: “The point is that together we can save our favourite places from bankruptcy by providing them with the money that we will be spending with them anyway over the next few months.”
Berlin platform (in German): https://helfen.berlin/#about
2️⃣ Soccer club Borussia from Dortmund invited their fans to an action called Digital Matchday with which they have picked and financially supported 86 bars and restaurants on the way to their stadium. They collected 75.000 euros which will enable them to welcome their fans with open doors in the time of a live match.
Link (in German): https://www.bvb.de/…/BVB-Fans-sammeln-an-digitalem-Spieltag…
5. Socializing at a distance for the elderly 📞💻
1️⃣ A group of volunteers from the Youth Center Velenje have responded to current conditions by creating several activities including socializing at a distance for elderly people.
The recommended restrictions of movements are connected to the greater loneliness of older citizens. They have decided to tackle this problem by offering free-of-charge social phone calls for the elderly. They can sign up for a call in the morning hours and receive a call back later by one of the volunteers who chats with them about everyday life.
Example (in Slovene): https://www.facebook.com/…/a.16886286747…/2594470080797416/…
2️⃣ Socializing at a distance is now also possible for the residents of The Retirement Home Nova Gorica, where they enabled them to connect with their family by video. In these times when visits are not allowed, two laptops have been made available for residents to use for chatting with their loved ones.
Example (in Slovene): https://www.facebook.com/luka.manojlovic/posts/10158241881307905
6. How to let your neighbours know that you need help or if you are available to offer it
1️⃣ In some apartment buildings, all residents received a card in their mailbox with the following note: “If at any point in the next weeks or months you find that you have to self-isolate and need someone to help in some way, eg. collect groceries, speak on the phone, collect a prescription, I’m here to help.” Along with the note were the contact details of the person offering help. 🗒
2️⃣ Residents of the cities around the world have also found innovative ways to let their neighbours know if they need help. In North Yorkshire (UK) they have established a “neighbourhood traffic light”, where people who are OK, post green papers on the window, and those who need help post red ones.
3️⃣ Windows have also become a media for children animation. Residents of some cities started putting stuffed bears on their windows, which children and their parents search for in the game called “a Bear Hunt”.
7. Socializing with our neighbours at a distance
The weekends are always a good time to hang out with your neighbours. Regarding the current conditions, some imagination is necessary:
1️⃣ Organize a balcony concert to lift spirits.
2️⃣ Join one of the online exercises (some are available live) or organize one yourself.
3️⃣ Organize neighbourhood bingo games from windows, balconies and backyards.
4️⃣ Find an empty side of the building for a projector and have a movie night.