Express & Star

Coronavirus: social media users club together to help ill and elderly

Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags have been formed to encourage people to offer or ask for help.

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Thoughtful Brits have taken to social media to offer help to vulnerable neighbours during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Offers of help poured in on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Reddit amid fears for the frail and elderly, who are at greatest risk of serious illness as a result of the virus.

Catherine Mayer, co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party, posted on Twitter urging fellow users to volunteer or ask for support by using the hashtag #HowCanIHelp.

“All of us rely on others for help and the coming weeks will see carers and support networks impacted by coronavirus,” she said.

“Use #HowCanIHelp to ask or offer practical assistance.”

Among those to volunteer their time was Kimberley Scott, 28, who posted an offer on her local area’s Facebook page.

She told the PA news agency: “I have a disabled vulnerable mum and I thought to myself, what about all the people that don’t have family or friends that can go and get their food or medication?

“I would hate to think someone is risking their life to nip to the shop or go pick up their tablets and I am sat at home with the time and health to help them.”

She explained that she had since seen more offers to help people than people asking for help themselves.

She said: “I think if we all work together then our loved ones will be safer and protected.”

Support groups have formed on Facebook, with users offering to help vulnerable people access food or run errands.

In one such group, users shared a printable postcard which could be dropped in to neighbours’ letterboxes, with offers to pick up shopping, post mail or even just join them for a “friendly phone call”.

The card was created by lecturer and copywriter Becky Wass from Falmouth, who told Cornwall Live: “If just one person feels less lonely or isolated when faced with this pandemic, then I’ll feel better about it.

“Coronavirus is scary.

“Let’s make kindness go viral.”

As well as individuals taking action under their own steam, organisations including Nextdoor UK are encouraging people to look out for those close to them.

The website’s advice includes using local online groups and reaching out to vulnerable neighbours.

Age UK issued guidance on helping the elderly during the coronavirus outbreak, saying: “If you know an older person who is concerned about leaving the house because of Covid-19, make sure you stay in touch over the phone, see if they need any help shopping, and encourage them to stay active in the house.”

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