This post is not the type of post I normally write. I started writing it a week ago, when Covid-19 was wreaking havoc in Italy. Now the whole of the UK is in lock down too. Phrases such as “self isolating” and “social distancing” are heard daily. Panic buying is gripping the country and creating scarcities of…toilet rolls and pasta, among other strangely random items. This is a very real threat to everyone’s health but, managed correctly and sensibly, the threat can be minimised.
As humorous as this may seem, and I hope these panic buyers are left with their stockpiles after this is all over, we are a country in genuine crisis and we need to think of other people’s needs too.
I was in the ambulance service during the avian flu crisis around 2007. There was similar panic in some areas, but nowhere near the scale we are seeing now.
Last night Britain applauded the NHS workers. People stood on their doorsteps up and down the country clapping. Some cities lit up blue in support too. This morning there are reports of someone who died “because paramedics left her at home”. Paramedics who have never seen anything like this before but are expected to know what to do. Paramedics who are out there ill equipped with protective wear, doing their best in an unknown situation.
Now is not time for sensationalism. Its a time to pull together, to recognise the work people are doing to try to keep us safe. Not a time for negativity and blame.
It seems to be a time when people’s true colours are starting to show: people refusing to stay at home to contain the virus spread, shops and other unscrupulous people trying to charge extreme prices for essential items like toilet rolls and bottles of hand gel. Peopled stockpiling those items unnecessarily to the extent that there are no stocks available for other people who actually need them. Today I heard of youths going round coughing and spitting on people, threatening to ‘give them the virus’!
But more and more, people are rising above this. Every day there are stories of how people and companies are showing support, stories of acts of kindness.
I recently spoke with a bus driver friend who told me of a wheelchair user struggling to get on their bus. Someone helped push the wheelchair on the bus then, rather than get on the bus as a passenger, they walked away. It transpired that the wheelchair user didn’t actually know them, a random stranger, not afraid to help or scared to touch the wheelchair lest they contracted Covid-19.
Another friend saw an elderly person fall while trying to walk up a steep incline near some houses. They were helped by three random strangers who crossed a main road to assist. Yes, we need to exercise caution, but we also need to practice common sense. At a time when social distancing and caution are very important, concern, care and kindness are also equally important.
Ambulance crews, nurses, doctors and all the support staff are working hard to cope with the Covid-19 outbreak. No-one knows how long the crisis will last, no-one knows how long it will be before a vaccine is discovered. Still these people go to work, knowing they will have a busy day ahead. But it’s not just about them. The country still needs to keep going – bus drivers to take people to work, store staff who put up with still rude and selfish shoppers, lorry drivers who tirelessly keep supermarkets stocked, Police officers, Fire crews….right down to the people who keep the streets clean. All deserve some kind of thanks for keeping the country going. Some coffee and fast food retailers were offering items free to emergency workers, but that ended when they were forced to close.
Most of you readers will know much of this already, but how many of us show kindness to these people ourselves? How many of us keep an eye on our elderly neighbours or offer to do shopping for others when we’re doing our own? How many of us say “thank you” to the bus drivers, say nice things to the supermarket staff, or give a thumbs up to the emergency workers? Now, more than ever, we need to stay positive. Boris Johnston was recently likened to Winston Churchill, and I suppose the Second World War was probably the last time the whole world saw times similar to these. We are all in this together, whether we like that idea or not. Kindness is free, and it actually feels good. If we all act together it will make this crisis a whole lot more bearable.
Please listen to the experts – Stay at home whenever possible! Wash your hands as often as you can. Social distancing and all the other rules were devised for everyone’s safety. To defy them unnecessarily is selfish and also puts yourself at risk.
During times like these we tend to see peoples’ true colours coming through. Are yours something you will be proud of when it’s all, finally, over?