As a result of this
challenging time, amazing stories have come to light,
showing not only how resilient people are, but how they have
used this time to help others; whether thatís delivering
supplies to a family member or vulnerable neighbour or
joining an ever-growing army of volunteers to work in the
Here weíre sharing stories
from different people about how theyíve been using this time
to make a positive difference - whether thatís for
themselves or others.
1) Dr Varuni Wimalasiri,
Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, the Bournemouth
University Business School:
Iíve been volunteering and
helping to coordinate volunteer activities in the local
COVID-19 support effort to assist people in my local area in
As part of my research
activities before the lockdown, I had been working very
closely with a city council and various charities in Devon
to assist in refugee resettlement. I was therefore able to
access my network immediately to provide for the emerging
needs of COVID-19 in my community.
Iíve become part of a
volunteering coordinating team of six people in my local
area; we have over 100 volunteers and 5,000 residents. Over
the last few weeks weíve been able to support those who are
most vulnerable in our community and Iíve also used my
research findings from working with vulnerable groups to
help me develop a website dedicated to supporting the
wellbeing of volunteers as they go about helping others.
Recently, our biggest topic of
volunteer discussion has been about how we get free food to
people who are most affected by the economic downturn
created by COVID-19. Weíre sourcing all our contacts and
working with local food charities and networks in other
areas to address this. Weíre also making sure weíre
supporting local businesses in our activities Ė who have
been amazing and offered us many services and products for
free to help the effort, even though this is a difficult
time for them as well.
Iíve been heartened to see the
sheer effort that is going in in my community to help those
who are lonely, hungry or unwell. People are going the extra
mile to put a poster up, to find ways to cook a meal for a
neighbour, and ensure people are well and in good spirits.
Iíve seen a tremendous amount of compassion and regard for
each other and I really hope this continues well after the
2) Amy Walker, Placement Development Advisor:
live in Hastings Old Town, a really beautiful place with, it
turns out, a lot of older residents who are shielding from
Covid-19. I've always worked remotely for BU, so once the
students on placement seemed more stable, I felt I could
give more time to the community as I didn't have to adjust
to working from home.
In early March, Harry, 11, and I went door to door (with
gloves on) putting postcards through the doors of our
neighbouring three streets, inviting them to join a WhatsApp
group so we could look out for each other, as a lockdown
We went from knowing six neighbouring families, (and only
knowing two of those beyond hello), to being part of a
lively group of 34 households. Phil is over 70 and records a
song on his ukelele that he posts in the group each morning.
Liz is shielding alone with her dog, and when she posted a
picture of her homemade bra mask, the group provided her
with more reliable, if less exciting, options. Harry has
walked Angela's ancient pugs for her when she hurt her leg,
Brendan from the B&B gave my husband some excellent homemade
marmalade for his birthday, and, thanks to posted photos and
shared banter, we now all feel more part of the community.
On VE day we had socially distanced drinks in our street, I
suggested we wore red, white, blue or 1940s dress. A friend
who had lost her father to Covid-19 two weeks earlier said
it made her feel normal again. We had a laugh but we didn't
conga. Chris's mum Stella, who is shielding, looked out over
us from her room. Alan, 86, told us about being 12 on VE day
and having to move out of his house in Wapping with his
sisters when it was bombed.
Since the lockdown, Iíve volunteered through the GoodSAM app
and also joined HEART, a local voluntary group in Hastings.
I also run Media Parents, a jobsite for flexible work in TV.
TV freelancers are under threat at the moment so I started
running online events and CV masterclasses as a support
mechanism, which I've now also done for ScreenSkills and
ITV. I think it's important for the TV community to visibly
stick together at this point to stop talent leaving, so we
are lucky that this is easy to do online, covering the whole
of the UK.
Whilst I feel I've worked harder than ever to support
students through uncertain times, the MHFA (Mental Health
First Aid) training I had from BU last year has really
helped me to support other people - students, people in TV
and in our local community. Because Hastings is an outlying
community it's likely we will have the disease in our
community for longer, and until there is a vaccine, or a
cure, the threat to our older, shielding residents will be
as deadly as ever. Iím really grateful for our strong
community spirit, and the positives that this disease has
brought, from local communities, to industries, to working
environments. And Harry said it felt good to help our