Published 7th April 2020

Look beyond the #Covidiots – Look for the helpers

It’s hard to find anything good to say about a pandemic that is killing thousands of people daily. But when we look to community we see hope in a dark time. It reminds me of Fred Rogers’ famous advice to look for the helpers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” Rogers said, “my Mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

One of those helpers is Toni. Every day Toni puts a few boxes of best before food and flowers at the end of her path. She posts on Facebook and asks people to take what they need. As I see what Toni is doing I ask myself, why do people only take one loaf of bread? Why did the woman with a small child only take 2 satsumas?

It’s simple. At times like these our community shines. And it shines in a way that is not professionalised but organised. Now is the time for individuals who identify as neighbours. This virus will kill but out of it will grow a vaccine that can save so many others. Knitting people together to save them from poverty, oppression and abuse. Neighbour helping neighbours.

Together they will do more than the mass scale thousands who sign up to support a national call and then post about it on Instagram. And for a short while, as organiser, I feel that our divided Brexit days are behind us, and our time is now! Our time to look after one another.

At times like these our community shines and it shines in a way that is not professionalised but organised
Nicola Wallace-Dean - Community Organiser, Stockport

On Sunday, after a weekend of glorious sunshine the hashtag #covidiot was trending along with pictures of reckless people sunbathing in parks. They are fools, I know, and at no point do I condone their behaviour; but as with anything life isn’t that simple. What followed destroyed every bit of good that Toni and everyone like her are doing. People re-post pictures of people out and about, flouting the advice of government, and these people anger me. Both the flouters and the commentators. Because when Joanne* posts that she is a scientist and condemns Chantelle* for disobeying the rules, it is clear that Joanne spends a lot of time looking down a telescope and not a lot of time looking at society.

People like Joanne, sit in their harmonious homes with ensuite bathrooms, well stocked freezer, home delivery shopping and Netflix. Life is a bit tedious, but they can work, have money and even get time to load and unload the dishwasher a few times more than normal. Joanne is a hero.

Chantelle, on the other hand, she is an idiot; a #covidiot. She leaves her home to put £5 on the gas meter. She touches stuff, standing in a queue not quite 2 meters apart from others. She is spreading the virus. Unfortunately, though, Chantelle doesn’t have broadband at home, so does not have Netflix and also it means she can’t shop online but that doesn’t matter because she doesn’t have the money to bulk buy anyway. When she leaves the house, she does take longer than normal, sits on a bench and has a cigarette. It’s sanity away from an overcrowded and noisy home. It’s irresponsible but it’s understandable.

So in a time when fear engulfs us, look for the helpers and before you spread news make sure you aren’t an idiot – Latin idiota ‘ignorant person’. Stay home and keep your opinions with you. Then and only then, we might find some light from this.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.


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