As coronavirus cases in the UK spiral and panic buying leaves many supermarket shelves empty, compassion and community spirit are flourishing.
In Brighton – once the epicentre of the outbreak in Britain – ordinary people are coming together to help the vulnerable and those who are self-isolating.
If a single mother cannot leave the house and is running low on food, or if an elderly person needs medication, they can contact the Brighton Covid-19 Mutual Aid group.
They will be connected with someone who can help with food shopping, picking up prescriptions, or even just taking a dog for a walk.
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) March 14, 2020
“It can be incredibly isolating to be in your house for weeks,” said Andrea Brock, who came up with the idea with friend Daniel Therkelsen.
“We are used to this idea that asking for help is a bad thing and that is not something we are encouraged to do.
“So we are setting up this group so people can ask for help and they can ask for support.
“The fact that this works shows that people want to help each other.”
Dr Brock, a lecturer at the University of Sussex, started the Facebook group on Friday afternoon, and in less than 24 hours it had more than 630 members and the initiative was well under way.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Dr Brock said: “We had a couple of cases already where people need something and other people have joined in.
“I think it’s a good example that shows that we can’t rely on government in times of crisis, we need to look after each other and have solidarity with each other, particularly with those who are most vulnerable.
“I think this is just one solution, one way of bringing people together of many. I would encourage everyone to get involved.”
Members of the group are printing posters and flyers to be distributed in their neighbourhoods encouraging those who need help to not be afraid to reach out.
Dr Brock, 33, who lives in Preston Circus, said the posters say things like “Hi I live here, if you are self-isolating, if you need help with anything I am really happy to support you”.
She added: “We are not doctors, we can’t treat people with coronavirus, obviously.
“But there is a lot of things we can do as people who live here and people who are connected to others in this community and in times like this we need more solidarity and mutual aid to help each other out.”
The Facebook group is at facebook.com/groups/491658741529273