Unexpected ways of strengthening community contact

Village response to supporting elderly or vulnerable people

Village response to supporting elderly or vulnerable people

Our village’s ladies social group (on Whats app) discussed soon after lockdown, what could we do for local residents. It was agreed that we could together, do some practical tasks such as shopping, dog walking or phone calls to help combat isolation. One person volunteered to advertise their home phone number, a “flyer” was produced that offered all kinds of practical and emotional help to residents and to ring the main volunteer’s number, who would then arrange others to undertake support tasks. The leaflet was distributed to every household in the village by a number of volunteers.

Illustration by Nextdoor

Leaflet given out to every household. A number of people requested help with shopping for essential items and were allocated a volunteer.

It was quick and easy to do. Sharing tasks meant no one person was trying to do everything. People felt support was there (even if they didn’t need it).
It linked to Nextdoor ap which was used throughout UK.

Story shared by Cath Howard, United Kingdom.

For more info please contact at cath.papcastle@gmail.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Young boy’s 6th birthday

Young boy’s 6th birthday

It was a 6 year old boy’s birthday and he could obviously not invite his friends to a birthday party. They stay in a suburb where people stay behind high walls to protect them against crime and people do not really socialise. In an effort to make something of the birthday his mother phoned the people in her street to ask if they would participate in making his birthday special by putting a little present for his birthday at their gate the next morning. Everyone was lockdown so they could not buy special presents.

Picture from Harrogate Mumbler

On his birthday the mother took the boy for a drive in the street and stopped at each gate where a little present was placed. Much to their surprise almost everyone in the street participated and the boy was delighted by all the surprise presents. The little boy was very happy with his surprise birthday and that was the beginning of people in the street talking to each other.

People need a little stimulation to reach out to others. The difficult situation lead the mother to reach out to neighbours and the neighbours were keen and willing to participate. Most people are keen to experience a sense of community.

Story shared by Maretha Visser, South Africa

More info please contact: maretha.visser@up.ac.za

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Covid nurses wear lapel pins with cartoon avatar

Covid nurses wear lapel pins with cartoon avatar

Patients were not able to recognize health professional wearing mask, and this had implications on caring, empathy, reducing the caring (not the curing) capacity of the health professionals. The provincial president of nurses report the problem during a newspaper interview, and an illustrator offered her ideas to solve the issue.

Now most nurses in different wards of the most important hospitals in Bologna wear the lapel pins and this help nurses doing their job.

Picture retrieved from La Repubblica

This was recognized as a good initiative by the ministry of health, nurses would like to formalize it as a good practice, providing a simple, funny way to handle a problem that may apply also in other contexts (i.e, schools, kindergartens etc.).

Story shared by Cinzia Albanesi, Italy.

More info here or contact cinzia.albanesi@gmail.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
COVID-19 Lockdown relief efforts in Makhanda/Grahamstown, South Africa (by LIV Lukhanyiso) – Food Parcels

COVID-19 Lockdown relief efforts in Makhanda/Grahamstown, South Africa (by LIV Lukhanyiso) – Food Parcels

LIV Lukhanyiso exists to provide a sustainable solution to South Africa’s growing number of orphan and vulnerable children, and building community is vital to our work. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of vulnerable families and children has grown significantly. In partnership with two local schools, LIV Lukhanyiso has run a successful project to provide food parcels weekly to 110 families in our city during lockdown. These are families with preschool children and most of these children would usually receive their main meal at school. Our aim is to continue to support these children until they can return to school.

Photo by Lara Kruiskamp, founder of LIV Lukhanyiso

Our motto is Together We Can – and it is in times like these that we can clearly see that we can do far greater things when we work together for a common purpose. We are seeing relationships being built and strengthened as sponsors, local businesses, schools and volunteers all work together and come alongside those in need. The project has also created wider exposure for our organisation’s work with vulnerable children. The food parcels provided will keep the children fed and nourished to avoid the child development challenges hunger and malnutrition cause.

We have been running fundraising initiatives for our organisation for a number of years, although successful, the response we have seen for this project has been unprecedented. We have learned that particularly individual donors prefer to give towards a cause that has immediate returns. We have also learned that beneficiaries are far more grateful than what is normally articulated. With more beneficiaries now with cell phones, this gratitude is easier to get across and it serves as a great connector between our beneficiaries and our donors.

Story shared by Nomonde Ndlangisa, South Africa

More info here or contact nomonde@liv-lukhanyiso.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Laughter in a Time of Crisis

Laughter in a Time of Crisis

The city of Juneau, in the U.S. state of Alaska, normally has a hiking hotline for those seeking volunteer-led walks in the area. But when the pandemic struck, hiking programs were suspended. The hotline might have been suspended too, but local officials had a very different idea. They decided what was needed in this challenging time were some light-hearted moments, and a chance to laugh. So they turned their hiking phone number into a laugh line. Anyone who called heard a pre-recorded joke, usually with a bad pun. Example: “What kind of music is scary for balloons?” “Pop music!”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

According to reports, the new laugh hotline was an immediate success — so much so that the line became overloaded. And suggestions for jokes have been received from across North America.

This example shows that it’s possible to turn a difficult situation into something positive and beneficial It does take creativity, and the ability and willingness to go beyond usual boundaries. It was surprising that the laugh line attracted so many people. But in a stressful time, laughter is a good coping tool, which helps people stay connected. And people need to laugh. In the words of a local parks and recreation employee, “After all, laughter is the best medicine.”

To hear a joke on the hotline, call (907) 586-0428. To submit a joke for hotline consideration, contact Parks.rec@juneau.org.

Story shared by Bill Berkowitz, United States of America.

More info here or at Bill_Berkowitz@uml.edu

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Stories of Corona everyday life

Stories of Corona everyday life

After the lockdown in the course of the Corona Pandemic almost the whole public life in our small village has come to a standstill. The official community newsletter, which is delivered to every household on Thursday, became thinner and thinner as there was hardly anything to report except the regulation of the lockdown. That is why we started the series “Stories of Corona Everyday Life”.

For 8 weeks now we have been collecting stories about the changes in everyday life during the Corona crisis, the worries and fears, but also encouraging experiences.

A few extracts: A woman reports about her concerns when her husband was ill. When news came that he was negative, she looked after her orchard and saw a stump with new shoots: “That’s what spring looks like – old things fade away, new things grow.” My 85 year old neighbour tells how she lacks contact to other people, but many have offered help. The football player misses the sociability and weekly structure given by football. He’s constantly thinking about what he would normally doing right now. And a group of women has started sewing face masks almost in piecework.

We get very personal stories, which are also an expression of the overall social situation and uncertainty. However, every story contains not only uncertainty, loss or concern, it also contains new perspectives and positive experiences that encourage others. The citizens’ stories are now eagerly awaited. Last week, the community newsletter was delivered one day later on Friday. This has caused many to go to the mailbox again and again and to ask the neighbours if they already had the newsletter.

Story shared by Luise Behringer, Germany.

More info here or contact luise.behringer@ksh-m.de

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Strengthening our sense of connection in the immediate locality

Strengthening our sense of connection in the immediate locality

The street I live on has 36 private houses set back from the road. We don’t see one another come and go, people have lived on this street for twenty or so years and only know their immediate neighbours. When the likelihood of a lock down threatened I made fliers and invited people to join a street support group. It gave everyone the chance to introduce themselves and suddenly the street became a hive of community chat and mutual support.

95% of the residents have joined a WhatsApp group and others use land line contact. We have collected shopping for one another, enjoyed sharing film footage of a fox in a garden one night, worked out whose cats are visiting each others’ gardens and made fabric face masks for neighbours. We are organised a sponsored walk through just giving to raise funds for a local company to provide child friendly visors for NHS staff. On this walk we will all walk the route of the street simultaneously maintaining our social distance.

It is a shame that it has taken something like this to be a valid excuse to cold-call neighbours. Many of our residents are elderly and socially isolated and making contact with people nearby has been a real bonus. It has also been a great reassurance to their family who would normally visit to know they have a whole street ready and willing to connect and support.

Story shared by Jill Simpson, United Kingdom.

More info contact jillsimpson81@hotmail.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions
Leverett Connects: A community wide list serve becomes the hub for all things related to coronavirus  in a small US town

Leverett Connects: A community wide list serve becomes the hub for all things related to coronavirus in a small US town

Leverett Pond, Picture by Oran Kauffman

Leverett is a small rural town in Western Mass of 1700 people. Our local community building group, the Leverett Alliance, listening to community voices decided to launch a town wide list.serve. Until then the town had no way to connect, exchange info, etc.

In September we started to publicize by posting flyers, sitting at the dump and the Post Office. Within a few months we had 250 members. We then sent a postcard to every household showing how easy it was to sign up for free, and the number climbed. People used the list serve to ask for help offer help, etc.

Then corona virus hit the country and since then the number of folks engaged has grown (now over 425) and the exchanges are very moving. Making masks for each other, shopping for each other, going to the dump for each other, food delivery options, finding out when to shop at the stores, etc.

It has created a true sense of community and has addressed very concrete needs. Some have even started an “coyote howl” across the pond in the center of town to mimic some of the activity in Italy and elsewhere.

As one user observed: “Hi, everyone, I just picked up an absolutely delightful rainbow-striped mask from the Post Office Thank you, seamstresses and seamsters! Thanks, too, to the enlightened techies who set up Leverett Connects. Who could have known that it would become so crucial to so many of us? It is wonderful to live in this town.” (Annie Jones)

We have heard that list serves like this are working in urban neighborhoods as well.

Story shared by Tom Wolff, from Massachusetts, USA.

To learn more: tom@tomwolff.com

Posted by Cinzia Albanesi in New Bank for Community Ideas and Solutions