This past year, community has become increasingly important to many, particularly those who are vulnerable, elderly, disabled, and isolated. Repeated lockdowns and limits on physical contact with loved ones have increased the percentage of people declaring a sense of loneliness and apathy towards life, with community projects or outreach programs being one of the key ways of helping people make it through such a difficult, life-halting year.
Whether your community has provided food parcels to families and residents in need, kept in regular contact with those who are isolated, been fund-raising for local charities and healthcare centres, or simply found ways to keep a smile on people’s faces, community endeavors have been integral to the survival of many throughout 2020 and well into the start of 2021.
Now that the pandemic has become less central, with vaccines being delivered to many, those who feel that their community has been a source of joy and inspiration over this last year finally have the opportunity to start thinking about to give back. Below, we’ve collated a list of some of the ways in which you may wish to give back to your community, either to share your love and appreciation or to help others.
Many ex-healthcare staff were encouraged to re-join the medical frontline during the Covid-19 outbreak, with some answering this call by returning to work in medical centres and healthcare facilities, while others focused on community care and ensuring that the most fragile and vulnerable residents were being properly informed and looked after. Whichever way you look at it, those working in healthcare are essential to community living and support and, if you’re a compassionate someone who isn’t squeamish about blood or other bodily fluids, switching to a career in nursing could be your own way of giving back to your community.
While there are various routes into such a career, online courses set by universities and colleges could be the most expedient path, such as these online post master’s certificate nurse practitioner programs. Not only does 100% of learning generally take place online (not including residencies and clinical practicum), but you can also split your learning into manageable chunks that can be completed around your current job!
If we’ve all learned one thing from the past year, it’s to nurture, cherish, and fully appreciate our outdoor spaces, as these have been central to exercise, mental health care, and socialising in such tricky times.
In this vein, then, one way you could give back to your community would be to cultivate an outdoor space for the local area to maintain as one and enjoy. This could be a garden-type space, with benches, sensory elements (like wind chimes, light-reflecting objects), local artists’ sculptures, wildlife reserves for butterflies and bees (and other helpful critters), wildflower meadows, hedge mazes, and planting beds for various types of cultivated flowers.
Alternatively, you could create a local allotment to grow produce that’s available for those who need it. This would also be an excellent way of getting local groups of children and teens together to help improve the area and give them a purpose, some form of input into their locality.
Local Art Project
This is not only a great way to involve all members of the community in a single project, but it also allows the flourishing of creativity through collaboration. To get started, you could send out flyers or post on local Facebook groups to gather people together for a consultation, and then decide on a piece or pieces of artwork that local people from the community can create together.
This could be a sculpture or sculptures, a giant collage, a graffiti-style wall mural, window art, natural art… the list is endless, and provides a lot of scope for collaboration and personalisation.
Food and Essentials Drive
The pandemic helped to expose the social inequalities that exist in society and, in some cases, it actually worsened the long-term quality of life for many of those already living on the fringes of society. As such, it came to the attention of many that there existed vast swathes of local communities who had been struggling to survive and afford basic necessities prior to the pandemic, and whose lives had worsened as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdowns.
In times like these, community initiatives have become invaluable to those requiring additional support that is not yet available. A brilliant way of giving back to your community and helping those in need is to organise and facilitate regular food and clothing drives, where people can donate their unwanted clothes or home essentials – as well as various food and household items – for those who are in need of these items.
This could then lead to further initiatives, such as fund-raising concerts, to continue helping those in need. And this one is sure to give you a fuzzy feeling of goodness in your belly.
If organising isn’t your bag (it can be difficult just organising your own day-to-day routine, let alone big community events!), then volunteering could be the best way for you to give back.
You could venture into schools to help disadvantaged children with their reading and mental math skills. You could go into elderly care homes to help alleviate boredom and chronic loneliness, or help out regularly at soup kitchens or food drives. You can help out in local charity shops, or help them to complete basic admin and social media tasks that extend beyond the main charity business. You could volunteer to read to patients in hospitals or healthcare facilities, provide transport support to help the elderly and vulnerable get around… with volunteering, the options are endless. And you could help to save a life or, quite simply, put a smile on someone’s face – who needs more reward than that?
However you decide to give back to your community, it’s essential that we recognise and learn to appreciate the way that community support has minimised pressures and difficulties during this past year, and give back to those who have given up their own free time, money, and emotional reserves to help out.