NEW research from the British Red Cross has revealed that hugging friends and family (47%), being spontaneous (27%), getting dressed up (18%) and conversations with strangers (11%) are amongst the things we missed most in 2020.
The pandemic has also made us appreciate the simple things in life, rediscover the value of kindness and put more effort into our friendships. The survey found that:
- Two thirds (67%) of people said they now appreciate the simple things in life more.
- Nearly half (48%) of people said living through the pandemic will make them kinder for years to come.
- Two in five (41%) agreed that since the pandemic, they put more effort into their friendships with a fifth (18%) of people reigniting an old friendship in 2020.
- One third (33%) of people feel more supported by their local community than before the coronavirus crisis.
For 150 years, the British Red Cross has been supporting people through the darkest times and the coronavirus in no exception. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the British Red Cross has been part of the response, reaching over 1.5 million people with food and medicine packages, transport to and from hospital, emotional support, and a range of other practical help and advice.
The charity’s staff and volunteers have provided over 110,000 hours of support to our NHS and communities, from distributing Covid testing kits to delivering temperate tests and providing food for hospital staff.
Tiffany Golding, 33, from Colchester in Essex, is a British Red Cross emergency response volunteer who has been on the frontline of the pandemic, since the first lockdown in March.
Tiffany, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, joined the Red Cross to help her own mental well-being, after struggling for years with low self-esteem. In the first wave of the crisis, she was often working seven days a week, delivering vital prescriptions and visiting vulnerable people, recently out of the hospital.
Supporting her local community through tough times has boosted Tiffany’s confidence and brought her closer to others.
She says, “In many ways, I’ve felt that there has been a stronger sense of community during the pandemic. People really have pulled together.
“When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, it was a lightbulb moment. I’d always known I was different, but it was only when I got my diagnosis that I realised why. I think as you get older, people are more accepting of your differences and volunteering has helped me feel I’m achieving something.”
Throughout the year, Tiffany has been making doorstep welfare checks to people who could be vulnerable on Essex County Council’s behalf.
She recalls, “There were some cases that were more complicated than others – like the welfare call I made to a woman who it turned out had no heating, gas or food in the house. She wasn’t expecting me and was so grateful that I could help her get some basics like milk and sort out her gas supply.
“Sometimes, it was more simple stuff, like the elderly lady who wasn’t sure if she had all the medication she needed in her prescription delivery. I was able to go through it with her, so she was clear about what she had.”
As the pandemic continues, so does Tiffany’s emergency response work. But she doesn’t feel she should be singled out for praise.
“We all have days where the simplest task is too much – and it can happen to anybody. To me, going to get a prescription is a little thing, but to someone else, it makes a big difference.”
Zoë Abrams, Executive Director at the British Red Cross, said:
“For 150 years, the British Red Cross has helped the nation through its toughest times, and coronavirus is no exception. We want to say thank you to every single person who has shown kindness during this challenging time.
“As we welcome in a new year, we will continue to be there to support the most vulnerable people through this crisis – delivering food and medicine, making sure refugees and people seeking asylum are safe, and supporting the NHS to get patients home from the hospital.
“No one should struggle alone this winter. We know that the right help, at the right time, can change everything. By donating to the British Red Cross, you can put the power of kindness into action and make sure we’re there to get help to the people who need it most.”
As part of the research, the British Red Cross asked people about times when their community has pulled together through 2020. Some highlights include:
- In Scotland, a local arts group have organised a collection of donated Christmas trees and decorations to give to families who can’t afford their own this year.
- Another Scottish resident has painted a ‘mental health bench’ outside their local community centre. You can sit at the bench if you’re feeling down, and friendly by-passers will join you for a chat to help lift your spirits – letting you know that you’re not alone.
- When a young couple from the South East of England had their first baby during lockdown neighbours took it in turns to bring them a home-cooked meal every evening for a week, helping them adjust to life as new parents.
- In Wales, one community has set up a ‘village hub’ where people can offer help or receive it if they’re struggling. They say it’s really brought people together who wouldn’t usually cross paths.
- And in true British fashion, a respondent from Yorkshire and Humber described finding their neighbour had left a Sunday lunch or their doorstep while they were shielding.
Through the power of kindness, you can get help to those hit hardest by the pandemic this winter. To donate to the British Red Cross visit – redcross.org.uk/get-involved/donate