Do you want to be part of a campaign to help limit the impact of COVID-19 in the UK?
Do you want to gain incredible skills and connect to a group of like minded people?
Do you want to bring about a positive change in the world you live, all while adding to your CV?
The impact on young people
The global outbreak of COVID-19 has been one of the hardest experiences for young people living in the UK. Even though you might be less likely to be seriously ill, you might have struggled with the consequences and overall impact of it, and you can play a huge part in reducing the impact.
Depression in British adults doubling during lockdown, the A Level results controversy, university places being lost and less jobs available as we head towards one of the wost recessions in living memory.
What a time to be young!
Develop skills that make a difference
Raleigh International are launching the Youth COVID Response Programme, an online campaign delivered by young people for young people.
You will have the opportunity to attend a series of online training sessions around topics such as campaigning, marketing, research and social media. You will put these skills into action by conducting research and talking to people in your own communities, to find out how people are feeling and how we can improve this current situation.
You will be empowering and giving a voice to those impacted.
This is a free opportunity
Open to candidates from the UK only
Applicants must be aged 18 and over
Deadline for applications is Friday 4 September 2020.
If you are interested, please use our online form to sign up.
For more information about Raleigh’s work please visit:
Written by Becky Howitt, volunteer for the One Can Trust.
One Can Trust is a local foodbank that was established in 2011 in a small cupboard in St Andrew’s Church, High Wycombe. During this time, the church was broken into twice but all that was stolen was the food, bringing to light the desperate measures that people in the local community were taking whilst struggling to feed their families during times of crisis. Since then, the food poverty crisis has continued to grow, and the foodbank now runs out of a warehouse on Duke Street, High Wycombe to cope with the extra demand. It not only serves High Wycombe but also other communities in South Bucks, spanning from Princes Risborough to Denham, and since its creation 9 years ago it has provided food parcels to feed over 30,000 local adults and children.
The foodbank initiatives are driven from the bottom-up, guided and delivered by the local community it serves and their strength in supporting one another. The foodbank has always been a vital lifeline to people in our local community, but the COVID-19 pandemic has only further emphasised its necessity as demand for its services has more than doubled. Having volunteered at the foodbank for over a year and a half, I have seen first-hand the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on local families, and how the foodbank has had to adapt to the unfolding crisis.
The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the foodbank was providing food for fewer than 200 people a week. This dramatically increased during lockdown, peaking at 626 people, including 301 children in the week beginning May 20th. Although demand has fallen slightly during June, we are still supporting around 400 people a week – double the figures usually expected for this time of year. These alarming statistics may help to illustrate the urgency of the situation, but seeing the ever-growing list of names as a volunteer makes the dire situation even more tangible because behind every number is a person or a family desperately in need.
However, it is equally very rewarding to be able to make a difference as a volunteer. Over 100 front line agencies, e.g. Social Services, Wycombe Women’s Aid, Citizens Advice Bureau, refer people to the foodbank for food aid. It is then my role (alongside many other volunteers) to ‘pick and pack’ parcels tailored to the size of the household, whilst also considering dietary requirements, etc. Usually these would be collected by clients from a series of different pick-up centres, but in light of the pandemic we are now reliant on an army of delivery drivers who drop-off parcels directly to people’s homes.
Changing the delivery/pick-up service is not the only operational change that has had to be made during the pandemic. One of the key values of One Can Trust is that it is ‘run by the people of South Bucks, for the people of South Bucks’. Indeed, an impressive 120 volunteers help regularly at the foodbank in various different capacities, however many of them are over 70 and hence had to self-isolate during lockdown. However, many new volunteers offered their services to help meet the increased demand we were facing. One of these was my best friend, Meg, which was lovely as we were able to see each other weekly in a socially-distanced manner to pack food parcels.
A lovely and very powerful quote from the One Can Trust values is:
‘In humbling ourselves to a common purpose we can each contribute to something far beyond the reach of any one of us, strengthened by our collective values and supporting one another as we need it.’
The strength of the community is not only seen in the fact that in times of crisis many new volunteers are willing to give up their time, and also in that many others help by donate food and/or money. Each year an amazing £200,000 worth of food is collected by One Can Trust!
However, the way in which people make donations has also had to change as a result of lockdown. Usually One Can Trust are reliant on donation points at supermarkets, places of worship, schools, community groups and local businesses, etc, but with many of these being closed and with people being encouraged to shop in person as infrequently as possible, receiving enough donations in this way became near impossible. Therefore, the ‘Street Heroes’ campaign was launched. Local residents were asked if they could set up donation points outside their homes and then drop this food off to the warehouse.
There are now over 100 street heroes who are providing a staggering 90% of the food we distribute each week. I am acting as a street hero and to date my neighbours have collectively donated 677 items of food and toiletries which I have worked out will have made food parcels for roughly 17 families. My village have also been busy sewing facemasks with donations going to the One Can Trust and so far they have raised £1694! Monetary donations are equally essential to help cover the warehouse rental costs and to bulk buy items which the foodbank is running low on.
The Future of the Foodbank
Before the pandemic, it was estimated that the foodbank was expanding by a frightening 38% a year, but this figure is likely to be even higher in light of COVID-19. Usually the summer months are when the foodbank demand is greatest (last August we helped 1098 people) as children who usually receive free-school meals are no longer able to receive them. Thanks to Marcus Rashford’s campaign, the government have made a U-turn and the free-school meal voucher scheme will now be continuing throughout the summer holidays, but it is likely that the demand for the foodbank will remain high. As well as food, the foodbank also provides a toiletries pack with the first parcel, and subsequently these are given out on a monthly basis if the referral is renewed. It is estimated that 1 in 10 girls in the UK cannot afford to buy menstrual products, and so the foodbank will also be instrumental in ensuring girls do not skip school when they reopen as a result of period poverty, as well as tackling food hunger.
What can you do to help?
Your time is an equally valuable donation so you may also want to consider volunteering for a foodbank or similar organisation. Despite it sometimes being emotionally harrowing or crazily busy (e.g. on one Friday we packed 117 parcels all before 2pm, 40 of which were for families from one primary school alone!), I have found the experience of volunteering incredibly rewarding, and would highly recommend it. If you live in South Bucks you may want to become a ‘Street Hero’, more information about which is available on the One Can Trust Website.
In my view, the most wonderful and inspiring thing about the One Can Trust is that both during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, all parts of the community are coming together to achieve a common goal – to end food poverty. From local churches and mosques driving food collections and providing care packages for volunteers, to supermarkets and local businesses donating food, to other charities donating money or referring clients, to the local media (e.g. the Wycombe Sound radio) raising awareness, and even the Wycombe Wanderers football team encouraging people to get involved, all aspects of the community are united in the fight against hunger, and are committed to making a difference to vulnerable people during lockdown and beyond.
To end this article, I think perhaps the work of the One Can Trust is best summed up in some testimonials from the people in the community it serves. These stories are taken from people who have been helped both prior to and during the COVID-19 crisis….
Lee (name changed) came to the UK from Portugal when he was 6 years old. He is married and has four children aged 11-21.Lee was made redundant, became depressed and built up debts. In desperation he got in with the wrong people, became a delivery driver for them, and served a 5 year sentence for possession of drugs. After his sentence, Lees immigration status was investigated, and he was unable to work for over a year. His family were barely surviving, his wife had serious health issues. The One Can support ensured his children and wife were fed (he would go without to make the food go further). Lee always came on his own to One Can as his humiliation was too deep to bring his family with him.
I would walk around with Lee when he was selecting food. His wife would insist he only pick up healthy foods, he told me she was so happy when one week One Can had fresh onions, tomatoes and pineapples donated as his wife made a chickpea curry with rice and fruit salad which fed them all for two days. Lee bravely told his story in front of 60 One Can volunteers recently and thanked them profusely for helping them survive during those very dark times. His family was with him, they all quietly wept whilst he told his story. Lee is now working again, and he regularly volunteers with his daughter Lucy at the foodbank. In the last couple of weeks, Lee and his family gave us a very large cash donation to help with the Covid crisis.
“Thanks so much for my food parcel, it really means a lot. I suffer from anxiety and also not been working so this has really helped me through these hard times. I appreciate so much what you have done for me”
We recently met Peter who has been successfully recovering from substance abuse for the last two years.When one of the trustees was talking to him she asked “how do you manage to cook your food Peter?” His reply was “well in my kettle of course” as though it was the most natural thing in the world to do. He explained that he has £10 a week for his energy bills and to keep himself warm. If he uses his cooker hob or oven or turns on his refrigerator the whole £10 is gone and he cannot keep himself warm. He told the trustee with pride that he knew how to make a Sunday roast but that was far beyond the means that Peter has at the present time. Peter’s marriage broke down during his substance abuse but he still gets to see his teenage daughter once a week for a few hours. He would keep back some of his 4 day food parcel and go hungry so he could provide her with pasta with a tomato sauce all cooked in his kettle.
The trustee encouraged him to try and find a second hand slow cooker in a charity shop, and explained all the ways he could make meals with it using the cans of food One Can trust supplied. She explained to him how to chop up the fresh vegetables supplied and add them to the pot so they cook properly. A couple of weeks later Peter came up to the same trustee with a huge smile on his face. He told her how he had got a slow cooker, and had made a whole meal in it for when his daughter visited. He said he felt so proud to see the surprise on her face when his daughter smelled the home cooked food as she walked in and that her Dad had actually made it…
“This is just to say thank you to all the donors, the administrators and volunteers at the One Can food bank for all the support with the food parcel I have received for about a year no. It has really helped me remain focused and positive while working at a change of status for me. My thanks is not complete if I fail to mention those who offered their time, service and cars to ensure that food parcels get delivered to our homes. Thank you all.”
Last summer we hit 35°C one day on a very busy afternoon food bank opening at Wesley church. One of our volunteers noticed a client wearing a very heavy leather jacket. She made a comment to him as he passed saying “Hello, you must be boiling in that jacket?” He replied in a quiet voice that she almost didn’t hear. “It was chilly when I left home”. The volunteer reflected on his words surrounded by the noise of the busy food bank. When he was having a cup of tea, she sat down with him and asked, “what time did you leave home?” He said very quietly very early this morning, it takes me 5 hours to walk to High Wycombe from Chinnor and 6 hours to walk back because his plastic bags kept breaking and all the cans roll into the gutter”. The volunteer went to her car and gave him her sturdy woven shopping bags for his food, so at least that week his cans didn’t roll into gutter whilst he was walking home.
In 2012, the United Nations Rio+20 Summit took place in New York amid fears about the sustainability of our planet. Within a discussion to define the environmental and economic goals of the global community, the purpose of the conference was to come up with a plan to ‘[meet] the needs of the present’ without compromising the ability of the future.’ On the 25 September, the 2030 Development Agenda entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ was agreed upon by 193 countries. The Agenda created and outlined the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGGs) designed to guide global development towards a sustainable future.
Here are ten must know facts about the future of sustainable global development:
The overriding aim of the SDGs is to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Extreme poverty is not only defined by insufficient income but the absence of fundamental necessities such as food, clean water and basic sanitation. The United Nations Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty and human rights, in 1983, described extreme poverty as ‘the absence of one or more factors enabling individuals and families to assume basic responsibilities and to enjoy fundamental rights’. Each of the seventeen Global Goals contribute to the resolution of extreme poverty.
Creating the Sustainable Development Goals was a global effort.
The Sustainable Development Goals are the product of a three year process of consultation involving 83 national surveys. The Rio+20 Summit was also attended by 192 United Nations member states. This makes it the largest summit in UN history.
This document provides a further insight about the outcome of the Summit.
None of the Goals can be achieved in isolation, they are all interlinked.
Progress towards each of the Global Goals is necessary for the success of the others. For example the third Global Goal, good health and well being, cannot be achieved without access to clean water, without educated professions to provide medical care and without the economic growth necessary to build a hospital. The success of one goal in this example has included progress within three others: clean water and sanitation, decent work and economic growth and quality education.
The Sustainable Development Goals have been drawn from the 23 human rights articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Sustainable Development Goals embody the same values and principles of peace, justice and freedom as the 23 human rights articles they are derived from. Many of the targets within the Goals also overlap with existing international human rights treaties. Therefore, as member states implement and work towards the Goals they are also furthering the progress of human rights within their own countries
The Sustainable Development Goals are not legally binding but all United Nations members have agreed to them.
Although the Goals are not legally binding, nations are expected to implement a national framework for achieving them. Nations also have a responsibility to monitor progress towards the Goals and provide accessible data on their progress.
Every participating nation reports on the progress they are making towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Here in the United Kingdom, the Goals are outlined in the Agenda 2030: Delivering the Global Goals which was created by the Department for International Development. A report was compiled by civil society organisations in 2019 to review progress towards the goals and identify areas for improvement.
Each goal is comprised of a set of targets to help achieve them
The 17 goals are comprised of 169 targets. Progress within these targets are measured by 232 independent indicators. For example, target 1.1 eradicate extreme poverty, is measured by the proportion of the population living below the poverty line according to their age, sex, employment status and geographical location. This website provides more information about how each of the targets are measured.
The Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved by local and global efforts.
Work towards the eradication of poverty and the implementation of human rights is not possible without the actions of everybody. This is why there are targets intended to be carried out at a government or policy level and as well as targets to be carried out by individuals in their local communities. Within the thirteenth goal, climate action, target 13.2 aims to integrate climate change measures into national policies and development planning. In contrast, target 13.3 relies on the actions of individuals to tackle climate change by recycling and purchasing reusable products.
The Sustainable Development Goals operate under an ethos of collective global action.
The ethos of universal participation was cultivated partly due to the failings of the predecessor to the Sustainable Development Goals to meet the something of the climate crisis. The Millenium Development Goals were designed in 2000 as a structural guide for developing nations. However, change was limited by the exclusion of developed nations who are the primary pollutants contributing to the climate crisis. Therefore, to bring about rapid change the SDGs promote global action as a solution to global change.
The Sustainable Development Goals are all inclusive.
None of the SGGs are deemed to have been met unless all people are included. This is why the pledge ‘leave no one behind’ was created as a slogan for this movement.
For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals this is a really interesting article that discusses how Human Rights and the Goals for Sustainable Development are ‘two sides of the same coin.’
Earth Minutes is an environmental communication and education service that uses creative mediums, such as film production, to spread crucial environmental research across a diverse range of audiences. Our mission is to engage and empower as many people as possible to drive positive, environmental action.
Importantly, over the last few years, digital platforms (ie. ranging from Instagram to Youtube) have become increasingly more important in regards to audience reach and influence, even over television. Moreover, since the Coronavirus pandemic, the usage of digital platforms has greatly increased (Forbes, 2020) and online environmental activism has boomed, such as the #ClimateStrikeOnline and #EnvironmentalistsForBlackLivesMatter social media campaigns. This undoubtably presents an opportunity to engage the wider public in environmental subjects through digital learning.
However, during COVID-19, what can we do at home to drive Climate Action?
Find the Motivation
It is important to keep researching to ensure your action is driven as effectively as possible. However, it is important to keep your research methods interesting and inspiring, for example get involved in digital events:
Another important, yet often neglected, part of Climate Action is addressing your mindset. Research is proving that having a pessimistic approach to environmental research can result in a downward spiral of defeatism (Hausfather and Peters, 2020), which inevitably results in people feeling overwhelmed and giving up.
However, through using frameworks of ‘Stubborn Optimism’ (Figueres and Rivett-Carnac, 2020) we can empower others to commit to lifestyle changes in the long term, through envisioning a more optimistic, sustainable future. Neurological research and history itself proves that optimistic decision-making works, as shown through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement (2015). Rather than suffering paralysis from fear and disassociation, the future is still our choice and we can keep climate change in manageable limits below 1.5 degrees and we can reduce emissions by 50% in this decade (Global Optimism, 2020).
So, we can do this. We need to challenge the masses of uncertainty and devastation towards immense courage rather than giving into negative instincts of defeatism. A stubbornly optimistic mindset is vital to keep up the pressure for change.
Use your social media platform, brand, or blog with purpose to raise awareness on the importance ofClimate Action. Use your skill, from writing, photography, making, cinematography, speeches, painting, and find your role in environmental campaigning. Get creative. Start now.
Some example of this include, Tolmeia Gregory (@TollyDollyPosh) using hand-made GIFs and social media graphics, Tori Tsui (@toritsui_) using painted statement signs, The Trash Traveller (@thetrashtraveler) producing campaign music videos. However, if you do not know where to start, it is just as important to share and support other campaigns. If you find a particular campaign that strongly resonates with you, you can respond and share it using your own original creativity.
Petition and Fundraise
Researching and raising awareness plays a fundamental role in driving environmental action, but we cannot stop there. We can actnow.
To act now, we can drive political change through petitions and we can support Climate charities/organisations by fundraising/donating to projects/schemes. Although this will not immediately change the world, these steps will encourage societal collaboration that will ultimately drive large-scale change.
People also are more inclined to take action if it is made easy, so directly link environmental petitions/fundraising to give people the direct option to act now. Some examples include:
One of most important challenges of 2020 is to engage the unengaged in environmental issues. A recent global study by IPSOS (2020) showed the public are no more willing to change their climate behaviours than they were in 2014. However, with the digital boom of COVID-19, we all have the opportunity to reach global audiences to inspire long-term, environmental change.
Use innovation. Set a goal to empower people who do not want to change, to change.
To embrace this, Earth Minutes is producing a social media series, the ‘Now Series’, which is made up of five micro-documentaries addressing current environmental topics of 2020. These micro-docs will explore cutting-edge research and innovative solutions using fast-paced, impactful and action-driven techniques, led by the Generation of Now (the people who are driving environmental change). Crucially, this micro-doc style ensures that the environmental research is concise enough to be addressed in approximately 10 minutes; suitable for any busy social media user, increasing the likelihood of people engaging in the issues. To follow and support the release of the ‘Now Series’ micro-docs, please go to: (https://www.earthminutes.co.uk/nowseries).
In summary, there is still a lot of Climate Action to be done, yet more importantly, there is a lot we can do now. Project Drawdown’s latest report proves that we have enough climate solutions to reach carbon neutral by 2040 (Project Drawdown, 2020), so let’s use the digitalised opportunities from COVID-19 to drive Climate Action now.
The thirteenth goal aims to combat the causes and impacts of climate change. Targets within this goal aim to instigate action and change through education, innovation and the promotion of adherence to climate commitments on an international level. This goal also aims to demonstrate the economic opportunities, such as job creation, that will come as we modernise our infrastructure to be sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Why care about climate change? Fact Check:
Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50 per cent higher than they were in 1990
Since 1880, sea levels have risen about 20cm and are projected to rise another 30-122cm by 2100.
The Paris Agreement is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that aims to keep the average global temperature below 2 degrees centigrade and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees . The Paris agreement only accounts for one third of the emission reductions required to keep the global temperatures below 2 degrees. This means that action to reduce climate change still needs to be addressed outside of international and government level policy.
To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, global carbon emissions must drop by 45% between 2010 and 2030 and reach net zero around 2050.
Aside from benefits that climate action has for the environment itself, efforts to reduce carbon emissions will create approximately 18 million jobs by 2030 within the sustainable energy sector.
How can the Sustainable Development Goals make a difference to climate change?
Every country is experiencing and will experience the effects of climate change; it is a global issue. As the Sustainable Development Goals are a framework for global change, their success reliant on the actions of policy makers and individuals alike, they can be used as an effective methodology for tackling a global issue.
Just like progress towards reducing climate change, progress within each Sustainable Development Goal is dependent on many different factors and social practices. This is why all 17 Goals are interdependent because progress or deterioration within each goal affects every one of the others. To use Climate Action as an example, the targets within the eleventh goal, Sustainable Cities and Communities, aim to reduce the environmental impact of our towns and cities. Progress within the Climate Action goal cannot be achieved without efforts to make our infrastructure sustainable.
Similarly, progress has to be made within the tenth goal, Reducing Inequalities. Without achieving the target of universal social, economic and political inclusion, all people and all countries will not be equipped to be a part of the global conversation and contribute to efforts to combat climate change. In addition, actions to reduce carbon emissions cannot be made without the fourth goal, Quality Education. Education will provide individuals with an understanding of environmental science and the severity of the climate crisis.
Most importantly, the progress towards the final goal, Partnership for the Goals, is a vital factor for the success of emission reduction. No one is exempt from the effects of climate change, therefore no one should be exempt from participating in the solution. This is relevant both to individuals in local communities and to policy makers in the international community. Accountability is a significant part of the seventeenth goal. Sustainable and long term change cannot be relied upon and hoped for in the future unless climate commitments are adhered to. A global problem requires a global solution.
How has Coronavirus Impacted Climate Action?
Lockdown policies have reduced travel and led to a reduction in air pollution.
Water quality has improved due to the reduction in air pollution. This has also been caused by the less frequent boat travel which has allowed sediment in bodies of water to settle.
However, the disruption that has been caused by the pandemic has acted as cover for illegal deforestation. According to NBC news deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has increased by 55 percent in the first four months of 2020 compared to the first four months of 2019.
Littering has been on the rise as disposable face masks and gloves have been discarded in the environment
What you can do to help?
Use your platform to participate in the conversation about the ‘new normal’ to make sure it has the best interests of our planet in mind.
Check to see if your country has signed and ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. If policy has not been implemented to meet the aims of the Convention, start a petition or write to your MP. For more information about international human rights conventions and how they are implemented see How Your Human Rights are Protected.
Spend your free time learning about your environment and climate change. There are so many online resources and webinars you can access at home to learn about climate action. In her article Climate Action During Covid-19, Emma Askew from Earth Minutes has provided so many different resources to help you out.
Raise awareness to environmental issues you are passionate about. The most effective way to make a change is to engage others and share what you have learnt.
Recycle your paper, glass, plastics, metal and old electronics.
Purchase sustainably choosing to buy products that are reusable
Buy eco-friendly products
Bike, walk or use public transport as much as possible
Consume less meat even if you go veggie for one day a week.
For more information and to see where I sourced my facts, take a look at some of these resources:
The eighth Sustainable Development Goal aims to improve living standards through the creation of decent work and the cultivation of sustainable economic growth.
Why is sustainable economic growth important?
Most importantly, working towards decent work and long-term economic growth will support the financial situation necessary to invest in national infrastructure. Infrastructure refers to the basic systems and services within a country. This includes water systems, electrical systems, communication systems, transport, and buildings. Investment in infrastructure supports the improvement of social and health care institutions for a community. Such changes will improve global living standards and ensure that poverty, characterised by hunger, disease and impoverishment, becomes significantly reduced.
Goal eight reflects the aims that economic growth can be achieved through job creation and market diversification. The targets within goal eight are working to promote policies that support development and productive activities that will aid in job creation. Further targets aim to achieve universal access to banking and financial services that will support entrepreneurs and the growth of micro-, small and medium sized enterprises.
What is the importance of decent work?
Sustainable economic growth cannot be achieved without a safe and healthy workforce and this is where the significance of decent work comes in. Targets within this goal aim to end forced labour and slavery world wide. Goal eight focuses on the importance of labour rights and the creation of safe and secure places of work. Decent work is also unattainable to those that lack the relevant skills to enter the workforce. Goal 8 aims to work towards the goal of full employment by creating opportunities for all people to gain the skills that can provide them with long-term fulfilling employment.
Economic growth and decent work are two sides of the same coin. Decent work cannot be achieved without the job opportunities that opportunities for innovation and investment into infrastructure create. At the same time, long-term economic growth cannot be carried out without a healthy workforce.
How has Coronavirus affected this goal? :
Guidance to stay at home, with the aim of safeguarding public health, has meant that less money is being put into the economy.
A reduction in trade has resulted in many companies having to furlough their staff. This means that the government has stepped in to pay their wages where the company has been unable to in order to keep future employment a possibility.
The impact of Coronavirus on some businesses has prompted innovation to keep their business alive and ensure their brand remains relevant.
Businesses such as Rolls Royce, that are unable to innovate and adapt to the current economic climate, are losing money because customers have less money to buy their products. This has led to job loss and an increase in unemployment rates.
Smaller businesses that lack the money to innovate also face the threat of insolvency because few customers are able to buy their products.
Ensuring that measures are in place to protect staff against Coronavirus in the workplace has become a central issue as companies begin to reopen and staff begin to return.
How can you make a difference right now? :
Buy goods from local businesses to support economic growth and job security within your local communities (especially where businesses have a narrow product range and are less able to adapt their services).
Ensure you are aware of your rights within your workplace and that you understand and abide by policies that have been put in place to ensure your safety.
Contribute to the protection of workers in frontline positions by making PPE at home that meets the standards put forward by the government.
Make sure you are a conscientious consumer by purchasing goods that have been sustainably produced.
Support educational opportunities for young people in all capacities to ensure that, while at home, they can continue to develop the skills that will make them employable in the future.
Written by Spencer Murphy, founder of The Lending Front.
The beauty of small to medium-sized enterprises (or SME) is their simplicity and drive. The basic aim of an SME is to provide an income source for the individual and their family. Many small businesses are based on a simple idea or passion, which can be used to provide for their community. They hire local staff, buy local supplies and benefit their local community. They are not just there to please shareholders and maximise profit.
SMEs tend to employ locally, increasing the local economy by providing a steady salary, which could then be spent at local businesses. Secondly, independent businesses will commonly purchase their equipment from local suppliers. This keeps the local economy ticking, while decreasing environmental costs from logistics. SMEs can only grow within their own means — they are driven by their own profit, which allows them to have sustained growth after a long period of time.
Every high street has its own character and charm driven by the local businesses surrounding it. Whether it be the traditional family-owned pub or local garage, they define their local area and create the community identity. With many employing multiple generations from multiple families, these businesses create common ground on which people can reminisce. They can also be a great source of pride. Think about ‘Barbour’ – originally a family run business from Newcastle, now worldwide. These businesses can also inspire locals to set up their own businesses, seeing people from the same background create extremely successful organisations.
When working for an SME, employees can pick up more skills as they are exposed to more aspects of the business, due to the company size. In corporations you are divided into specific departments working on specific tasks. For small independents, this isn’t possible as there are too many tasks per staff member. This isn’t to say that if you are working for an SME in human resources you are then going to be on the phones selling, but it does mean you will have more tasks within the human resources department.
These employees will then develop a lot more skills that are transferable to multiple jobs, and will benefit them hugely in their future career. SMEs give employees a sense of identity and purpose in their work. They will be part of a company that may want to grow. This allows employees to feel they are part of something and to look back on their career knowing “they were there” as the business grew.
As SMEs grow, they will need to promote people to new roles. This process will more than likely occur from within. This allows for quick career progression for many, and allows staff to gain more responsibility along with a higher paycheck.
With a small business, you can build a relationship with it and all its employees. You trust them — especially for a service you’re not an expert in. For example, if you are a mechanical novice and need your car fixed, you go to people you trust. Local businesses can be highly beneficial to communities that require a certain expertise service, run by people that can be relied on again and again.
How are we supporting local business?
The Lending Front was set up in order to provide information about unsecured loans and lending. Previously, I worked for an alternative lender and believe a lot of my customers didn’t fully understand what they were signing up for, so I wanted to provide a place where independent businesses could gain confidence and knowledge to understand business Financials.
This is particularly important during the coronavirus crisis, as many businesses are suffering financially and will be searching for other financial options to keep afloat. We have articles detailing the various financial options from the Government and how you can access this funding, as well as other methods of getting finance.
The website has ‘how to guides’ and information about the basics of finance, with a contact form if you as a business need help finding funding options. We also have short video explanations on our YouTube channel
We wanted to provide a website to help all understand the complexities of finance, but given in a simple, unbiased, easily digestible format. We, at The Lending Front, believe that supporting local business is incredibly important, not only during Corona Virus lockdown but for the future.
Before Covid-19, many UK citizens may not have felt that human rights and the Global Goals for Sustainable Development were especially relevant to their daily lives.
The effects of coronavirus sweeping the globe, however, have impacted our lives so severely that many of the human rights we took for granted are now restricted. The combined effects of lockdown and Covid-19 also have a disproportionate impact on certain demographics, meaning that many people in our communities are far more vulnerable and at higher risk than others. Recent reports from Public Health England and University College London reveal that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are two to three times more likely to die from Covid-19, and are dying disproportionately from the virus.
Though we may not initially recognise the effects of coronavirus on our lives as a human rights issue, lockdown and self-isolating has curtailed our right to freedom of movement to the extent that until very recently, only exercise and essential journeys for supplies were allowed under lockdown guidelines. Those in our communities who are forced to self-isolate entirely, due to underlying health conditions or age, have been left with no freedom of movement at all, having to stay within their own properties for weeks on end to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus.
This lack of free movement then has a knock-on effect on other human rights we might have otherwise taken for granted. Access to healthcare has become increasingly difficult, with only essential appointments going ahead in person and most other enquiries now being taken over the phone. What used to be a simple process of picking up your prescription at your local pharmacy is now impossible for those with underlying health conditions, who in turn are more likely to suffer from a lack of access to vital medication.
Our mutual aid group, High Wycombe Mutual Aid, aims to make sure no one in our community is left isolated or without support. The three main services we offer are:
Picking up your prescriptions
Doing your shopping for you
Having a regular chat on the phone
Though volunteers cannot restore someone’s freedom of movement for them under the current circumstances, they can support them through the lockdown by ensuring they are still able to secure the supplies they need.
Picking up prescriptions for someone who cannot get them in person ensures they can still access the healthcare they need, and delivering food shopping for a neighbour means they can eat well and maintain a degree of choice over what foods they would like.
Our third service of regular phone chats is no less important. Coronavirus has made the UK’s epidemic of loneliness even worse, isolating people from their friends and loved ones, and leaving those without these connections even more isolated. A regular phone call with someone alone can go a long way to stopping their well-being from plummeting, and gives them a friendly contact with whom they can share their experiences of lockdown.
Mutual Aid is not a charity per se, and we therefore refer people to pre-existing local food banks and health organisations if we cannot offer them the specific type of support they need. Our group is made up entirely of volunteers, most of whom have never met in person, who are using their time under lockdown to support their neighbours. Like thousands of other mutual aid organisations in the UK, our efforts are directed towards alleviating the effects of coronavirus lockdown, and consequently we are also, albeit often unwittingly, safeguarding our fellow citizens’ human rights.
For more information about High Wycombe Mutual Aid and to find out how to get involved in your area see:
Freedom of movement, access to healthcare, and favourable conditions in the workplace are just some of the human rights that have been limited as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
As we find ourselves following government advice to stay at home, our new global reality is that unless the solution to eradicate the virus leaves no one behind, Covid-19 will remain a global threat. Possibly unaware that their efforts are safeguarding human rights, local community initiatives are creating ingenious strategies to tackle inefficient levels of socio-economic provision. As responses to the crisis reflect strategies working to safeguard human rights, it is becoming clear that The Global Goals for Sustainable Development (Global Goals) remains a relevant strategy for combating the Covid-19 crisis. I have created this blog to demonstrate that national and global efforts against Covid-19 are being significantly driven by the positive impact of countless local level initiatives. Successful local initiatives are drawing attention to the human rights issues that have arisen during the Pandemic and they continue to provide their communities with vital support often filling in the gaps left by national strategies. Sharing local success stories with other communities, providing them with the knowledge and inspiration to do the same, is an underutilised key to combating this virus on a global scale.
In 2015 the United Nations Member States identified 17 interdependent areas for development as part of their global mandate to eradicate poverty and hunger by 2030. All 17 strategies are rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and work towards its global implementation. The Global Goals were named as such in line with the fundamental recognition that sustainable change on a global level could only be accomplished by ‘leaving no one behind’. As a result, the term global citizen was coined to describe an individual motivated to join in the global effort and aware of their place in the symbiotic relationship that exists between every human on the planet. Although progress towards the achievement of the Global Goals is an ongoing process, the continued existence of poverty reinforced by structured political, economic and social inequalities only emphasises the fact that there is still a long way to go.
“Leave no one behind”.
The Covid-19 crisis acts as a magnifying glass to the pre-existing global and national disparities in economic safeguarding and social care. Studies continue to expose the demographic groups that are experiencing the greatest health and financial ramifications. A significant factor which perpetuates existing structural inequalities is the fact that human rights articles have not been implemented within national laws and policies. News outlets have highlighted that differences in population concentration have been partly responsible for rapid rates of infection in places such as New York and Lombardy. Nevertheless, the long-term absence of social and economic safeguarding structures has now been drastically exposed by the differences in infection and death rates between regions, racial groups and social groups.
Current efforts to curtail infection rates, protect lives and maintain universal access to health care are simultaneously causing restrictions to the actualisation of many other human rights. Restrictions to freedom of movement have interrupted the education of millions of children world-wide. Even within the UK, pupils’ access to education remains a challenge especially for families without a laptop or computer who cannot access online educational resources at home. Restrictions have led to greater instances of domestic violence and reduced access to shelters and harm reduction services. Though self-isolation and social distancing measures have been implemented to reduce infection rates of Covid-19, they have made it difficult for vulnerable people to pick up their prescriptions and increased the risks posed to those living in conditions that prevent them from following this advice. This has particularly affected migrant and refugee populations living in informal camps and has also reduced their access to healthcare.
Most notably, great attention has been drawn to the inability of frontline workers to preserve their right to favourable working conditions. The overwhelming number of patients being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 has required the exceptional efforts of regular NHS staff to support their medical care. Retirees and medical students too have been drafted to help tackle the crisis and many professionals that would not normally be exposed to communicable diseases are now finding themselves in frontline positions. As a result, significantly greater quantities of PPE are required to keep frontline staff protected. A survey from the Office of National Statistics found that between 20 March 2020 and 30 March 2020, of the 2,010 members of the general public sampled, 20% stated that they were concerned about their health and safety in the workplace. The crisis continues to demonstrate that despite efforts to safeguard workers’ human rights to favourable working conditions, global and national production systems are not designed nor equipped to deal with the strain of producing the PPE resources necessary to combat the virus on a global scale. On the 26th of April, The Guardian reported that approximately 115 medical staff including doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, paramedics, and volunteers had died during this Pandemic. As medical unions continue to advise medical staff to refuse to provide treatment if they have not been provided with suitable protective equipment, the absence of PPE may also begin to affect the ability of the NHS to provide access to universal health care.
Of the 2,010 individuals sampled, the Office of National Statistics found that 20% were concerned about their health and safety in the work place.
However, the remarkable efforts of civil society organisations, mutual aid organisations, and self-starting individuals continue to demonstrate the ingenuity and resolve of local communities to relieve the effects of restrictions to human rights. Individuals and local organisations, such as the Women’s Institute, have taken it upon themselves to make PPE for local NHS trusts. Approximately 4,300 mutual aid groups now exist in the UK to provide food and collect prescriptions amongst other efforts to protect vulnerable members of their communities.
What has been demonstrated by the efforts of UK volunteers amounts to a defence of human rights through strategies outlined in the Global Goals. Teachers that continue to provide different types of educational resources for students at home are providing quality of education for all and defending Article 26 from the UNDC. The work of food banks and volunteers to deliver food to vulnerable people utilises actions within the global goal to achieve zero hunger and simultaneously defends Article 25. The shortcomings that have been highlighted by the Covid-19 Crisis demonstrate that many socio-economic rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not being effectively upheld. Strategies to resolve these issues exist in the form of the Sustainable Global Goals and they are already being implemented, possibly unknowingly, within our local communities.
I have created this blog to collate stories that will draw attention to the human rights issues that have affected your local communities during this pandemic, and celebrate successful strategies that could be used to help others. In doing so, I hope to demonstrate that national and global efforts against Covid-19 are being significantly driven by the positive impact of countless local level initiatives.
· Are there human rights issues that have been exacerbated, created or overlooked by the Pandemic that are affecting your local communities?
· Have local organisations, mutual aid groups or individuals made a difference in relieving their effects?
· How are your family, friends, mutual aid groups, and local organisations making a positive difference in your community?