COVID-19: Strong Community Engagement Despite Social Distance
All over the world, people are affected to varying degrees by the drastic and unprecedented measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in addition to the major social, political and economic challenges that follow, the current situation has also resulted in people opening up and helping each other.
As the global crisis progresses, it is becoming increasingly clear that containing the pandemic depends on the understanding and cooperation of each individual and that some people are much more vulnerable and at risk of being left behind, due to health and social factors such as previous illnesses and age as well as work, contractual and housing situations.
It is expected that the number of people in need will increase, as well as the burden in health offices and hospitals. Even those who are not directly at risk for a severe course of COVID-19 disease now realize, that an overburdened health care system harms everyone - especially the weakest groups of society.
Broad-based voluntary commitment in Germany
This growing understanding of the situation seems to have kick-started a new wave of social commitment in the spirit of solidarity and humanity. Throughout Germany, thousands of volunteers are now active and have either responded to the numerous calls for engagement or launched aid projects on their own initiative, thereby spreading hope and courage.
11,000 applicants have responded to a call for applications as "Containment Managers" by the Robert Koch Institute and thousands of medical students have registered for voluntary service in hospitals throughout Germany.
While many young people are getting involved, older people are also considering how they can make a contribution. "The telephone service gives me a chance to help without endangering my husband and myself. As a retired doctor, I have the knowledge, the training and the time to support the public health service, which is particularly in demand," says a doctor from Bonn about her service in providing telephone counselling for those affected.
Due to the enormous range of support offered by citizens and associations, the city of Bonn, for example, has set up a new coordination office to optimise matching requests with offers of help.
UN Volunteers offers COVID-related assignments abroad
The current situation, as well as the prerequisites for crisis management, vary widely around the world. The United Nations Volunteer Programme, based in Bonn, is currently advertising a special call with COVID-19 relevant assignments to offer interested applicants the opportunity to make their contribution to the health care system worldwide, especially in structurally weaker countries. For others, who do not have the opportunity to leave their homes, the UN organization’s online volunteering platform might be an interesting way to be engaged in international voluntary work through the development of training courses and workshops as well as translation tasks, among other things.
UN SDG Action Campaign seeks most creative initiatives in the spirit of solidarity
The multitude of relief initiatives and expressions of solidarity that are being launched around the world in this time of global COVID-19 crisis have prompted the UN SDG Action Campaign to launch a Solidarity Award as part of this year’s edition of the annual SDG Action Awards. The Solidarity Award will recognize projects that improve the lives of others and spread hope during the ongoing crisis. Applications and nominations can be submitted until 25 May.