How can I safely help others during COVID-19?
In a true “in it together” gesture, British Columbians are stepping forward to offer help during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wouldn’t expect anything less from our citizens. However, before jumping in, take time to consider the best way to get involved. The advice below will ensure your effort has the greatest impact, while keeping you safe.
Safety is a priority and our collective aim should be limiting the spread of COVID-19. If you’re displaying symptoms, such as fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, self isolate and use the COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool to determine if you need further assessment or testing.
If you’re not displaying symptoms, always practice physical distancing by maintaining a two-metre (six foot) distance between yourself and others. You can achieve this my limiting activities outside your home, avoiding any gatherings and virtually connecting with friends and family.
If you’re a senior in need, call 2-1-1 or visit www.bc211.ca. If you’re interested in volunteering with seniors in your community, by checking in on them or dropping off supplies, you can also call or visit the website. The helpline is open 7 days a week.
Informal volunteering means giving help as an individual to people who aren’t relatives. This can be as simple as offering to pick up essentials for a vulnerable neighbour. Here are a few things to bear in mind when reaching out.
- If you don’t already know the person, don’t arrive at the door unannounced. This could cause inadvertent spread of the virus and spark undue stress and worry. Instead, leave a note of introduction with your contact information and let them know you’re just a call away
- Be prepared that someone may not need your help at this time. Just let the person know you’re available when they’re ready
- If someone has asked you for help, do not enter their home. Call and let them know when you’ll be dropping off groceries or other essentials at their door
- While you’re out and about, regularly wash your hands, sneeze or cough into your arm and maintain a two-metre (six foot) distance from others
- If you have any symptoms of illness, stay home and self-isolate
Formal volunteering means giving your time through official or registered groups, clubs and organizations. If you’re already a regular volunteer with an agency, reach out and see where you can help. Be sure to follow all health and safety guidelines laid out by your coordinator. Some roles may be specific to COVID-19, some may be related to maintaining normal services.
If you’re not already formally volunteering, consider getting in touch with organizations in your region and letting them what skills and times you have available. Keep in mind, organizations may be very busy and not able to respond to your enquiry right away.
Current Public Safety Lifeline Volunteers
The safety of volunteers remains a top priority and all PSLV groups are encouraged to follow the guidance and precautions from the Ministry of Health, Worksafe BC, the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC).
The following information is intended to support the health and safety of current volunteers.
Society’s most vulnerable will need continued support through the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re able, continue donating to food banks in your community. Many have set-up online donation systems to limit personal contact. If you’re uncertain how best to help, give your local food bank a call.
The need for an adequate blood supply doesn’t stop with the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancer patients, trauma victims and mothers who have complications during childbirth will still need your help. Canadian Blood Services is assuring the public that donations continue to be safe and that all offices have stringent cleaning and infection-control protocols in place.