How To Help Others Affected By The Pandemic, Both Here And Abroad

Your ultimate guide to supporting others during the coronavirus crisis – from keeping food on people's plates to sending hygiene supplies to those in need.

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Coronavirus is impacting all areas of life right now, meaning that many people around the world are struggling in different ways.

For those of us able to keep our jobs and work from home, or go to work safely, it can be hard to know exactly how to help others at this time. Whether donating, volunteering or offering physical support, here’s how you can do that.

Donate to help the the world’s poorest nations

According to the United Nations, coronavirus threatens to hit the world’s poorest nations disproportionately, not just as a health crisis but as a social and economic crisis.

Former foreign secretary David Miliband has warned there are “only weeks to prepare” for coronavirus hitting poorer countries. In conflict-affected states like Yemen and Syria, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which Miliband is CEO of, suggests that up to 1bn could get coronavirus and up to 3m people could die from it.

To help, you can donate to the IRC’s emergency response fund, which is providing lifesaving programmes to vulnerable communities in 40 countries worldwide. Help Refugees is also raising money to increase medical support to refugee camps, provide emergency accommodation for those who are sick, and distribute thousands of bars of soap and bottles of hand sanitiser.

Financially support struggling families

At the end of March, national poverty charity Turn2us reported a 520% increase in pleas for help from people facing financial struggles due to the pandemic.

Thomas Lawson, the charity’s chief executive, said despite government measures, millions of people still don’t qualify for help. On top of this, those who are eligible may have to wait months for financial support to come through.

The charity launched an emergency appeal to help fund crisis grants of £500 to give to struggling families. Those with cash to spare can donate online. An incredible £1.7m has been raised so far, but with millions expected to be left jobless or on reduced incomes, every bit helps.

Get food to those who need it

Three weeks into the lockdown, the Food Foundation said 1.5 million Brits had reported not eating for a whole day because they had money struggles or couldn’t access food. And some food banks been running short of supplies or have faced closures due to volunteers falling ill.

Food Foundation director Anna Taylor told The Guardian the crisis is too big to be left to food banks and local authorities alone, and requires “urgent and substantial investment from central government”. In the meantime, charities are stepping up.

Feedback is rescuing produce that would otherwise go to waste from farms and diverting it to vulnerable members of society. People can volunteer to become gleaners (collecting produce from farms and distributing to those in need locally) or make a donation to help get food to those who need it.

For an easy and localised way to help, why not donate to your nearest food bank? Or volunteer with them? If you can’t travel to a food bank, it’s worth calling to see if there’s a way for donations to be picked up, or another way you can help.

First Love foundation food bank co-founder, Aerold Bentley walks past goods for distribution to families, at the First Love foundation foodbank warehouse in Tower Hamlets.
First Love foundation food bank co-founder, Aerold Bentley walks past goods for distribution to families, at the First Love foundation foodbank warehouse in Tower Hamlets.

Keep toiletries flowing to food banks and refuges

People are in need of hygiene essentials. The Beauty Banks scheme is desperate for soap and detergent, however it’s now only accepting monetary donations. A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to help those in need.

The Hygiene Bank is also in need of urgent donations – you can text BASICS to 70085 to donate a fiver. And periods don’t stop because there’s a pandemic, so the Bloody Good Period is working hard to keep drop-in centres, refuges, homeless shelters and food banks topped up with sanitary products. However, they need financial support to pay for more products.

Support those with mental illness

A recent survey by Rethink Mental Illness, which needs donations to keep its support helpline running, revealed 80% of people living with mental illness are finding the coronavirus pandemic has made their mental health worse.

The Samaritans says the coronavirus crisis is “the biggest challenge [it] has ever faced” and has issued an emergency appeal so it can continue to support those who phone its helpline. Even before the crisis hit, its 20,000 volunteers were answering a call for help every six seconds. Donations help fund training for more volunteers and keep calls free of charge to those who phone up.

Those struggling with mental illness and facing financial hardship can apply to the Mad Covid fund, which is offering grants of up to £200 for those who need a buffer. You can donate to help keep the fund topped up.

fairywong via Getty Images

Donate blood or plasma

People are still encouraged to give blood during the lockdown, but as coronavirus cases grow, the number of people eligible to give blood could decrease. “Please keep donating. Blood donation is essential to saving lives,” says the NHS.

If you’ve recovered from coronavirus, your blood could provide a key ingredient that may help treat others who are critically ill with Covid-19. Researchers working with NHS Blood and Transplant are asking people who’ve had the virus, and are now healthy, to donate blood plasma as part of a clinical trial to find an effective treatment. Find out more.

Support the NHS

Clapping every Thursday is a nice way to thank our care workers, but there are other things we can do to show support. A crowdfunding campaign to buy urgent PPE, set up by NHS doctors, has reached over £2m, with actor James McAvoy pledging his support by donating £275,000. You can donate online.

Another team of people have created an initiative supporting NHS staff on the frontline. Help Them Help Us works on a donation model: you donate money and it goes towards PPE, as well as counselling and psychological services, childcare, and transport to and from work for NHS staff. It has raised over £1m in four weeks but needs continued support. You can donate, or find out more.

Experts have warned that for those on the frontline, the unique challenges of Covid-19 are pushing NHS workers to breaking point and that a PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) crisis looms for the NHS. offers wellbeing and mental health support for healthcare workers. It’s in need of £50,000 in donations to continue to support staff – find out how you can help.

Help those with pets

As more people face financial crisis, charities are bracing themselves for the number of animals in their care to rise – particularly as many of them had to halt adoption during lockdown.

The RSPCA is continuing to rescue animals facing cruelty and neglect. The charity is facing a funding shortfall due to the pandemic and is calling for urgent donations. Staff have been assisting owners who are self-isolating by taking pets to the vets, or looking after pets while owners are in hospital with the virus.

If you know of someone who is sick with coronavirus and has a pet, you could offer to walk – or care for – their pet while they are self-isolating.

The Association of Dogs & Cats Homes (ADCH) is fundraising to release funds of up to £10,000 to animal rescues facing closure. There are 1,200 animal rescue organisations across the UK and Republic of Ireland and a significant number are at crisis point. You can donate to help keep them open.