If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that human beings have such a huge capacity for kindness in times of hardship.
The first lockdown back in March saw hundreds of thousands of people in the UK sign up to volunteer to pick up food and medicine supplies for their vulnerable or self-isolating neighbours via the NHS responders scheme.
Shop owners started giving out free supplies to the elderly and vulnerable, while communities came together on platforms like Whatsapp and Nextdoor to offer each other emotional, and sometimes physical, support.
When PPE shortages hit, members of the public clamoured to help in any way they could, making face masks, shields and scrubs for NHS workers.
Since then so much has happened, but one constant through the months – as restrictions eased, and then tightened once more – has been people’s propensity to turn up for other.
Throughout 2020, HuffPost UK’s Minute Of Kindness series has shone a spotlight on some of these people. Here are nine stories that’ll make your heart burst with pride for our community heroes.
1. Six-Year-Old BFFs Raise Thousands For Yemen
When best friends Ayaan and Mikaeel from east London learned about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, they sprung to action, setting up a lemonade stand in the hope of raising a small sum for those impacted.
Incredibly, with donations from friends and family, they went on to raise more than £40,000.
Proud dad Shakil said: “I don’t think I can put it into words what it means to me as a father, because if you’re capable of doing this at six years old, you’re going to change the world.”
2. 8-Year-Old Mows Lawns For Key Workers
Eight-year-old Greyson Winfield is helping the people who need it most in his community of Conway, South Carolina. He has been cutting the grass for key workers and helping to feed the hungry in a bid to bring cheer to those around him.
“I always want to make sure there is a smile on somebody’s face,” he told HuffPost UK, adding that his parents have inspired him to help other people.
3. Caped Crusader Helps To Feed Those In Need
A man disguised as Batman has been helping Chile’s homeless during the pandemic by delivering hot food packages to those who need it most, from the boot of his car.
Batman, who wished to remain anonymous, told HuffPost UK: “I sacrifice a little bit for the city, for the country I love and for my people.”
4. Kind Filmmakers Made Memorial Videos For Those Lost To Coronavirus
Early on in the pandemic, creatives teamed up to make free memorial videos for those who had sadly lost their lives. The service helped families to grieve their loved ones, especially when regular funerals and services were temporarily unavailable.
Filmmaker Sarah Hodgetts said the films are “something that [people] can back to every month, every year, for the rest of their lives – and always have something that will be there to remind them of the good times.”
5. Girl Walks Marathon At Home For Amputee Charity
Maisie Catt lost her legs when she was a baby due to meningitis and septicaemia. In lockdown, she decided to walk a marathon in her garden and on a treadmill, using her blades, to raise money for a struggling amputee charity.
She was expecting to raise just shy of £300 and ended up raising a massive £11,500. Amazing work.
6. DJ Doctor Spends Spare Time Entertaining Fellow Frontline Workers
Doctor (and DJ) Kishan Bodalia wanted to lift the spirits of his fellow frontliners at the height of the pandemic, so he started doing live DJ sets on Instagram from his home. As popularity grew, he also invited fellow record spinners and performers to entertain.
“I’ve seen the impact that doing something like this on social media can have to lift spirits and to make people have something meaningful and enjoyable to look forward to,” he told HuffPost UK.
7. Costume-Maker Makes Scrubs For Sister’s Surgery
Early on in the pandemic, medical professionals were quickly finding themselves running out of PPE, including doctor’s scrubs. So furloughed costume-maker Anna Willetts got to work – she ended up making 25 sets of scrubs for her sister’s doctor’s surgery.
She told HuffPost UK, “it felt really good to be able to give back in some sort of way,” – while also giving her some purpose while furloughed from her job.
8. Hampshire Farm Shop Sent Food Hampers To Key Workers
A farm shop owner in east Hampshire delivered food parcels to key workers earlier in the pandemic, after watching an NHS nurse’s emotional plea for people to stop panic-buying.
William Benson, who owns Applegarth Farm in Grayshot, has since helped to raise £3,000 for frontline NHS staff and care-home workers and delivered dozens of lovely food packages since lockdown began in March. He said: “The smiles on their faces whenever you turn up [with a parcel] is brilliant.”
9. Keeping Vulnerable Neighbours Going In The Height Of Lockdown
Before NHS Responders were even a reality, Beverley Jones knew she had to do something to help the vulnerable people of her cul-de-sac.
She put a note through everyone’s door asking if they needed help and ended up routinely heading to the shops to pick up basic supplies and essential prescriptions for her neighbours.
“Just to see people’s faces when you drop the stuff off at the door... the smile of them just seeing somebody, it just makes my day,” she said.