Southwark coronavirus: Four ways you can help during the COVID-19 outbreak

Josh Salisbury (16 March, 2020)

Four key ways Southwark residents can help battle coronavirus

35457Left: coronavirus; right: empty shelves at a Southwark supermarket

At the time of writing, thirty cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Southwark – among the highest in London.

Among the 35 deaths reported in the UK as a result of COVID-19 include a woman in her early nineties at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The unnamed person was announced to have died yesterday evening.

Hospitals across Southwark are warning that non-urgent surgery and appointments either will or may be cancelled to meet coronavirus demand, and the council is reviewing whether to continue holding some of its public meetings.

Ministers have also warned that stricter measures may be introduced to deal with the pandemic, including the banning of large scale events and closure of non-essential venues.

Here are four key ways you can help during the coronavirus outbreak in Southwark:

Check on your neighbours

Flyer designed to encourage people to help each other

More than 200 coronavirus ‘mutual aid’ online groups have been established across the country for those who are healthy to check on the vulnerable during the outbreak.

Southwark’s group, established at the end of last week, has 1,700 members at the time of writing and can be found here.

WhatsApp groups have been organised for the borough’s wards to accommodate requests from those self-isolating. This can include carrying out errands and shopping for those affected.

Other pre-existing groups have also begun recruiting volunteers for people to help during the crisis. Among them are Nunhead Rocks! which has begun an initiative called Nunhead Knocks.

People can sign up to help in a manner of ways, and also request help from the local community if they need it because of coronavirus. A dedicated website can be found here.

Donate to local foodbanks

Image: Little Village HQ / Facebook

Little Village HQ, which is like a food bank but for clothes, toys and equipment for babies and children, says that coronavirus has “caused a big drop in the number of donations.”

It most urgently needs: Nappies (all sizes); Wipes; Toiletries (adult and children’s – including baby wash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower gel etc; Menstrual products (pads, maternity pads).

The Southwark branch, based in Nunhead, is among those closing its drop in sessions over the virus, but donations can be dropped off there.

Items can also be ordered off an Amazon wish-list here, or money donated to support those in need here.

Southwark Food Bank is currently staying open five days a week to support those most vulnerable, who are also most likely to be affected by the coronavirus.

It has urged people to continue donating during the crisis “to make sure everyone is supported.” A donation link can be found here.

Items the food bank most urgently needs are: Sanitary towels (no tampons); Deodorant; Toiletries; Tinned Meat; Tinned Fish; Tinned Tomatoes; UHT Fruit Juice; Jam; Rice Pudding.

Avoid buying more than you need

A sign in the window of Sainsbury’s, Elephant and Castle

Supermarkets in the borough have reported temporary shortages of certain products including hand sanitiser and toilet rolls.

This is because of people buying more than they need to stockpile in the wake of the virus.

However, retailers have warned that this could put certain products out of the reach of those who are vulnerable.

  • Signs posted on Sainsbury’s branches across Southwark, including Elephant and Castle, read: “We are setting a limit of five units per customer on a small number of these products to ensure we can offer them to everyone who needs them.”
  • Asda has introduced a two per person restriction on certain items, “particularly on items like hand sanitizer and cleaning products.”
  • Aldi has restricted purchases to four per customer
  • Tesco has a five-item restriction on certain products such as long-life milk and pasta
Wash your hands

Healthcare officials and scientific advisors have stressed that the most effective way of containing this outbreak is for all of us to regularly wash our hands for at least twenty seconds.

Soap and warm water will do, as will hand sanitiser if soap is not to hand. The proper technique is demonstrated in the following video:

For those with even mild symptoms of coronavirus infection – a new continuous dry cough and/or a high temperature are being asked to self-isolate at home for at least seven days from when the symptoms started.

The latest Government guidance on the outbreak can be found here.


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