COVID-19: good practices and initiatives
Below you will find some examples of initiatives carried out by civil society organisations, citizens and other stakeholders across the EU to overcome the challenges raised by the COVID-19 crisis.
This list is regularly updated. If you are aware of inspiring initiatives taking place in your region, please share it with us: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The World Health Organisation and several national and local health authorities have developed mobile apps to self-evaluate symptoms and get additional information: WHO Health Alert via WhatsApp - New mobile application to detect COVID-19 in Catalonia
- Internet and phone providers in the UK are working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of COVID-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported as a way to ensure that they can remain socially connected during the pandemic.
- Radio have a key role to play for people who are self-isolating. In the UK, Later Life Audio and Radio Network (LLARN) is providing audio content produced by older adults. In France, la Radio Haut-Paleur provide programmes more specificalluy intended for older persons who are isolated at home or in retirement homes; and Alzheimer la radio offers a special program (incl. podcasts and live programmes) during this period of confinement.
- Several gyms offer online classes, including specialised classes for seniors and exercising with kids. For exampel in Ireland a number of physical activity programmes have moved from gym-based sessions to home-based and are being delivered to older people via social media, live stream, DVD’s and others. The programmes include Age & Opportunity’s Physical Activity Classes, Siel Bleu and a more clinical led exercise programme ExWell where patients with chronic diseases are referred by a medical professional and they are tailored to suit the condition that they have.
From the UK, Joe Wicks (aka The Body Coach) is also posting specific for people over 50 and with children who are not attending school which has received a lot of traction in the media. Similar videos have been published in Japan.
In Belgium, AGE member organisation OKRA has been working together with public broadcasting channel Eén to produce Beweeg in uw kot!, a daily physical work-out show adapted for older people, on one of Belgian largest television channels.
- In Brussels, Belgium a helpline has been put in place by mental health professional aiming to support individuals who are struggling due to the confinement measures.
- Helplines offering advice and support to older persons, especially to those feeling lonely, are also available in other EU countries, e.g. "El Hilo de Plata" in Spain or ‘Halofon’ in Poland, whose motto is: "If you feel lonely, don't have anyone to talk to or want to share your thoughts on what's happening, call us, we're here for you". Halofon is a local project on Łódź, but older people from all over Poland can call.
- Chat online platform to break isolation: e.g. the 'Plaudernetz' (the chat network) is a platform launched in Austria by Caritas and Magenta Telekom, where people who want someone to talk to are brought together with volunteers who like to listen. The motto: Distant socializing instead of social distancing.
- Family newspaper for confined grandparents: 'Des Nouvelles de chez nous'/'Vanuit ons kot'-krant ('News from home') is a weekly family 'journal' to help families maintain a link with the oldest relatives and break older persons' isolation during COVID-19 confinement, in particular those who are not familiar with new technologies and social networks. Children and grandchildren participate in the development of the paper by uploading photos and text to an application or site. The site operator prints the number and delivers it to the recipient's home.
- In Spain all drivers’ licenses, ID cards and other official documents with validity dates have been extended until the end of the quarantine.
- In Belgium nursing homes organize communication between residents and their relatives through social media or video door phones to foster contacts and reassure everyone.
- In Cyprus the Municipality of the town of Phafos, in an effort to assist older or disabled persons, who are recommended to stay home due to COVID-19, organised a task force available by phone to respond to older persons’ request for assistance to shop for them or buy their medicine.
- Informal support provided by neighbours and other spontaneously organised solidarity networks to go for grocery shopping, buy medicines or walk dogs for people in self-isolation can been found is several countries, e.g. in Belgium.
In the same vein, the English-speaking platform Give a day offers a free help platform for organizing neighborly help and volunteering for cities and NGOs worldwide during the COVID-19 crisis.
- In Ireland the national postal services A Post have introduced extended opening hours and have worked with Department of Social Protection to introduce emergency “Temporary Agents” who can collect pensions on behalf of those who are self-isolating.
- In Sweden, the Municipality of Berg, in the region of Jämtland, offers free food delivery at home once per week to people over 70 years. The Region pays half of the cost and the food store the other half.
- In many countries, leading stores have scheduled older customer-only hours. Many have also introduced floor markings to adhere to physical distancing recommendations. Some stores have also ensured that limits on purchases are set in the response to stock piling. At local level smaller shops are ramping up home deliveries particularly essential services such as prescriptions from pharmacies. Several local restaurants are continuing to cook meals for older people and delivering them in the community.
- In Greece, the non-profit organisation GIVMED coordinates donations of surplus medicines from individuals, health care companies and network partners to provide free medicines for nursing homes. GIVMED’s mission is to avoid pharmaceutical waste while improving access to medicine for vulnerable groups, in particular older people.
- In Belgium, volunteers are joining forces, as part of the "Linkup operation" to collect and revamp old tablets to be distributed in hospitals to help severly hit patients remain in contact with their family.
- In Ireland, Linda, who's been retired from teaching for 16 years. is bringing her grand-children homeworks support online and is encouraging further similar initiatives in her community and at national level.
All across Europe many other citizens' initiatives are being taken by people of all generations, expressing empathy, solidarity and unity as the best response to the pandemic. Find out some of them here.