We are living in very strange times. I am a 16-year-old living in London and have recently, like everyone under 18, been sent home from school. Many of my goals for this year have been cancelled; preparing for my national GCSE exams, rowing regattas and enjoying the summer holidays.
The constant news about how dangerous this coronavirus is to the health of our society and economy can become overwhelming. The discussion of the government’s shortcomings and a rising death toll, along with being stuck at home, can make you feel anxious and powerless to help.
However, I have had the good fortune of finding a recently created charity in my local area called W9 Crew. I was grateful to be accepted into the volunteer force and was immediately assigned many tasks. Together as a team we work with our local food bank and run other errands such as postage and prescription pickups.
Unfortunately as the lockdown continues, there are more and more high-risk cases, so W9 Crew have joined Paddington Emergency Response Unit. This Unit deals with people who are unable to support themselves or who are dealing with mental health issues, exacerbated or precipitated by the lockdown.
For us, this involves regularly shopping and cleaning for those individuals and crucially, talking with and provide emotional support for those who cannot leave their homes or see friends.
In one of our worst cases, an aged man was referred to us by concerned neighbours. The conditions in which he was living we so bad, that we had to wear full protective gear to enter his apartment. It took us days to clean it up and one day we arrived to find he had suffered a stroke. We brought him to hospital.
Without the help of the W9 Crew, this gentlemen’s life was in immediate danger. Had we not been there, who knows what might have happened?
We also helped at a local centre for homeless alcoholics and drug-addicts, where we regularly delivering food made by our volunteers. One exhausted member of staff said our work was “helping the clients” and that our charity was “absolutely amazing”. This meant a lot to us all.
My fellow volunteers have found helping those desperately in need, in any way possible, is hugely rewarding. Additionally, studies have shown that helping others is beneficial for potential stress and anxiety. Speaking personally, this has been a unique chance to evaluate my goals and work out what is important to me as I grow up. Helping others puts certain problems and anxieties into perspective, and makes us grateful for what we have.
This is a moment to appreciate the importance of community. It seems imperative to me to we learn, along with our neighbours, country and the world that we are not powerless. Change is incremental and as David Mitchell says “What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”.
The future is in our hands. Let’s all work together to fix this situation and build a better world.
To find out more check out the W9 Crew on Facebook
Written by Gabriel Daudy