In the weeks since the arrival of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Netherlands, there have been dozens of initiatives and thousands of people coming up with creative solutions to help their communities. If you want to join the movement, here are a few ways to pitch in.
Of course, the most important way to help out is by protecting your own health, which means staying inside as much as possible, washing your hands frequently and following the latest health and safety advice to protect yourself and others.
There are a number of groups and organisations popping up that help pair those in need with people who can assist them. Possible tasks include everything from dropping off groceries and dog walking to making pancakes for the elderly or just having a phone call with someone who needs to hear a friendly voice. Check out:
- Wij Amsterdam: A collection of community initiatives collected by the City of Amsterdam.
- Together in Amsterdam: Provides older and more vulnerable Amsterdammers with social support and practical help.
- People helping people: An online bulletin board developed to facilitate connections.
- Red Cross Ready2Helper: With a 70,000 volunteers, this Red Cross civilian aid network offers a variety of different services, including delivering medicine and groceries.
- Serve the city: Organises activities like baking pancakes for the elderly, writing “thank you” cards for healthcare professionals and many other feel-good projects.
- Oma Post: A platform to send online cards to all the grandmas and grandads out there.
- Volunteers Central Amsterdam: A nice roundup of ways to contribute.
- Amsterdam Corona Help: This Facebook page is regularly updated with information about the new initiatives.
Buy food vouchers
The online service #Helpdehoreca works with Gifty to offer meal vouchers for more than 5,000 bars, restaurants and cafés across the Netherlands. The food industry has been hit hard by coronavirus and buying a voucher for your favourite restaurants will help them generate some income now, when they really need it. And while we’re all stuck inside, it is nice to start daydreaming of all those nice dinners out we’ll be enjoying when we’re celebrating happier times ahead.
Shop local online
Most brick-and-mortar businesses are struggling right now and you can give them a boost by ordering online and having things delivered. .
- Get fresh produce, pastries and more from supportlocals.nl
- Stock up on low-waste kitchen, bathroom and home items from oodlesandpinches.nl, with everything from shampoo bars and beeswax wraps to bulk supplies of pantry staples
- Rechtstreex is bringing the farmer’s market to your doorstep, allowing you to buy your groceries from local farmers and collect your goodies at a pickup point in your neighbourhood.
You can donate money to the World Health Organisation to support the global effort to prevent, detect and respond to coronavirus pandemic. The Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and CDC Foundation are also doing important work and will put your donations to good use. You can call your neighbourhood clinics to find out how to donate on a more local level.
The blood banks are remaining open as blood has a limited shelf life and remains a life-saving resource during this crisis. There are new precautions in place to register as a blood donor, so check the Sanquin website to find out where and how you can safely donate blood.
Get out your spool and thread
Many crafty Amsterdammers are offsetting the facemask shortage by sewing their own. One woman made 5,000 in a single week! Fabric masks may not meet the requirements for use in hospitals, but are a great resource at vital facilities where social distancing is still a challenge, such as homeless shelters, hospices and homes for the elderly. Dutch sewing expert Joost De Cock has patterns for facemasks on his website freesewing.org, so you can follow along.
Lend a hand at the hospitals
Amsterdam UMC may have volunteer tasks for people without medical training. Fill in this form (in Dutch) to see if you are a good match to offer provisional care or support at the hospital. There is also a great need for people who have some medical experience, such as students currently in medical school and retired nurses. If you have a medical background, check the Covid-19 Extra handen Facebook page for information about how to contribute.
All across the Netherlands people are doing their part to get through this together. Read Alison’s blog about the big-hearted community leaders who are cheering us up with their kind gestures and selfless services.