Louise Morse takes a look at the ways that coronavirus is bringing out the kindness in us.
In his address to the nation on release from hospital, Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked NHS staff for saving his life. He was particularly grateful to two nurses who had stood by his bedside for 48 critical hours: their vigil made the difference. The NHS, he said, was, “…unconquerable. It is powered by love.” This same love is behind an outpouring of kindness and generosity all over the country, with people standing by people they have never met in countless acts of kindness. It’s beyond altruism: it shows that we are made in God’s image, even though marred by sin.
In Wales, a 22-year-old man is making free “care packages” for his elderly neighbours during the lockdown, using his own money and a £50 donation from his boss. Brandon Llewellyn said he works in retail, so knows what it’s like shopping for the elderly at the best of times. A top curry restaurant donated 100 meals to its local NHS and a business hiring skips turned up with a skip loaded with all sorts of soft drinks. In London, the kitchens of the famous Ivy and Annabel’s club are producing 5,000 meals a week for staff at London hospitals, and the owner, Richard Caring, is working with London’s biggest food redistribution charity, The Felix Project, to help feed 20,000 isolated elderly people, NHS workers and families with no income. London-based car sharing company, Hiyacar, is arranging for cars to be placed as close as possible to hospitals or areas where key workers are located and not charging a fee for the hire, only a subsidised insurance from £9 a day. In Devon, Ramsey trained chef, Tom Williams-Hawkes, closed his successful hotel and now stands on the street out front in a woolly hat, serving hot tea and seriously good bacon sandwiches. (BBC News, 28.03.2020).
These examples are only a tiny part of the whole picture, not just in the UK but all over the world. An appeal for volunteers to help the NHS received 250,000 responses in 24 hours, rising to 750,000 after 10 days. In Spain, a doctor appealed online for letters for those isolated in the hospital and was inundated with thousands. In India, volunteers are taking food to poor districts where self-isolation means no wages.
Annabel’s Richard Caring summed up the spirit of the times when he said, ‘‘This is a time for reflection, patience, understanding, co-operation, trust, belief and most important of all – action”. Also, there seems to be more receptivity to the Christian message throughout the crisis, with wide acclaim for the Queen’s Easter message and, according to the Church of England, more than 2 million people tuning in to national streamed services and other large audiences watching more than 3,000 services streamed from local churches.