As Hong Kong and the rest of the world hunkers down for Covid-19, we must remember that we are in this together as a collective, and practice community care to support marginalised people who are most affected by the pandemic.
While we need to practice social distancing to slow down community infection (epidemiologists refer to this as “flattening the curve”), this is the time when we need to support each other through mutual aid.
We can do this by creating a voluntary network in our community, however small or informal, to share materials, resources, and other forms of help so that we can support each other through this difficult period. People across the US and the UK have been forming mutual aid groups, and compiling available resources online.
While some Hongkongers have already been doing this in their personal lives or through their neighbourhood Facebook page, here are suggestions on how we can further cultivate community care in our everyday lives.
Enacting community care through mutual aid is particularly for folks who have been further marginalized by the pandemic. For example, since the outbreak, people working in food and service industries have experienced a big cut in their income, or lost their jobs.
They may need monetary donations just to make ends meet until the pandemic is under control. Check in with people in your social circle who are in industries most impacted by Covid-19, and if you have the economic resources, provide them with help.
Transportation and Deliveries
Since the elderly and those who with lowered immunity are most at risk of dying from the coronavirus, they need to be hypervigilant, and may practice social distancing by avoiding going out in public.
This may bar them from crucial everyday activities, like attending regular medical appointments, and shopping for groceries. If you have a car, offer to take these people to their appointments so they can avoid crowded public transportation.
Alternatively, if you are healthy and able, ask if you can help shop for them and deliver groceries to their doorstep.
Schools have been closed since February 3 because of the outbreak. School closures place a burden on working-class parents who must still go to work and cannot afford private childcare. Reach out to parents who may be in this situation if you can provide any kind of support.
People who are most at risk of getting infected and dying of Covid-19 are also the most socially marginalized—for example, old people, street cleaners, and people with chronic illnesses.
Resist the temptation to stockpile cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer, face masks, and other hygiene products so that there are supplies left for those who are most vulnerable. If you have more than enough at home, consider donating them to organizations that will distribute them to those in need.
While social distancing is prudent and necessary, it can be detrimental to our mental health. Reach out to your social circle via text and phone regularly. Check in with your friends about their emotional state, and have a list of mental health resources handy.
While we may want to huddle only among our closest friends and families during the pandemic, we cannot forget that we are all in this together—it takes collective responsibility, accountability, and community support for us to get through this.
It is crucial that we expand our circle of concern now to encompass not just our loved ones, but our community members. Our health and well-being are in the hands of each other.