5 New Ways to Help this Week (29/08/2020)

Each week the What Can We Do? team adds new content to the site – we keep it relevant to make sure you’re informed on the latest! But because we also know it can be overwhelming with so much information flying around, we’ve collated five new things for you to get involved in this week – whether you do one or all five, you can make a difference.

1. Shocked by the events of anti-racism and police brutality in the USA last Sunday?

Sign the anti-racism petition 'Charge the cops who shot Jacob Blake' on Change.org.

Last Sunday, 29 year old Black man Jacob Blake was shot in the back from point blank range 7 times by a White police officer in Wisconsin, USA whilst unarmed with his 3 sons in the car. He is now paralysed from the waist down.

American police officers have not been criminally charged in more than 99% of the known on-duty killings since 2013, so petitions are launched to raise awareness of the issues and add pressure to create change.

You can also donate to help Jacob Blake's family cover medical expenses, grief counselling and assistance.

Want to do more to help support anti-racism? Read our blog of anti racism resources and how to support the BAME communities which are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

2. Support asylum seekers by asking for them to be given the right to work

Asylum seekers in the UK don't have the right to work whilst their application is processing, and receive only £5.39 per day to cover everything, including food, travel, and healthcare.

This leaves many families living in extreme poverty.

This can often have fatal consequences, such as the story last week of 34 year old Mercy Baguma, who was an asylum seeker found dead next to her severely malnourished baby after being unable to work and needing to rely on charities.

Sign the petition by Refugee Action calling on the Home Secretary Priti Patel to #LiftTheBan on asylum seekers working.

You can also donate to the fund for Mercy Baguma’s funeral costs, with the rest going to support her son.

Want to do more? Download Refugee Action’s Lift the Ban Activism Pack for information on how and why to get involved.

Not sure why you should sign that petition? Check out our article with all the info. Need some help writing to your MP? Check out our top tips and template.

To find out more about the current refugees conversation and what you can do, our Spotlight blog on Refugees guides you to all the different ways to help, no matter how much time or money you have.

3. Want to read something positive amongst a lot of negative noise? We have you covered!

The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning US author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy.

From the author of "Men Explain Things To Me", this book, Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, is something we can learn from given our current circumstances.

Looking at 5 major disasters like the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco or Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Solnit’s optimism makes us see the positive aspects of humanity and positive outcomes from disaster and social challenges - something we all could use right now!

The book is easily accessible online, and in local bookshops such as Waterstones.

Want to share your thoughts on this thought-provoking read and start the conversation? Tell us what you think on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or on our website.

4. Meet the Charity: Volunteer Centre Tower Hamlets

This week’s Voices of Change guest was Peppe Rella from VCTH, which matches local people with their perfect volunteering opportunities - everything from telephone befriending, tackling food poverty, translation services, social media support, helping local NHS services and more.

During the first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, VCTH received 2,000 volunteer registrations, more than double that they usually receive in a year.

Peppe told us that the kindness, generosity and sometimes bravery of local residents kept VCTH going.

One volunteer said: “volunteering is really a unique experience in life. Fear faded away while volunteering”.

Live, study or work in East London? Sign up as a volunteer and read their guide on volunteering during the COVID crisis. Or, donate to help them continue their crucial work.

Live elsewhere? Consider signing up to your local volunteering centre, and check out our website for volunteering opportunities.

5. Simple Switch - Help the baleen by staying green!

Last month, on the 20th of July in Chelmsford, Essex, a seagull was found with its legs trapped in the elastic straps of a disposable face mask for about an entire week.

The seagull remained motionless for hours, its joints being ‘swollen and sore’ and left unable to fly. It was saved and brought to South Essex Wildlife Hospital.

This is not an isolated case and the RSPCA says that being tangled in litter is the top reason people bring in injured animals.

You can do your part to help - and it’s so simple!

Cut the straps on your masks off or cut in half before throwing them away so that animals don't strangle themselves in the loops or choke on them. The straps can stay on the mask just as long as they are cut to not form traps for animals.

Never litter on the ground, and try not to use an outdoor bin.

You can also help by registering to join the Great British September Clean 11-27 September. Support Keep Britain Tidy by pledging to pick up litter on these dates, making a donation or fundraising.

Read more about how to be plastic bag free in our blog.

Research and article by Jennifer Pinto, edited by Emily Hodson.

Come back again next week for more ideas about how you can get involved and make a difference. In the meantime, if you know of any initiatives in your community that you think we should promote get in touch.

Have some more time to give? Find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and at our website for more inspiration.

Are you a volunteer, running a campaign or work at a charity or community group? Do you want to be our next guest blogger for our Voices of Change blog series or want to write for our Spotlight series? Then please get in touch.

More things you might like:

5 things you can do this week (23/8/2020)

Horrifying global surge | Spotlight On: Domestic abuse

"The only difference between them and us is luck" | Spotlight On: Refugees

A safe space for the LGBTQ+ community: Switchboard | Voices of Change

"Disproportionately affected": How to support the BAME communities through COVID-19

Why you should sign that petition

How to write to your MP without it taking loads of time and effort

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