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If you or anyone you love is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 please self-isolate and if your symptoms are causing you worry please call NHS 111.

With the launch of Lily Jo’s new single, ‘Be The Change’, we are thinking about ways that we can all be the change in our community from home.

Here are 5 ways you can make a HUGE difference – taking the lead from 5 amazing people who are changing the lives of people around them in their own communities during lockdown!

Turn your daily exercise into charity fundraising!

Hannah Macdonald, an actor from Salford, has been turning her daily mandated government exercise into pennies for NSPCC by doing 26 mystery runs in 26 days! Friends and family call in every day with a distance and Hannah puts on her trainers and gives it a go. Hannah has raised over £400 for the NSPCC and ran the equivalent of just under 4 marathons. It’s not only been good for the charity, Hannah thinks it’s been good for her mental health too. 

She says: “It’s felt so great to have a purpose whenever anxiety has kicked in during lockdown. The NSPCC does such important work in keeping children/young adults safe and as I’m the big sister of four, I feel really passionate about it.” 

Hannah wasn’t a big runner before she started her 26 runs in 26 days, and never dreamed she could complete a challenge like this: “I used to laugh at the thought of running and thought it was only for people that had these athletic physiques I saw on social media.” 

Yet, when it came to lockdown, Hannah stepped out of her comfort zone and gave running a try. Now she wants to encourage others to be the change for others by using their bodies! 

“It seems scary to try but really, it’s just like life. It’s about putting one foot in front of the other and giving it your best shot.” 

You can still support Hannah and donate to the NSPCC through her justgiving page, here.

Build up the community on your street!

For many of us, our main community at the moment has become the people most physically close to us. Lockdown has given us an opportunity to get to know our neighbors in ways we would never usually do! 

One street that is going above and beyond to create and nurture community is Eden Crescent in Kirkstall, Leeds. Based around a whatsapp group created by “Eden Cresident” Grace Hills, the lucky folk of this community have been working together to raise moral and money for charity throughout lockdown.

 Lockdown activities have included an Easter bear hunt, coordinated birdwatching, delivery of get-well cards from the resident children to a neighbour who was hospitalized, and now the street has been nominated for the friendliest street in Britain! And it all started with one neighbour starting a simple whatsapp group.

Grace wants to encourage others to be the change with those around them: “Something like this is a time to step out and build community because everyone is seeking that connection locally where they live. Perhaps you can be the person who starts that move and creates something that lasts after lockdown!” 

If you want to help Eden Crescent become the friendliest street in Britain, click here.

Craft for a good cause!

Last year, Durham-based Maria started a project called ‘The Panda Gallery’, making and selling things out of fabric she designed herself for good causes. Since the pandemic, Maria has decided to donate her fabric to the making of PPE and other NHS essential equipment like masks and scrub bags. The Panda Gallery is supplying U.K. sewers with correct patterns and materials which can then be returned for Maria and her team to wrap, label and press and send away to the right places! 

If you’re a crafty person and handy with a needle, please consider reaching out to The Panda Gallery on facebook to help contribute to Maria’s work and her good cause. Also, keep an eye out for future projects on the Panda Gallery! It’s intrepid founder likes to work with other creative children to make fun patterns and designs.

Encourage others when they are feeling the strain

Being the change is sometimes about standing up against things you think are wrong. When Val Davies heard that some people had been verbally abusing and spitting at her local Greater Manchester police officers, she sprang into “be the change” mode and used her superior baking action to make some beautiful cakes for the discouraged officers. 

When asked when she did it, Val said: “I want them to know they’re appreciated!” 

Following social distancing and proper conduct, the GMP team on D group at Stretford collected the cakes from Val’s doorstep after attending a nearby job. 

 A social media response from GMP Trafford North said: “During these challenging times gestures such as these are even more greatly appreciated. Thank you Val, your cakes have gone down a treat!!”

Use your talents to provide something fun for others!

Dan McDwyer is a respected musician and choir director who is the founder of The Choir Project and the musical director of Northern Voices. He was part of the Manchester Mental Health Choir’s appearance at The Royal Variety Performance with Emeli Sande in 2019. 

Since lockdown, many musicians and artists have found themselves struggling with many theatres and concert venues closed and the lifeblood of their livelihood taken away. It’s enough to make anyone morose, but instead Dan has decided to be the change and is running an online virtual choir to help people stay connected and creative. 

Dan believes in the power of music to improve mental health and wellbeing, and hopes that his choir will give people the opportunity to do this from the comfort of their own home. 

You can check The Choir Project MCR on youtube here.

Need more inspiration? Listen to Lily-Jo’s ‘Be The Change’

You can listen to Lily-Jo’s latest single, ‘Be The Change’ on the following digital platforms:

Being the change is a choice, and it starts with you!

This week we will be celebrating all the change we can be in the world by sharing videos and stories of people we know are being the change in our communities.

Who is changing your world for the better? Who is being the change in your community? Be the change and share a video or a comment with us so we can celebrate them too!

About the Author: Emma Hinds

Emma is a writer living and working in Manchester. She is a mental health advocate and has been blogging about mental health for the last ten years. Emma has a history of eating disorders and is currently living with a diagnosis of OCD and chronic depression. She has been working specifically with young people struggling with their mental health for the last four years and is now supporting the Lily Jo Project’s On Track follow up schools programs. You can see Emma’s work and follow her mental health blog here. You can also follow her on socials here: twitter@EmmaLouisePH and instagram@elphreads.

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