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Online call for neighbourhood help: Bonn students want to help people in the coronavirus crisis

Online call for neighbourhood help : Bonn students want to help people in the coronavirus crisis

A Bonn student has made a Facebook appeal to help elderly and sick people in the coronavirus crisis with the daily supply of food and medication.

Part of the society is behaving ruthlessly and selfishly in these difficult times of the current coronavirus crisis. Instead, Bonn student Anna Ibelshäuser wants to do something for needy and currently vulnerable people and she describes her intentions in Nett-Werk Bonn (only accessible to members of this Facebook group).

Due to her personal negative experiences in her circle of relatives and in shops, she has decided that she wants to do something actively to protect people at risk, i.e. older and sick people, and to provide these people with their most important daily needs of food and medicine.

More than 100 offers of help after a short time

Therefore, she has therefore called for support for her initiative via social media, with much success: By Saturday afternoon, more than 100 people had already responded to her Facebook post and offered their help, with offers of time and help with tasks such as childcare, homework help or pet care.

“I would never have thought that so many people would join in and that we would be able to put together such a great network of helpers,” Ibelshäuser says happily, adding emphatically that pulling together is the only correct response to the current exceptional situation. She is currently working with friends and a colleague who responded to her call to coordinate the action she has started. “At the moment, we are collecting information about which institutions we want to contact - for example Caritas, churches or the Bonn Volunteer Agency”, Ibelshäuser continued. She also wrote to the Mayor of Bonn to ask for support.

She also wants to talk about how, for example, food or medication should be delivered. Anna Ibelshäuser could imagine wearing gloves and a face mask when she has contact with her “customers”. It would also be possible to accept orders online and pay in advance, to reduce contact with the people at risk, she explained to the GA. This would all have to be discussed soon. In addition, they are still looking for ways to make the offer public enough that elderly and sick people are aware of it. Ibelshäuser also said that in addition to the social organisations mentioned above, they are also thinking of hanging posters in the large supermarkets in Bonn.

Some things should be considered when volunteering

It is the thought that counts, they say. Nevertheless, older people in particular should bear a few things in mind when they accept non-professional support from helpers outside the family, as Barbara Stupp, spokeswoman of the National Association of Senior Citizens’ Organisations (BAGSO) points out: "Neighbourhood help, especially for older and needy people, is a good and welcome initiative and a positive sign of solidarity in our society.” Nevertheless, older people should observe the usual rules of caution, i.e., do not let strangers into your apartment and do not give them any money.

“It is good if these helpers are known from the neighbourhood or a person of trust vouches for the helper. It is also good if the help is offered by an institution such as a volunteer agency, a house with many generations in it, or a senior citizens’ office,” Stupp adds.

The origin of the aid initiative is Austria

The support action of Anna Ibelshäuser has its origin in Austria. On Twitter, the Viennese political scientist Natascha Strobl called for more solidarity and asked how people could support each other in such a situation as now. The politically active social media manager Frederika Ferkova took up this approach and launched the so-called #NachbarschaftsChallenge (#Neighbourhood Challenge) on social media. Many users are enthusiastic: “We don’t belong to the risk group and can therefore help out if needed,” wrote one. In Vienna, a telephone hotline for older and needy people has now even been set up to include those who are not online in the campaign.

Frederika Ferkova hopes that the #NachbarschaftsChallenge will above all provide support for the students. Young people in particular could help out in their new-found leisure time – because schools and day-care centres and universities are also being closed for the time being – to solve the problems of the risk group, says Ferkova.

If you would like to come into contact with Anna Ibbelshäuser, you can do this via coronahilfebonn@gmx.de or 0178/9142174.

(Original text; Jonas Dirker and Dierk Himstedt, translation John Chandler)