During these testing times, we -more than ever- need to develop a community union and help one another, especially the ones who need it the most; in order to get through the Coronavirus crisis even stronger and proud.
Jason Williams and his wife Rhian have decided to take action and give the example of providing protection to the vulnerable. As Jason says: “the elderly people are facing the danger of being left behind, fall through the gaps and be dangerously isolated from society”.
The elderly and the poorly, the most at risk and requiring isolation, are demographics that often get forgotten in panic and people adopt an almost survival of the fittest mentality until they are reminded of their humanity. Social media are full of pictures of panic buying, supermarket shelves being emptied and not being able to book slots for online food deliveries.
“It seemed essential to try and bring people together, ultimately just to get people talking as a community and remembering we are all human beings who need to protect each other from this unfolding pandemic. We’ve all seen the pictures of Italians singing to each other on their balconies, we just need being reminded every now and again” Jason adds.
Jason and Rhian have set up a Facebook page “Watford People Helping Their Community” to get Watford locals to talk and to make sure there is a filter on the hysteria of the media. The response was great, growing to 300+ members within hours and it continues to grow each day. As the page grew, it was being used as an information board and for people to reach out if they need help, with both Watford MP Dean Russell and Watford mayor, Peter Taylor, joining the group and posting to reassure the authorities are dealing with the situation. Also, the page’s admins have been in contact with Chris Luff, CEO of the Watford & West Herts Chamber of Commerce, who has advised to provide any support, contacts and guidance.
Not long after that, Jason and his wife had to use their Facebook page for themselves; Rhian and Jason caught what their family believes is just a bad cold, however, in light of the circumstances they felt like having to go in a 14-day isolation as a precaution, rather than taking the risk: “I felt posting this on the page was the best course of action and the response has been truly amazing; so many people have responded positively to our action and have really pulled together to help provide information”.
Jason, then adds “a twist to our story is that our youngest turns 5 on Sunday and to tell him we can’t go bowling or have his friends around to enjoy his birthday is heart-breaking. His nan has decided to use our Christmas decorations and decorate our garden whilst we stay indoors, so that we can turn his special day into an unforgettable celebration. Rhian posted on the page asking for anyone who wouldn’t mind donating Xmas crackers to us, also mentioning we were now struggling to find him a bike for his present. As a result, a very kind member of the community has offered us a second-hand bike and is happy to deliver it to our door too, so he does not go without”.
These actions and the number of people interested in the page represents the Watford community spirit. What started as just an “info page” has turned into a -truly heart-warming- humanity building group that could now benefit all communities in Watford. “If anything, it’s already got the kids outside in our garden when otherwise they would prefer to watch Netflix or play computer games” Jason laughs.