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WORDS: SUPPLIED IMAGES: SHUTTERSTOCK

In just a few short weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down. As infections rise, so does the number of people facing unemployment, mounting debt and various other challenges

“Although life has undoubtedly become very stressful for everyone, we’re all experiencing the effects of lockdown in di­fferent ways and to varying degrees,” says Yael Geff en, CEO, Lew Ge­ffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

A growing number of small and medium-sized companies, which do not o­ffer essential goods and services are permanently shutting their doors and, as unemployment rises, more and more people are finding life increasingly difficult.

The lockdown has shown us the need for community. We’ve seen people coming together to do incredible things. One of the reasons we choose a neighbourhood to live in, is the vibrance of the local community. “So let’s all do our part to save our communities by taking care of the people who live in them and supporting local businesses to keep the economy going,” Ge­ffen says.

There are many things we can all do to support the communities in which we live and thrive, and for most we don’t even have to leave home.

1 Shop at local, independently-owned businesses

It may require a little more driving, but, where possible, shop at your local butchery, deli, pharmacy, grocery store, or boutique instead of chain stores.

2 Buy something extra

Treat yourself to something or buy two of a product that you always use. Ask if they have gift vouchers which you can save for the next birthday on the calendar.

3 Choose credits over refunds

If you have to return something and are in a position to do so, opting for credit rather than cash could mean the di­fference between them making rent this month – or not.

4 Pay for work not yet done

Many businesses, such as beauty salons and hairdressers, will not be able to resume operations for some time yet, so if you’re in a position to do so, pay for your first appointment or booking now to help them make it through lockdown.

5 Leave a review

The five minutes it takes to leave positive online reviews of your favourite local businesses on Google, Facebook etc will be time well spent. Not only could it drive new business their way, but the owners and staff­ will also appreciate the emotional support.

6 Order takeaways from your favourite local restaurants once a week

If your budget allows, of course. You can also support them by buying vouchers for friends and family that they can use later if they don’t live in your area.

7 Don’t forget the farmers

Most farmers’ markets across the country are closed because of the pandemic, so many of the smaller farmers will have no outlet but still have crops and food products available. Some will deliver their fresh produce to your doorstep if you order from them.

8 Go to ground

Gardening can be a great way to productively pass the time during lockdown and if you grow veggies and herbs you can also share them with neighbours, especially the elderly and those with mobility challenges who can’t easily get to the shops.

9 Share your expertise

If you are a web designer, help struggling businesses to build an ecommerce website to move their sales online or if you’re adept at social media, help a business to promote its brand and product.

10 Don’t forget the animals

Covid-19 is putting an immense amount of pressure on animal shelters across the country as their ability to raise funds is limited and adoptions cannot take place. The websites of your local shelters will have information about how you can assist them.

11 Donate blood

As the number of people with coronavirus increases, there will be fewer and fewer eligible donors and it will be extremely difficult to recover from critical shortage levels.

12 Spread cheer and positive messages

You can do this by creating sidewalk chalk art, painting kindness rocks and leaving them on your kerb or having the kids draw and paint rainbows to put up