LONDON – A few weeks ago, Kate Sellars organized a James Bond vacation for her wealthy clients, where they would be flown by helicopter to Monte Carlo to preview the latest Bond films, sparkling parties with cast members and, for each guest, an Aston Martin with gas poisonous and ready to drive.
Last week, Ms. Sellars dragged three shopping bags from a local supermarket to the front step of Garth Dlima, a 73-year-old retired accountant who was stranded inside his house when the corona virus swept through London.
“It’s just heartbreaking to not be able to help him carry his groceries up the stairs,” he said, as he waved at Mr Dima from the front gate of his house. “We can’t go to people’s homes because it will put them in danger.”
Sellars, whose luxury travel agent has been shocked by the pandemic, has exchanged his glamorous work with groceries shopping schedules and taking recipes for parents at Hampstead, a lush and prosperous London environment. He is a foot soldier in a extensive voluntary army, deployed in less than a week, to care for the most vulnerable Britons during the closure of the country.
When the government recently asked 250,000 people to help the National Health Service, more than 750,000 registered. It was forced to temporarily stop taking applicants so that it could process flooding. In addition to national programs, hundreds of community-based aid groups have sprung up across the country, registering tens of thousands of volunteers, such as Ms. Sellars
All said, it was a display that aroused British national solidarity – a good news amid the ups and downs of the bulletin the hospital was overwhelmed, inadequate testing, the increasing death toll, and setbacks for political establishments, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in intensive care and some of his aides are still struggling after contracting the virus.
[Analysis:[Analysis:[Analisis:[Analysis:Coronavirus puts forward the impossible British leader: Dominic Raab.]
This is also a welcoming balm, coming after three and a half years of bitter division over Brexit, a debate which divides the country socially, culturally and generations. Coronavirus, many commentators have noted, is a specter of the same opportunity: It attacks “Leavers” and “Remainers.”
“During the Brexit debate, people used to say what we really needed was a common enemy – and now we’ve got it,” said David Goodhart, an author whose last book, “The Road to a Place,” explores gaps in British society between rooted and rootless. “Unless this is an invisible enemy.”
The locking, said Goodhart, had revealed “hidden plumbing hidden in” the rich community: garbage collectors, shipping officers, drug store employees, and wholesale shop workers who store food on shelves. “It turns out the stacking shelves in supermarkets are really vital,” he said.
Most poignantly, it has exposed the fate of the elderly, who run the highest risk of giving up on pathogens. With that in mind, the government has urge people over the age of 70 to sever all but the most important social contact for 12 weeks to reduce the risk of contracting the virus.
That even makes people unable to walk every day to the local shops. Locked up in their homes, many don’t know how they should get food or other supplies. Lacking a broadband connection, some do not have face-to-face contact with friends or family members.
“The government has told 1.5 million people to stay inside, without knowing who they are or how they should do that,” said Connor Rochford, a medical doctor and former management consultant who started the Hampstead Volunteer Corps with his partner, Sarah Dobbie, and another couple, Kate and Brendan Guy.
“They feel scared and feel isolated,” he said. “Independence is fine up to a point, but the ethics of ‘Keep Calm, Carry On’ only goes so far.”
Since it began on March 14, a week before Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed a national lockdown, his group had gathered more than 600 volunteers. They are assigned to team leaders, like Ms. Sellars, which oversees the area of several square blocks and divides the shipment. So far, this group has helped 166 people, some with one-time requests, others with fixed orders.
With a little guidance from the government, the group was forced to design its own safety protocol. Volunteers wear sterile face masks and gloves and keep a tight distance from the people they help. They are not allowed to enter their homes. The committee has consulted with the crisis advisor for advice in dealing with people in very dire circumstances.
Money is a complicated matter: Some people can call the store first and provide their credit card information. In other cases, volunteers pay shopping costs and get reimbursement when they deliver.
For retirees like Mr. Dimaima, who is proud of his independence, is not an easy adjustment. A few days before, he had lined up outside a crowded supermarket during an ice storm. “I live alone so I always shop alone,” he said. “But my friend says I can’t go out.”
Some still refuse a helping hand. On her way to lower the recipe, Ms. Sellars stopped a man who was old enough to wear a raincoat on Hampstead High Street. He tells her he is going to the post office, not realizing it is closed. When he offered to help her shop, he looked at her in disbelief.
“If you want to help me,” he snapped, “you can give me £ 1,000.”
When the man turned around, Ms. Sellars, who is 39 years old, smiled sadly and said, “we call these people the Blitz generation.”
Hero of heroism Demolish much requested today. For some people, the enthusiasm of 1940 and 1941, when Britain was hit at night by German bombers, was evident in the stubborn independence of people like the old man, who was determined to go ahead, but tried the situation. For others, it is evident in the broader drama of the British who call for the determination to see their parents and grandparents through the ordeal.
At 8 pm every Thursday, people gather at the window or in front of the door to applaud for doctors and nurses from the National Health Service. Polite applause from the first week gave way to the hustle and bustle, because people were banging on pots and pans.
Blitz, some pointed out, has a less heroic dimension.
“That’s not all Churchillian united, but it’s full of inconvenience and crime,” said Simon Jenkins, author of “A Short History of London.” However, he said, “myths are as important as reality.” By linking Britain with wartime, Jenkins said, it had become a valuable way for the government to try to shore up morals in this difficult period.
For some older people, volunteer troops are a setback to the past that they remember is more socially cohesive than today.
“That reminds me of my childhood in Fifty,” said Jenni Towler, 69, who came to her house to take the painkillers delivered by Ms. Sellars “There is more interaction. We play together on the streets. “
“We all squatted and were not allowed to be together,” he said. “But we don’t feel alone. I hope this will last and we will be more neighbors – not just sending each other texts or emojis on our cellphones.”
For Ms. Sellars, volunteering has given meaning to life that is not hampered by a pandemic. His travel business, he is sure, will return. But in the meantime, he said that he had become friends with people who would otherwise become strangers on the sidewalk. Some left their little gifts at the door. Knowing them gave him a new perspective on the environment in which he was born.
“The big question is, what happens when this is finished?” Ms. Sellars asked when he stopped to look at the roofs of Victoria’s house in Hampstead.
Then his cellphone rang, and he wrote down the command to send a packet of soap to another urban coronavirus.
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