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How to help others in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic

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Laura McDermott - [email protected]
How to help others in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic
It's a time to support community members. File photo: DPA

Across Germany, grassroots movements are springing up to help people during this tough time. Here are some of them, as well as some helpful resources.


Who might need help?

Germany has urged people to avoid social contact as much as possible and new, wide-ranging measures, including a ban on gatherings of more than two people outside of the home or family, mean that life has changed drastically.

There are a few groups of people who are especially affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

People who are in the groups shown to be at highest risk from COVID-19 – the elderly and those with certain pre-existing conditions – may also be choosing to stay at home in a bid to limit social contact, and this could last a while.

Lots of people are helping out their families and neighbours by offering to pick up groceries.

It's also possible to order items online, but for many shops delivery times are currently longer than normal due to high demand.

In Germany you can also pick up prescription medicines for someone else if you have the prescription (das Rezept) from the doctor.

People who have the virus (or flu/cold like symptoms) have been told to stay at home and self-isolate (if they do not require hospital care). Others returning from high-risk countries have also been urged to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving back in Germany.

That means they may need help having groceries, medicines, or other essentials delivered during this time.

And small businesses are especially vulnerable to the negative economic impacts of the outbreak, while many workers in the hard-hit tourism industry have been laid off.

As a news site, here at The Local we are grateful for our incredible members whose support helps keep us afloat. But we do need your help to tell the stories that matter to international residents in Germany, so if you have questions, feedback or a story you would like to share, please don't hesitate to email us.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

Neighbourhood and community support

We searched for groups and reached out on social media asking people to flag up any projects they'd come across in their area.

Look out for the hashtags #Coronahilfe, #Nachbarschaftshilfe and #Nachbarschaftschallenge (neighbourhood help/neighbourhood challenge) for other local initiatives.

One thing to keep in mind: if you need help or you are interested in volunteering and go through groups, please use caution. While the majority of offers of help are likely to be genuine, it's possible that scammers will exploit the opportunity. When looking on social media, try to check that the person's profile is genuine and get some information about them before sending them a payment, for example.

You can find some recommended local groups from readers in this Facebook post.

It may also be worth finding some other community-based Facebook groups as the situation means we are all spending a lot more time indoors and maybe more time alone than usual.

There are groups for people in different cities, or with specific interests, where you could offer to help or simply find people to chat to.

Here's some initiatives that may be useful:

Solidarische Nachbarschaftshilfe provides a comprehensive list of self-organised neighbourhood structures across the country which are providing aid during the corona crisis, especially in supporting individuals who belong to risk groups.

Inspired by ‘Das Corona Update’ podcast (see below), Against the Virus has been launched under the banner that we all must help each other so that we can get through the coronavirus in the best possible way. The group says that, in order to help the most needy, the gap between digital and analogue must be bridged, and this is exactly what they are trying to do.

Offering a number of different services, the establishment has generated an online form which people can fill in and adapt so that they can offer help to others.
Another website launched with the goal of connecting the helpful and those in need in Berlin is CoronaPort. Developed by teenager Noah Adler, the website allows you to leave information such as where you live and either what you need or what you can do.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus restrictions: What's closed (and what's open) in Germany?

People who cannot rely on family or friends, especially those who belong to risk groups, rely on outside help. The page facilitates "extended neighbourhood assistance" in Berlin.”

Co-Tasker - a Berlin-based startup founded last month - have altered the services that they are providing through their platforms in order to help those who are most at risk in the capital. There is a free app, available to downloaded from the App Store and Google Play.

The initial notion that the company was built upon was the idea that users were able to post tasks that they need help with and other users can apply for these tasks, using their specific skills and earning money in return.

Individuals who are at risk during the crisis can include #atrisk in their task description and after their task is done the organisation will refund the service fees.

Queer Relief Covid-19 is a Berlin-based group coordinating those who want to offer help and those who are immunocompromised, chronically ill, asthmatic or elderly. The queer community effort offers priority to people belonging to marginalised groups. You can fill in the form to help here.

People across social media have also been flagging up various ways of supporting your community. Look out for other posts on the hashtags we mentioned above (there may be some others, too).

Some helpful resources

Corona Aktivisten Düsseldorf is a newly founded organisation with the goal of providing help and support during the coronavirus crisis through online media platforms.

The group is producing various courses and sessions which are then shown through Instagram Live. A representative informed us, however, that they are flexible to changing their platform depending on user demand.

Initially, the organisation provided yoga and meditation videos yet over time they are expanding to focus on lots of other topics. They have featured videos with specialists.

In addition, they have recently started broadcasting videos on topics such as advice on working from home, cooking tips and crafting for children.

Corona Aktivisten Düsseldorf have also been taking their work away from the digital spheres and working on neighbourhood support initiatives. 

The organisation told us that they took the plunge in a bid to offer help.

“We just want people to stand together and help each other," they told us.

Das Corona Update is a podcast by NDR with Prof Dr Christian Drosten, the head of virology at the Berlin Charité. They have already produced 14 episodes focusing on various aspects around the coronavirus that people need to know. 

The aim of the podcast is to inform as many people as possible, as well as possible - without spreading unnecessary panic. It's in German so could help you brush up on your language skills, too.

The podcast asks questions such as: “What is the current research track? What new insights are there about infection and the course of the disease? Is the excitement for the new virus appropriate? And: How are the researchers doing these days personally?”

READ ALSO: Why people in Germany don't need to panic buy

What else can you do?

Think about supporting small businesses and artists with donations or by purchasing items or services online.

Restaurants have to close at 6pm at the moment, but in many states they are allowed to provide delivery and food-to-go so you could support them.

And remember to limit your social contact. Activist Raul Krauthausen recently posted on Instagram stories of younger people who are also in risk groups who can be seriously affected by coronavirus.

It's a time to think of others and listen to those most affected, as well as follow government advice.


Hi, wir sind’s. Die #Risikogruppe. Du hast gedacht wir wären kettenrauchende Todkranke oder zumindest alt? Weit gefehlt. Keiner von uns ist Rentner und wir gehen genauso gerne wie du in Clubs, Bars und auf Konzerte. Worauf wir keinen Bock haben, ist sterben. Genau das ist aber gar nicht so unwahrscheinlich, wenn du nicht einfach die nächsten Wochen zuhause bleibst und deinen sozialen Aktionsradius für ein paar Wochen einschränkst. Je nachdem, was der Gesundheitsminister vorschlägt. In Italien ist es schon zu spät: Ärzte müssen entscheiden, wen sie beatmen - und wer stirbt. Warum? Unter anderem, weil sich die Menschen zu lange gegenseitig angesteckt haben. Aber wir wollten uns ja vorstellen. @disabletonlive, @amelieebner und sind das #TetraPack: Sie sind unterhalb der Halswirbelsäule gelähmt und können richtig schlecht abhusten - das Virus könnte sie töten. @kati.gaensebluemchen hat Spina Bifida und ein Lungenvolumen von einem halben Liter - ihr könnt euch vorstellen, wie praktisch das bei einer heftigen Infektion ist. @raulkrauthausen und @typitus haben Glasknochen - same story. @fraugehlhaar hat eine Muskelerkrankung, für die das Virus eine genauso tödliche Gefahr ist - so wie für die Lungen des querschnittgelähmten @realjkrolling. Doch das ist alles noch kein Grund zu sterben - finden wir. Ich hoffe du auch. Also halte dich an die Empfehlungen und rette Menschenleben - das von uns, aber auch von vielen anderen #Risikogruppen: Vorerkrankte, Menschen mit anderen chronischen Krankheiten. Du bist auch noch lange keine 60 und in der #Risikogruppe? Gib ihr ein Gesicht. Poste, rede drüber, lass dir helfen. Nutze diesen Hashtag. Join the band. Denn: Gestorben wird später. Viel später. Rock and roll, eure #Risikogruppe.

A post shared by Raul Krauthausen (@raulkrauthausen) on Mar 16, 2020 at 4:36am PDT

The German government is urging people to avoid social contact as much as possible and asking for residents to have solidarity with risk groups and health workers on the frontline. The government is now making regular updates about the coronavirus in Germany in six languages.

With reporting by Rachel Loxton



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