News Release: April 16, 2020 – Future Leaders Bermuda (FLB) is encouraging Bermudians with the means to do so to consider how they can support the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic based on their own unique resources and capabilities.
The phrase, ‘social distancing’ can be somewhat misleading: while it is vital that we follow government advice by adhering to the emergency regulations and avoiding physical contact with others, it is important that we do not fall into the trap of operating in silos or failing to consider the needs of our friends and neighbours in the wider community.
Instead, we must find innovative ways to remain connected with each other and maintain social cohesion.
Over the past month, a variety of international businesses and local companies have already begun the process, supporting local charities and taking care of persons who have fallen on hard times within our community directly.
These actions emphasise the need for a community-oriented response to this unprecedented crisis. However, smaller organisations and everyday Bermudians should be reminded that they do not need to have an abundance of wealth or millions of dollars worth of resources in order to assist.
We have seen examples of this already, such as local gardeners sharing extra food, or persons who have purchased groceries for elderly and vulnerable neighbours.
For persons of means, such as those who are well-taken care of or perhaps benefit from continued job security, we encourage you to consider small ways to keep money circulating among freelancers, small businesses, and self-employed workers in the community.
In dealing with persons whose services you engage regularly and know you will continue to use in the future, such as DJs, barbers and hairdressers, or videographers, consider making payments in advance in exchange for the promise of future work. Explore the possibility of reaching out to service workers, tradespeople and freelancers to determine whether they could benefit from a pre-payment which might just hold them over for the time being.
And above all, take a moment to reflect upon your own unique privileges, to consider how resources can be used to assist those who could use a helping hand during these unprecedented times.
By way of example, Future Leaders Bermuda has taken the following steps as an organisation:
- At the start of the outbreak, we utilised our web hosting and G-Suite tools to create an online information and contacts exchange spreadsheet for young Bermudians stuck overseas
- We have temporarily suspended all active fundraising campaigns in recognition of the increased demand being placed on other charities in the third sector providing direct relief or meeting more immediate needs;
- Where practicable, we have authorised pre-payments to freelancers and small businesses we engage with regularly, to help hold them over in anticipation of future services;
- As a team, we are taking note of the unique resources and capabilities at our disposal to identify any other gaps within the community and consider how we can prepare to fill in and best assist other organisations where needed.
Although we may be forced to shut our doors and isolate ourselves from persons outside of our households in the physical sense, it is important that we take the opposite approach regarding the wider societal impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
We must consider the needs of individuals and families who may be teetering on the edge – such as those who operate on small margins and rely on frequent payments to stay afloat as opposed to receiving an annual salary or guaranteed income.
Such an approach may seem short-sighted or overly generous, but in actuality, your consideration may come full circle and benefit us all.
These acts of kindness might just prevent desperate persons who are living on the edge from falling over and can help bring them back from the brink of disaster.
As Martin Luther King Jr. statedl “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
The economic fallout of social distancing will impact us all, but it is particularly threatening already for the working class, most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society. As such, Future Leaders Bermuda is encouraging all households to consider small ways we can help to fill gaps within the community based on an awareness of our own unique privileges and capabilities.
The COVID-19 virus may be the current threat, but the true challenge in the immediate aftermath will be to cooperate with each other and consider our neighbours and fellow Bermudians.
These unprecedented times require all of us to adopt a community-oriented approach that recognises the unique ways we can work to support each other and maintain social cohesion as we look to the future.