As the world battles with Covid-19 and we all get to grips with self-quarantine and social distancing, many people are wondering what more they can do to help. Other than following vital government guidance and staying at home, it’s heartening to see that there are now multiple schemes to help, including the recently launched NHS Responders scheme and local volunteer groups.
Another way to show solidarity with your local community? Supporting small businesses in your area, most of which have had to close their doors due to this crisis. Many of these businesses have already changed – or are in the process of changing – how they offer their services at this time, moving to online models and contact-free deliveries.
Although the government has put measures in place to offer financial support for business owners and their employees, you can also do your bit to support your favourite local establishments without leaving your home. Here’s how:
1. Check whether local restaurants are now offering delivery
Even local restaurants that don’t usually deliver are moving to a delivery model to reach all their self-quarantining customers. While this may not bring them the same level of business, it can still bring in some income to get through this period. If you’re able to, take a night off from cooking and order some grub from local restaurants and cafes. Can’t see your favourite restaurant on Deliveroo or Uber Eats? Give the restaurant a call to see whether they’re delivering directly at this time.
To be extra safe, pay online or over the phone using your card rather than handling cash. If you’re unwell or in a high-risk group, ask for contact-free delivery so the delivery person can just leave the food at your door.
2. Take part in live stream classes
While there’s nothing like a live gym class with the trainer egging you on, many gyms and local studios are dealing with their physical sites being closed by offering the next best thing – workout classes that you can live stream from your home. Check your favourite local studio’s social media channels to see whether they’re offering this option yet. And then get your sweat on from the comfort (and privacy) of your living room.
3. Connect with video chats
Video calling apps aren’t just for working from home. You can also use video chat to engage with other types of local businesses that you can’t currently physically interact with. Catch up with your accountant on Zoom, get a lesson from your language teacher on Skype or have a yoga session with your instructor on Google Hangouts.
4. Give them some social media love
With all of us at home, we’re spending more time on social media (yes, even more than before). If you weren’t previously following your favourite local businesses online, now’s the time to do it. Their social media channels are where they’ll be posting updates on any new services they’re offering online. Engage with their content, hit that like button and share messages of appreciation. Spread the word about your favourite local businesses to get them new followers and fans.
While this may not help pay their bills immediately, it’s still a way to show support at an uncertain time.
5. Buy vouchers, gift cards or merchandise
While we’re all staying firmly put for now, we’ll be more than ready to go out when it’s safe to do so. Why not treat your future self (or your friends or family) by getting a gift card for an experience or a voucher from your favourite local business? Not only will this give you something to look forward to, but it can also help them with cash flow at this tough time.
Has an independent business turned to promoting their merchandise to get them through? If so, grab that branded tee/tote/water bottle to support.
6. Check in on any small business owners you know
We can’t underestimate the effect that this crisis is having on everyone’s mental health. This includes the stress and anxiety for business owners trying to deal with keeping their company afloat and taking care of their employees. Know anyone in this situation? Give them a call and simply ask if there’s anything you can do to help. At times like these, even just chatting through problems can help lift a bit of strain and stress.
7. Try to reschedule events or experiences instead of getting refunds
With all events on hold for the foreseeable future, businesses in this industry are seeing daily cancellations. If you can, try postponing your upcoming event and rescheduling with the same event space and suppliers. This gives businesses more hope than a full-on cancellation. And it gives you something to continue to plan for and look forward to.
8. Leave online reviews
We’re well aware that not everyone will be able to support small businesses at this financially tough time. But just a few kind words can make a huge difference. We all tend to put off writing reviews, but now would be the right time to vocalise your love for your favourite local business with a positive online review.
9. Order online from local shops where possible
Let’s face it, the major supermarket players are busy enough at the moment. Got a small local retailer near you that can get you your household essentials? Check whether they’re now available online and support them by ordering through their website or Deliveroo.
Spending online more frequently? Keep your online payments secure and in one place by adding your cards to Curve, now equipped with 3D Secure 2 for safer spending. With Curve, you’ll also receive instant notifications every time you spend, making it easy for you to keep on top of your finances.