Tips to support your community amid the pandemic

The happenings around us look like we are stuck in the middle of an apocalyptic movie, except for the fact that this is real. And no superheroes are coming to save us but common citizens who are coming together from different parts of the country with the same intent- Save Humanity!

Over the last few weeks, as you would have seen several communities have come forward and created discussion forums/threads for members to support each other with covid relief requests. Many community builders and volunteers are continuously working to provide 24×7 support to requests coming from their fellow community members for plasma, beds, oxygen, medicines, etc. According to Facebook and NYU’s GovLab report, ‘The Power of Virtual Communities,’ 91% of the respondents globally claimed that they were able to extend support to local citizens via online communities. This support included making groceries available to vulnerable residents during the lockdown, distribution of vital and verified information from health authorities, extending financial support to local businesses, etc.

While these are definitely some great ways communities can support people, today more than ever, people are seeking spaces where they can be real, vulnerable, and most importantly, be heard.

Here are some tips from the LikeMinds Community team on how you can emotionally support your community members during these tough times:

  • Check-in with Community Members during meetups  – Spend 10-15 mins of your community meetups to check in with your members. You can start with questions like – “How are you feeling today?” / “How has your week been?”. This way you can lend an ear to your members and give them safe spaces to be vulnerable together. Being there to listen to one another as a community is powerful and the first step towards community emotional help.
  • The Hope Thread  – You can start discussion threads in your community that give people a chance to reflect on the little happy and positive moments from their life. In a world where our social media feeds are filled with unfortunate news, your community can be a space for members to find hope and feel sane. A couple of such thread examples could include –
    • Share something that’s giving you hope this week – images, gifs, videos everything’s welcomed with warm hearts here.”
    • “Tag a person who’s helped/inspired you from this community. Let’s use this thread for telling them how awesome they are.”
    • “What’s the one song that’s giving you strength this week?”
    • “Scroll through your phone gallery and pick a picture of anything that tells a story about you. A couple of examples could include sharing snaps of your pet, a favourite show, last trip / a new skill you acquired.”
  • Mental Health Polls  – Given the lockdown and the flurry of depressing news worldwide, you can conduct mental health polls to understand your community’s overall mental health condition. These poll results could be used to analyze and track the different emotions flowing in your community, which in turn can help you pick and choose the right mental health sessions/training for your community.
  • Anonymous posts – Not everyone would be comfortable sharing their stories in public. You could pin a Google / Type Form for your community members to vent out their emotions anonymously. Later, you could anonymously share these stories for other members to relate, empathize and support those experiences.
  • Virtual Prayer Meets – Everyone is losing someone or the other in this pandemic. You could host a virtual prayer meet for your community to pray together for the peace of the deceased souls. This can be a good way of extending support to members who have lost their near and dear ones.
  • Partnerships with Mental Health Communities / Advocates – This is also a good time for you to explore community partnerships with mental health communities/advocates.  You could collaborate with them for hosting sessions/training. You could also share the results of mental health polls from your community and brainstorm with them on how you can better emotionally support your members during this pandemic.

There are many other things that you can do to empower your community members during the pandemic – which are beyond the scope of these tips. These are testing times for all of us. We hope that you stay safe and take care of your community.