Coronavirus Outbreak: How the NPA Communities Cope with this Situation #2
In March of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak hit Europe. Everyday life right now is very confused and uncertain, and the virus affects everybody somehow. Here is the second part of the interview about the partner cities and their fight with the COVID-19.
Karina Šenveter from Maribor
In Slovenia, the number of coronavirus cases is still rising every day, it has not reached its peak yet. The measures are stricter by the week, for now we are not in a strict quarantine but we have a prohibition of movement outside the municipality and were advised to stay at home. All public life has been shutt down, public institutions, public transport etc. People are constantly adapting to increasing measures and the majority of people in the Municipality of Maribor are respecting them. Our local authority is doing great job implementing financial measures to help residents (reducing the price of the medicine, exemption from rent for the use of business premises, exemption from the payment of parking fees, assistance to associations operating in the field of sports etc.) and is actively cooperating with local organisations in the field of social support (providing assistance and organizing volunteer assistance at various levels, home care issues, meals for schoolchildren from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged families). There is also a great reaction of local communities in terms of volunteering actions (distribution of meals, free transport, support to disadvantaged people, elderlies...).
We can help in two ways: Through social media with blog or video communication, to keep company to people that are alone, sharing positive approach, advising people how to cope with the situation, give suggestions what we can do at home to keep our minds busy (f.e. recipes, workouts), give ideas on things to do with children while at home. Also, with voluntary assistance for the community by supporting local authorities/civil protection in the emergency.
As far as the coronavirus is concerned, Szombathely is in relatively good shape as there is a small number of people infected here. The everyday life is rather hampered by the partial curfew. The loss of jobs is also a problem, especially in catering/tourism and personal services. For the time being, the atmosphere is only moderately tense. With the progress of the pandemic, however, initiatives are emerging we could not have thought of during the project - which means that St. Martin’s spirit is indeed present in our everyday lives. You can see the list of initiatives implemented in Szombathely in the past month below:
- In response to the call of the Municipality and its institutes, almost 400 volunteers expressed their willingness to participate in the delivery of the masks ordered by the municipality as well as in keeping contact with the elderly, doing the shopping for them and walking their dogs.
- With the progress of the pandemic it is becoming more and more difficult to find voluntary blood donors, therefore, the Hungarian National Blood Transfusion Service is trying to plan ahead with a strong campaign in order to prevent the lack of blood later on. (Blood donation works on a fully voluntary basis in Hungary.)
- Let me carry it for you, Granny! – a call for doing the shopping at the market organised by the Municipality and the Market hall, with the aim to prevent the elderly visiting public spaces.
- #culture quarantine – online cultural performances, events, courses, and also #culture courier – short live programmes by a few local performers or artists for the residents of blocks of flats. The audience is allowed to enjoy the show strictly only from balconies and windows.
- The Saint Martin’s Cloak Foundation provides warm food for people in need at the weekends
- The Municipality opened a bank account where local companies and citizens can transfer donations. Until now 7.500.000 HUF (21.500 EUR) has been donated.
- The Municipality offers a one-time support of 100.000 HUF (300 EUR) for those losing their jobs due to the present COVID situation.
The Municipality also keeps contact with twin cities, discussing best practices of recruiting volunteers as well as prevention activities.