Vick Hope is no stranger to helping out with charities. The presenter and journalist currently volunteers, in her local area of Hackney, for the charity Akwaaba, providing care packages and assistance with immigration casework for migrants, as well as working with larger charities such as Amnesty International UK.
Speaking on Yahoo video series, Up Close And Socially Distant, Vick said that as well as helping out others in more need than yourself, volunteering can be so good for your soul, especially during times like this.
“It's better than doing nothing, and to help out where you can, because we are a community,” she told host Kate Thornton.
“I can understand that psychologically, mentally [lockdown] takes its toll on your soul for everyone. My advice would be to reach out. Look for ways that you can reach out.
“You can help with phone campaigns. Maybe you could help with a mutual aid. I know there's lots of COVID mutual aid groups for every different local community, and usually there's signposts for them all over the streets. There's so many ways that you can raise money as well.”
Unfortunately, lockdown has changed the way charities are working with those in need, but Vick says thankfully there is a way around it and she’s still been personally able to help those refugees who seek help via the charity Akwaaba.
She said: “Since the lockdown we've not been able to run our usual session and the social drop-in that we have, so instead we've tried to adapt the service that we provide to still support these families.”
For Vick this has involved grocery shopping for families, providing the children with toys and books, while also helping out with their paperwork. She said this is an incredibly scary time for refugees in this country.
“A lot of them are stuck in the middle of a system that has been put on pause, but that's incredibly anxiety inducing,” she explained.
“If you don't know whether you're going to be deported on the other side of this, or if you're going to still have a home, or you're going to be sent to another city by your council, because a lot of refugee families get passed council to council.”
She continued: “A lot of them are destitute or near destitute. Some of them don't have their papers, so if they were to ask for support elsewhere, they might be deported or detained.”
Vick is also involved in the Amnesty UK International campaign to transform the Domestic Abuse Bill to protect migrants against domestic abuse, and says it has made her realise how lucky she is to feel safe in her own home during this period of lockdown.
“From work I've been doing recently with Refuge, we found that the number of domestic abuse murders since the beginning of lockdown has doubled, which is an insane figure,” she told Kate.
“For those of us who have a safe space to call home, we can come home. We can lock down – and it's a bit annoying, but at least we can stay here – but imagine if you're going home to an abuser, and you're putting yourself into a position where your life is even more in danger? What a frightening situation to be in.”
The former Strictly contestant said that refugees in camps are not faring much better during the pandemic, and that she’s doing what she can to help raise funds for them by taking part in Choose Love’s Around The World in 40 Days challenge.
“People living in refugee camps currently do not have access to the healthcare that they need during a pandemic,” she said.
“Often washing your hands in clean water is not even an option, so self-isolation is nigh on impossible, so we’re just trying to raise money to try and support those people to improve conditions and to help out where we can.”
Helping local communities and those who are vulnerable is one thing that Vick hopes will continue long after the pandemic is over.
“I feel like at this time we realise more than ever that we need one another,” she told Kate. “I hope we never go back from this.
“You never know when the tables will turn, so I think we should all just be kind to one another. It's really as simple as that.”
If you are experiencing domestic abuse, call the 24-hour and free National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
To find out more about Akwaaba visit: https://akwaaba.org.uk
To find out more about Amnesty International UK visit: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/
Take part in the Around The World in 40 Days challenge at: https://helprefugees.org
Up Close And Socially Distant is hosted by Kate Thornton and features weekly video catch-ups with people who are all doing whatever they can to help those around them get through lockdown.
This week Kate speaks to presenter and broadcaster Vick Hope about her work helping refugees in her local area, nationwide and overseas, to Oasis food bank and debt advice centre manager Rebekah Gibson, and to BBC Radio One DJ Arielle Free on how she’s been helping families shake off the stresses of lockdown and home-schooling by hosting Kid’s Kitchen Raves.