As the news for the Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out in some parts of the world, along with the emergence of the new, potentially more infectious strains of the virus emerge, we are now more uncertain on how exactly the pandemic will evolve in the year 2021. It is certain that the next few months will be challenging and a virus-free life is probably far off.
The past year was a reminder for humanity to stop and contemplate what life is really about. Through the lockdown, people understood that what truly matters is love and kindness in this world, and what humans truly need to do is spread positivity and come together as one. The story of a young boy from the UK may be an inspiration for all of us to unite and stand as one, even after these trial times and the coronavirus pandemic ends.
15-year-old, Ben Thornbury from Wiltshire in South West England decided to take action on his part when the coronavirus cases began to rise in March 2020. He was well aware that vulnerable residents in his area may need assistance with food and getting prescriptions delivered. Therefore, he decided to set up ‘Malmesbury Coronavirus Advice and Support’, an online platform connecting 65 local volunteers to people in need throughout the pandemic.
“I already knew how to create a website because I have my own website http://www.benthornbury.co.uk where I showcase all my volunteer work.” Thornbury said, “After my part-time job, I came home and through a free website platform called Weebly, created this website. I shared it on my local Facebook group and was blown away by how many people responded.”
Through the platform, Thornbury, with close support from his neighbor Julie Taylor and volunteers across the local area, offering a variety of services, including prescription collection, grocery shopping, dog walking, and welfare checks via telephone. Prior to the outbreak, Thornbury has been active in supporting his community through regular litter picks and local clean-up campaigns.
“80 people benefitted from my website and it was just brilliant how people were asking me questions and advice. I was like a central commander linking volunteers up with people and relaying information back and forth.” Thornbury said speaking about the response to his website, “One instance from this initiative was when a family who lived in London having relatives living here, we’re unable to get food for their relatives. Through our portal, they reached out to us and we organized a volunteer to get the relatives food and groceries, and the families were overjoyed.”
Thornbury also shared his lockdown experience mentioning that during this pandemic period, he began to speak with the people around him more and check on them.
He received recognition for his small yet impactful and selfless effort to help people, the ‘Points of Light award’ from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who wrote to him stating that by creating ‘Malmesbury Coronavirus Advice and Support’, Ben has united his community in the service of the most vulnerable as we battle together to defeat Coronavirus.
From collecting groceries to friendly phone calls that let people know they are not alone, the public-spirited young man’s work has inspired countless acts of kindness. Ben poses as an outstanding example of community-minded volunteering. He wishes to be an inspiration to others for doing more good in this world and also aims to take up work on climate-related activities and other social work. His message for the new generation and youngsters, as well as those older to him, is to be kind and helpful, no matter what. His simple story and thoughtful message may be something we can all learn from and ponder upon.
“Youngsters should start building a brighter future for the world by being inspired by other young people doing great work.” Thornbury stated, “Perhaps looking at them may help our new generation to learn and contribute towards making society a better place for all of us. Simple acts of kindness towards those whom you might not even know will make a big difference, like helping others or making others happy can really bring a positive change.”