COVID-19 changed the way in which we do many things.
Whether it is the way in which we celebrate birthdays or the day-to-day operations of any organisation, the pandemic has required everyone to be creative, innovative, flexible, and patient.
This is particularly true for Lead Advocacy Group members of RESULTS Australia. As grassroots advocates, we lead campaign actions by engaging with relevant and strategic members of parliament (MPs) and Senators in our own State/Territory. We also organise various opportunities to engage with the media and our community to raise awareness about ending global poverty. Prior to COVID-19, our campaigns heavily relied on face-to-face meetings and engagement. With the sudden isolation and health concerns, we’ve had to quickly adapt.
Luckily for RESULTS advocates, MPs and Senators kindly accepted virtual meeting requests and provided us an opportunity to request their support in our goal to end global poverty. However, the emerging #EndCOVIDforAll campaign required support from more than just our political leaders. This campaign recognises that while Australians are extremely fortunate in their ability to respond to the virus, many of our global neighbours are far worse off. RESULTS advocates joined forces with leaders in healthcare to advocate for the Australian Government to address the worst impacts of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable nations and communities. To truly demonstrate to the government just how crucial Australia’s support is, RESULTS advocates needed to inspire the public to support this mission.
We knew that connecting with our communities in a time of isolation would be challenging. Social media feeds were saturated with news and updates, with many people completely tuning out the constant flow of information. We knew that everyone around us was impacted by the pandemic in some way and that it would be difficult for our message to be heard through the sea of struggles. All of these obstacles, however, made us realise one thing – we are all in this together no matter where in the world we may be.
Understanding that everyone was facing challenges while feeling isolated and saturated in information sparked an idea on how to support our communities while sharing our message regarding the #EndCOVIDforAll campaign. We needed to bring people together to remind them that no one is alone during these unprecedented times and to use that connection to inspire support for this important cause.
I joined a small group of several RESULTS members located across the country to develop a plan on how best to bring people together. Many of us in this group were meeting for only the first time and having the opportunity to slowly get to know one another was strangely exciting after months of isolation. The conversations were sparkly and new in a time when everything felt routine and mundane. We never left our own home while brainstorming the event, but it felt extremely refreshing to meet with new people. It was bringing us together while the world was forced to stay apart.
We wanted to bring this energy and realisation to the #EndCOVIDforAll event. Our excitement inspired us to plan a virtual painting night where we could introduce the campaign but focus heavily on bringing everyone together for the chance to connect with new people for the first time in months. We wanted it to be a night that was as much about supporting each other as it was about supporting our global neighbours. The preceding weeks had us practicing our spiels and assigning roles throughout the night. We practised utilising Zoom’s breakout rooms and made sure someone would be able to respond to chat questions throughout the event. We shared the event on social media but were also excited to directly invite our friends and family across the country. The event was so much more than a chance to discuss the important campaign, it was an exciting opportunity for everyone to engage with something new.
By the time the event ended, the dozens of participants experienced firsthand how connectedness and solidarity are human nature and that we as humans thrive when being supported by others. Though many of those in attendance had previously heard about the campaign from a RESULTS advocate, seeing the impact of solidarity painted the importance of the campaign in a whole new light.
COVID-19 may have changed the way in which we interact with each other, but it certainly hasn’t changed our ability to support one another.
After completing a Bachelor of Science in health communications and sociology, Brittany began her career working with health clinics serving marginalised populations. Her passion for addressing the social determinants of health led her to pursue a Master of Public Health degree. In 2020, Brittany joined RESULTS Australia to advocate for breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health across the globe.