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Volunteering, ventilators, and applause; positivity in the face of lockdown isolation

Despite all the bad news stories that have come out in the last month, there are still some reasons to be optimistic


11 April 2020 08:37 PM


ACN | Barcelona

After a month of living under lockdown in Catalonia, things are difficult for everyone. Headlines are tough to read, with each updated figure providing a new blow to the country in the middle of one of the biggest global disasters in living memory. 

However, not all is in despair, as we have seen plenty of examples of strength and solidarity from people coming together to help each other out in these most trying of circumstances. 

As well as solidarity and the community spirit shown by the population, people are finding creative ways to keep themselves occupied. 

Sales of flour have multiplied by four in the third week of lockdown, as residents are making the use of the extra time at home to hone their baking skills. Making bread, cakes, pizza dough, or anything else with flour can be a therapeutic way to spend some time, not to mention the delicious treats to be enjoyed after the fact. 

Elsewhere in businesses, some shops in the Barcelona neighbourhoods of Poble Sec and Paral·lel have set up a network to get supplies for at-risk customers in the area. 

Vulnerable neighbours can phone and order their shopping, with volunteers delivering their order according to a series of safety protocols. The head of the Association of Shopkeepers of Poble-sec and Paral·lel, Manel Tort, says "the response has been spectacular."

Further impressive volunteering efforts have been seen in northern Catalonia, with a dress maker in the Costa Brava region putting out a call out to social media looking for help fabricating cloth face masks for people and healthcare professionals. 

Conchi Morales, expected only a handful of responses, but instead thousands of people were willing to give a hand. Her group made 1,000 units of the protective facial gear in one morning alone, and have since then been donated surgical material that can be made into washable and reusable face masks. The group have gone on to make thousands more. 

"There are healthcare workers who take care of us, and we want to take care of them," Morales said.

And these are just a few examples of many of the altruism and consideration that people are showing for each other during these challenging times. 

Companies doing their bit

With all non-essential business stopped in the country in order to reduce mobility and ensure social distancing, many factories across Catalonia are closed, with their facilities going unused for an indefinite period of time. 

Some have thought of better ways to put these resources to use. Companies like GPA Innova and Protofy have created designs to fabricate ventilators, increasing the capacity of intensive care units across the country and the world. 

Their designs have been picked up by firms with large factories, such as car manufacturers Seat and industrial designers MAM, and are creating new ventilators to be delivered to hospitals. Seat have already begun production, and aim to make 300 of the units every day, while MAM hope to be able to fabricate 1,000 a week. 

3D printing companies are also helping the cause. Their business model provides a very unique advantage to helping in the fight against coronavirus, in that 3D printing can produce whatever designs are inputted into the system, as opposed to Seat and MAM manually transforming their operations to create a new machine. 

A public-private partnership will see the production of 50-100 ventilators, which are instrumental for ICUs: Catalonia's health minister, Alba Vergés, said that the Leitat 1 3D printed prototype was designed "in record-breaking time." She added that the project will breathe "fresh air" into the health system.

Online music festivals streamed

During these strange quarantine days, musicians also have the desire to play for audiences, as much as fans want to be at concerts and experience live performances. Thus, some initiatives have been born for this reason, and to provide relief and a way to fight boredom while stuck at home. 

Festivals such as the Yo Me Quedo En Casa Festival ("I’m Staying At Home Festival") and the Cuarentena Fest ("Quarantine Fest") have offered people some live music streamed directly to everyone’s homes, and perhaps even more importantly, a shared community experience at a time they hard practically impossible to come by. 

The Cuarentena Fest, which started with artists from Catalonia and Spain, has now even travelled to other continents, with many South American countries holding their own versions, with the rest of the world tuning in.

Celebrities too are doing their best to lighten spirits, posting challenges on social media. These serve the dual purpose of keeping people somewhat entertained, but more importantly to remind people of the importance of washing hands, staying at home as much as possible, and that it is the duty of everybody in society to play their part to defeat the Covid-19 coronavirus. 

Added to that, Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola are two examples of famous people who have made huge financial contributions to hospitals and foundations in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. 

Nightly applause

The biggest heroes in this crisis are undoubtedly the healthcare workers on the front lines of this virus, putting their own safety and lives at risk to treat patients and help shield the rest of society from further spread. 

So many accounts of medical professionals' experiences have appeared on social media, working long hours in gruelling conditions, just to keep the rest of us healthy and safe.

Every evening from 8 pm, people across the country go out onto their balconies or out their front doors and take a few moments to applaud these workers and thank them for their monumental efforts. Some health professionals, from Hospital Clínic in the center of Barcelona for example, have thanked the public for their displays of appreciation.



  • Two Red Cross volunteers deliver food to a woman unable to leave her home in Blanes, April 9, 2020 (by Aleix Freixas)

  • Two Red Cross volunteers deliver food to a woman unable to leave her home in Blanes, April 9, 2020 (by Aleix Freixas)