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Happy List 2021: Meet five Covid heroes who are making a difference this year

Emma Ledger
·4-min read
<p> Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP in Newham, helped boost uptake of immunisations during Covid</p> (Rankin)

Dr Farzana Hussain, a GP in Newham, helped boost uptake of immunisations during Covid

(Rankin)

For most of us, our greatest contribution to protecting humankind during the biggest health crisis of our lifetime has been to stay at home and trudge through mediocre Netflix films. But for many, the term ‘relentless’ barely covers the last 12 months. During the darkest days countless volunteers, medical professionals, entrepreneurs and general do-gooders have rallied to help protect the vulnerable in a tsunami of goodwill and genius initiatives. Here are just a few of those who deserve recognition:

Peter Paduh

As a child refugee Peter Paduh’s life was transformed when he received a laptopPaduh
As a child refugee Peter Paduh’s life was transformed when he received a laptopPaduh

After arriving in Britain as a child from the war-torn Balkans in the 1990s, refugee Peter Paduh’s life was transformed when he received a free second hand laptop. During lockdown SocialBox.Biz founder Peter has helped hundreds of people to stay connected by sourcing and distributing laptops, partnering with charities such as Age UK London and the Refugee Support Network. He said “many people who previously relied on human contact were left isolated. From older people in care homes and to refugees, hundreds of thousands are in need. Our initiative provides computers to empower vulnerable disadvantaged people to gain access to the internet, to enable and to promote the principle of self-determination via the access to internet.”

Dr Farzana Hussain

Photographer Rankin shot Dr Farzana Hussein as part of his series celebrating NHS heroesRankin
Photographer Rankin shot Dr Farzana Hussein as part of his series celebrating NHS heroesRankin

As a result of Covid-19, child immunisation rates quickly dropped sharply where Dr Farzana Hussain works as a GP in Newham, East London. It was clear that parents had concerns about bringing babies into the surgery, and there were also workforce issues to consider, as 80% of the surgery staff are BAME. Given the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME groups, Dr Hussein wanted to keep face to face time to a minimum. In response, the surgery’s front garden was set up as a ‘drive-through’ clinic for immunisations - but instead of cars, buggies and prams were classed as vehicles. This reduced immunisation consultation time to just two minutes, helping to keep both patients and staff safe, and boosting levels immunisation.

Lizzy Hall

Driven by a belief that everyone deserves to feel clean and dignified, Lizzy set up The Hygiene BankLizzy Hall
Driven by a belief that everyone deserves to feel clean and dignified, Lizzy set up The Hygiene BankLizzy Hall

“Long before people first go to a foodbank they stop buying toiletries,” explains former marketer Lizzy Hall, who started her own charity, The Hygiene Bank and has delivered more than 400,000kg of goods to those in need. “The demand has been remarkable. Before Covid-19 over 14 million people in the UK were living in poverty, a third of whom were going without hygiene products. Unfortunately, we know the numbers of individuals experiencing poverty will increase due to the knock-on effects of the crisis. Adding essential personal and household hygiene products to food parcels is a great way to combine efforts to ensure those who would otherwise go without have both enough food to eat and hygiene products to keep clean.”

Chris Sands

Chris Sands developed Totally Locally to help local shops and businessesChris Sands
Chris Sands developed Totally Locally to help local shops and businessesChris Sands

Marketing expert Chris Sands developed Totally Locally, a marketing strategy for local shops and businesses, which has helped thousands of businesses stay afloat during the crisis. It offers a free-to-download plan, including help with ideas such as click-and-collect, which led to some businesses enjoying their busiest ever trading time despite the pandemic. The plan has breathed life into trading communities in cities and commuter towns, offering a lifeline for small enterprises and enacting positive social change which many hope will survive long after coronavirus.

Melissa Tilling

Charitable Travel is the first kind of give-while-you-holiday iniatiativeMelissa Tilling
Charitable Travel is the first kind of give-while-you-holiday iniatiativeMelissa Tilling

Founder of Charitable Travel, which was launched last year as the pandemic hit, Melissa’s initiative is the first of its kind in the UK. Its mission is to help consumers combine travel and philanthropy by enabling them to donate 5% of the payment for their holiday to a charity of their choice. Booking holidays will one day (soon) be a regular part of life again, and Charitable Travel is a social enterprise itself, with a legally committed social purpose, meaning people who use it can be assured that every penny of profit and everything the company does supports charity fundraising and good causes.

About The Happy List

The Happy List was founded by The Independent in 2008 as an antidote to the lists that celebrate status and big bank balances. Instead, it honours the great Britons doing extraordinary things for others with no thought of personal gain, and who often go largely unnoticed and unrewarded. You can see last year’s Happy List here. Nominations for this year’s Happy List will open later this spring.