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The COVID-19 has had an overwhelming affect on all of our lives. It has been fantastic to see the response of everyone doing their bit to #StayHome and flatten the curve, thus helping the vulnerable and our dedicated and selfless medical workers. However, the blow dealt to many small local businesses without the reserves and resources that larger businesses have at their disposal has been significant.

Yet out of this crisis a sense of community, ingenuity and adaptability has sprung! We have seen customers staying loyal to their local stores and restaurants, continuing to shop or order takeaway and we have seen businesses change their entire business plans to cope. It has been incredibly inspiring, and at Parson’s Nose we are so grateful for the continued support of our fantastic customers and that we are able to help in some way during the uncertainty and upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic.

One such example of community has been the local initiative, Keeping Fulham Afloat (@keeping_fulham_afloat). KFA is an online community founded by Annabel Lock, a local Primary School Teacher, aiming to raise awareness about local Fulham businesses and community efforts to help both residents and businesses deal with the effects of lockdown.

Annabel has lived in London for the past five years, and Fulham for two, during which time she has become very involved in the community. Teaching at a school in Stockwell to a number of underprivileged children is one example of Annabel’s dedication to helping others and making a difference to people’s lives in a positive way.

We were able to speak to Annabel to find out more about Keeping Fulham Afloat, the inspiration behind it, what it aims to accomplish, as well as her advice to others at this unprecedented time.

1. Why did you decide to start Keeping Fulham Afloat?

On Monday I found out from my school that I wouldn't be at work for the whole of April. At first this was a real blow for me, as we have 100 children who are eligible to remain at coming school, but only 15 have turned up. I was expecting to go back to work as normal full time. Once I realised I would have a lot of time off, I started to think of ways I could keep busy and support people. A friend of mine has set up a similar page for Dorset so I thought I would do the same for Fulham. I have been amazed by the response I've had; people are so willing to help and I've never experienced such a level of community.

2. What does Keeping Fulham Afloat aim to accomplish?

Keeping Fulham Afloat is set out to provide a source of information for the community! Information on food supply, fitness opportunities, homeschool education ideas and lines of support for the local people. Hand in hand with this, it is a platform for local businesses to freely advertise what they can offer. I feel that in this time we can all support each other and we all have a part to play. For me, I am just happy I can keep myself busy and help people at the same time!

3. What has been one of the most creative adaptations you’ve seen from businesses in response to the coronavirus situation?

I think a lot of food businesses have thrived in the best way they can: by offering deliveries. One particular company that I have seen doing this is Dinner Ladies. They are an events-based company that have been heavily affected by restrictions as they are no longer able to run their events. Instead of being defeated, they have created an amazing food menu for delivery. My boyfriend and I got corona virus last week and we were both very unwell at home. We didn't want to go to the shops to buy food at the risk of infecting others. His sister ordered us a food package from Dinner Ladies on St Patrick's Day (he’s Irish) and I was totally blown away. Homemade Irish stew, chocolate Guinness cupcakes, homemade hummus, soup, eggs, homemade (still warm) Irish soda bread and much much more. It is creative adaptations to business, such as this, that helps support the community, as well as keeping business alive! Joe Wicks has also made the most of this situation by an amazing adaptation to his business by providing online PE sessions every day at 9am! I am sure this has supported lots of families and I have seen on his Instagram the joy he has been bringing to children all over the world.

Joe Wicks offering online PE training sessions.
Joe Wicks offering online PE training sessions.
Dinner Ladies Food and Events Company
Dinner Ladies Food and Events Company

4. What has been something that has helped you deal with the stress of lock down and quarantine?

First and foremost, my amazing friends and family. They have been really supportive during this time and are always on hand on Zoom, FaceTime or Houseparty for a chat. The Keeping Fulham Afloat page has kept me busy and given me joy in seeing the happiness my support is bringing to others. I also have my trusty adult mindfulness colouring book and some good relaxing music to distract me from reality. Plus my gym, Transition Zone, has been really supportive and is offering live IG exercise classes so that I can keep fit. I’m trying to eat good food and not watch too much television, as it can really bog you down. Lastly this amazing weather has really helped, which sounds like something small but being able to sit in the garden in the sunshine has made me feel really positive.

5. What’s your advice to Fulham residents at this time?

Keep calm, keep busy, keep positive. Appreciate what you have around you and remember, this is only temporary. This may be the only time in your life you can have real down time, so make the most of it! I know for those parents who are homeschooling it can be really hard. But remember that teaching can be fun (I promise) and routine is the best thing I can advise for children! Take time to exercise everyday, get outside and go for a walk (whilst keeping a 2m distance). The river walk is beautiful, especially at the end of the day as the sun is setting. Feel lucky to have a community as supportive and thriving as Fulham.

Some of our favourite things on KFA have to be Drink of Fulham’s (@drinkoffulham) drink delivery service and Ceril Campbell’s Fulham Daily Chat Group, offering support with mental well being and lifestyle image and change.

We want to say a huge thank you to Annabel and Keeping Fulham Afloat for the positivity and connection in an otherwise isolated time, as it’s things like this that will really make the difference in getting through this difficult period.

Our suggestion for the weekend? Just as Annabel rightly says, make sure you enjoy the down time and take some time for yourself. We, of course, recommend doing this with a homecooked Parson’s Nose steak and a glass of wine, but choose whatever works for you!

Wishing everyone a safe couple of weeks and please keep supporting your local businesses, and each other.

The Parson’s Nose Team

Annabel Lock, founder of Keeping Fulham Afloat
Annabel Lock, founder of Keeping Fulham Afloat