“We all want to help to the best of our ability”

Marc, Patrick and Nader Created essential tools to prevent the virus from spreading. Malta, Ireland and Italy

Europe needed all its bright minds in these troubled times, and seeing how promptly they came up with great ideas is astonishing. The University of Malta for instance, devised a prototype unit to disinfect respirators. “The machines are relatively simple to build, low-cost and can be quickly built in large numbers,” Marc explains.

In a suffering Italy, hospitals received much appreciated help from Nader and his 3D-printing start-up. The team turned snorkelling masks into PAP masks and delivered these, along with face shields, across the country.

Help also came in Ireland, where Patrick had been distilling whiskey and gin. “When we learned that sanitizers were out of stock in the Northwest of Ireland, we shifted our production. We supplied sanitizers to pharmacies, medics, shops and charities,” he recalls.

Thanks to all these efforts, the EU can focus on the production of vaccines and preparedness for future outbreaks, to which it has dedicated a total of EUR 314 million.

“I'm doing this for my mother and all mothers who've been scared and isolated over this time”

Melanie, Daniel, Anni and Marios Went over and above the call of duty to help fellow doctors and patients during the crisis Malta, Finland, Cyprus

COVID-19 showed us how doctors across Europe would do anything to help in these difficult times. The first thing they could offer was their knowledge. In Malta, Melanie produced a series of videos explaining concepts constantly discussed in the news but rarely explained in detail. In one of her videos, the specialist cardiologist explains terms such as “flattening the curve” in understandable terms for everyone. In Finland, Anni used Instagram to answer people’s questions and she quickly amassed 25 000 followers. Meanwhile, Daniel (Gozo) and Marios (Cyprus) took meaningful actions to help fellow workers on the front line. Daniel used his Facebook account to thank everyone who donated food and supported frontliners including him as a nurse. Marios took to Facebook to announce he was coming out of retirement to resume his medical career and his heartfelt reasons for doing so. He’s not the only one who did so: many Members of the European Parliament did the same thing for the duration of the outbreak.

“It's amazing to see how happy people get from being part of something bigger”

Márton, Rafel and Raluca Ensure food is available for those most in need Malta, Hungary, Romania

In adversity, Europe has found many everyday heroes. Rafel, Márton, and Raluca all qualify for such a title. Rafel and Márton are both chefs, Rafel owns and Márton runs a restaurant. Rafel brought back the wartime concept of the “Victory kitchen” to prepare daily meals for Malta’s most vulnerable people while in Hungary Márton came up with #Etesdadokit – feed the doctor. Raluca, who is President of Romanian NGO Geeks for Democracy, organised the delivery of groceries and medicines all across the country. “What amazes me is the strength we found in numbers”, says Rafel. “Together everything becomes possible”.

“We take the safety of our passengers, drivers and support staff very seriously”

Mario, Marthese and Joseph Guarantee safe trips for passengers and employees alike Malta, Qormi

Taking a bus in the middle of a pandemic might make some people anxious. But maybe not so much the regulars of the Malta Public Transport network. “We take the safety of our passengers, drivers, and support staff very seriously,” say Mario, Marthese, and Joseph. Just like all staff at Malta Public Transport, these three employees kept working to help those who had no choice but to rely on public transport for important trips. They had to adapt to a new routine and did so conscientiously. “We started with the ‘no change policy’ under which passengers buying tickets on the bus need to pay the exact amount. No standing passengers are allowed on buses, and we clean them thoroughly, multiple times every day.” All employees of the Malta Public Transport in contact with the public systematically receive hand sanitizers and face masks, while passengers must wear a face mask or a visor whilst waiting for the bus and when on board the bus. Protective screens have also been installed on the whole fleet to protect both drivers and passengers.

“The Covid pandemic has shown me how adaptable we all are”

Casa Antonia Offers optimum care services to older persons Malta, Balzan

Casa Antonia is a private nursing and residential home situated in Balzan, Malta. Since the 18th of March, 115 staff have been living and working within their premises in three week shifts. This includes care assistants, nurses, cooks, cleaners, maintenance men, a gardener and management staff. As such, Casa Antonia is now providing housing, food, laundry, water, electricity, and internet for 70 extra people every day. Employees have adapted immensely well to this surreal situation, living away from their families for long periods of time. Many have never before lived within a community and now find themselves sharing living quarters with colleagues from all over the world and working longer hours. The challenge of living at work has brought out so many talents in the employees. The kitchen staff have learnt to cook Asian style food to help lift the spirits of their Asian colleagues and maintenance staff are DJing to residents in the evening to keep them entertained.

“Everybody must do their part”

Mark Ensures that everyone has fresh food provisions Malta, San Pawl il bahar

Mark breeds sheep and produces traditional Maltese food products. He decided to help fight in this silent war by restricting farm access to visitors while continuing to produce food, an essential service in these difficult times. He has been dedicating more time to distributing fresh produce door-to-door to vulnerable members of the community, as they are often unable to leave their homes and at risk of going hungry. His posts on social media allow anyone lacking food to contact him, and he then works out a way to get the produce to them. Working closely with his son in these efforts, he has been proud to see other farmers in Malta and Gozo showing solidarity in similar ways. Farmers across the continent are working hard to keep feeding Europe, despite the difficulties they face. The European Union will continue to support farmers and food producers, collaborate with member states, and take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the health and well-being of the people of Europe.

“Our mission: feeding frontline heroes”

Saviour and Daniel Provided meals for hospital staff Malta, Balzan

The Bottarga Gourmet Fish Shop in Malta is proud to take responsibility for making sure frontline hospital staff are well fed. They have volunteered their time to prepare meals for personnel at Mater Dei hospital. The chefs see this as their way of contributing to efforts against the pandemic and of showing their appreciation for those putting themselves at risk to help the sick. All over Europe, people are using their skills and resources to support our healthcare heroes.

“Bringing people together is more important than ever”

Zoe, Vegard, Keit and Niels Produced a lockdown festival allowing artists to perform and audiences to enjoy cultural activities from their homes Malta, Valletta

The current crisis has caused many events to be postponed or entirely cancelled. Zoe, Vegard, Keit and Niels from Malta created a Lockdown Festival to let artists keep performing to an audience, even if online and at a distance. These events are a vital lifeline for our communities, when many people feel isolated in their homes. Cultural events can raise people's spirits and create a sense of belonging, so the Festival's team is now working to create a permanent space for online events.

The cultural and creative sector is made up of many individual creators and SMEs, as well as charities. Their status often makes it harder for them to qualify for national or EU support schemes. To make sure EU funds reach the sector, MEPs are asking the Commission to consider increasing the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Facility (Creative Europe programme) by topping it up from the 2021 budget, or transferring funds from the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

“Together we can better combat coronavirus”

Chef Dario Creates relationships with other businesses to support front line workers Malta, Kirkop

The catering industry and restaurants are being heavily impacted by COVID-19. To counteract this issue, Chef Dario set up the NGO Feeding Heroes Malta, which runs solely on public donations and his own contacts. Through the organisation, he has worked to decrease food waste and support chefs who were left unemployed. He started collecting unwanted food from restaurants, raw material from suppliers, and sourced professional chefs from closed restaurants to cook meals. The operation has been a great asset to mobilise the community and create innovative, sustainable solutions in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Storytelling transports us beyond the four walls we're stuck in”

Marija Brings joy and imagination to children Malta, Mtarfa

Staying at home is challenging for all members of the family, including the youngest among us. To create some light relief, a group of five women came together to bring joy and imagination to children through storytelling. They set up a Facebook page called "My Storytime" to read a selection of stories and poetry in English and Maltese for audiences of different ages. While the readers record themselves, the founders take care of all the backstage work including editing, scheduling, answering queries, and recruiting more readers. The response has been phenomenal, with close to 4,300 people following the page since it launched on March 23. Share your creative ways to inspire others during the COVID-19 crisis using #EuropeansAgainstCovid19.