OXFORD University students facing the coronavirus lockdown are co-ordinating efforts to help people isolated by the spread of the virus.

Students Against Corona is a campaign set up less than 24 hours ago by students at Oxford University who want to help deliver food parcels, carry out errands, or be available to speak to anyone feeling lonely.

The group is the first in a rapidly growing network of university students across the world who are pledging to do the same under a united banner.

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Other early groups have been set up in Loughborough, Dublin and Utrecht, with more in Canada, the USA and Uruguay expected to follow suit.

In less than 24 hours since it was created, 229 people have already joined the Students Against Corona Facebook group.

Frederik Filz von Reiterdank, 23, is one of the Oxford University students who set up the group.

He said: “What we are hearing is that people are affected in a lot more ways by this coronavirus than we originally thought.”

Oxford Mail:

Frederik Filz von Reiterdank

The post-graduate software engineering student added his own grandmother in the Netherlands had experienced trouble with food deliveries, and he wanted to prevent that happening to other people.

He added: “This is only going to get worse over the next few months, so we are trying to get a network of people in place before that happens.”

So far, the group has been posting leaflets through letterboxes telling people what help it can provide.

Mr von Reiterdank said he and other volunteers were trying to learn from the mistakes of other group efforts by making sure to practice proper hygiene, with medical advice from NHS staff he has contacted.

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In the Oxford Against Corona Facebook group, he outlined a set of steps volunteers should take if they wanted to help.

This included bringing hand sanitiser on visits to neighbours, not engaging in personal contact, and working in teams of two for safeguarding reasons.

Anyone with the symptoms of coronavirus – a dry cough and high temperature – is ruled out from helping, to avoid spreading the virus.

Ifigenia Xifre, one of the student volunteers said she thought it was important to help those suffering most during the crisis.

She said: “This crisis may end up having catastrophic effects not only on people’s mental and physical health, but also on their economic well-being. We are convinced that it is our responsibility to help flatten the curve by making it possible for people at risk to stay home - and if possible lighten their burden by assisting them with the simple tasks they won’t be able to perform on their own at this time.”

Fellow volunteer Kokulan Mahendiran said in only two days, students had pooled their time and resources to start a ‘concrete movement’.

He added: When first thinking about how to go about doing this a few days ago, I was most concerned about not doing more harm than good. The fact that Frederick had already gotten medical professionals on board to help guide us, and all future volunteers, has been vital in allowing us to move forward responsibly.”

More information about Students Against Corona can be found at studentsagainstcorona.co.uk or by joining the Facebook group StudentsAgainstCorona.

The Oxford group can be found by searching for OxfordAgainstCorona