Solidarity in times of pandemic

We have reached the end of our beyond the pandemic debates at Espai Societat Oberta! A cycle of meetings in which we have collectively thought about Human Rights in the times of Covid-19. During these weeks we have received professionals and expert voices to talk about digital rights and privacy, civil rights, digital divides, global justice and post-Covid scenarios.

On this occasion, and to close the series of meetings, we wanted to focus on solidarity initiatives that emerged during the pandemic. How are we organizing ourselves from civil society during the Covid-19? This time we were grateful to have the participation of:

  • Comité de Emergencia Antirracista: committee to identify, make visible and respond to situations of racist vulnerability and discrimination.
  • Frena la Curva: a guide to citizen initiatives against the coronavirus, social innovation and civic resilience in times of pandemic.
  • Red Levadura: an initiative that brings together stories of mutual support, care and collective solutions.
  • Coronavirus Makers: a network of free and open technology professionals made up of volunteers to create emergency aid material.
  • CovidWarriors: non-profit association united in the fight against Covid-19 with 3 objectives: to promote volunteerism, connect needs and accelerate initiatives.

Let’s get to know these initiatives better!

Each project had 10 minutes to present itself and explain what its actions consisted of. First of all, we were able to listen to Rosa León from Coronavirus Makers, an initiative that arose out of concern about the saturation of the health sector and the shortage of material in hospitals. In only 3 days, more than 5,000 volunteers were contacted and now the initiative has over 18,000. They are organized by projects and autonomous communities with a single objective: to create open source health material for people on the front lines against Covid-19. At the moment, Leon said that five manufacturing projects are underway:

  • Breathers: developed in Asturias and in less than 30 days, Breathers is a functional, economical device that is now being replicated in other countries. In Spain it is awaiting validation by the Spanish drug agency.
  • Protective visors: more than one million have been manufactured.
  • Ear savers: to minimise painful friction wounds on their ears for those who wear a mask all day.
  • Door openers: gadgets to avoid touching door knobs with your hands.
  • Fabric masks: reusable, in the process of being approved.

Patricia Horrillo described how their organisation Frena la Curva is organised through three lines of action:

  • initiative repository
  • pin map
  • innovation lab

“We wanted to make a repository to have all the initiatives together and see how they could help people. A repository that is easy to manage and use, with a team behind it to ensure that the repository is not a place of advertising,” explains Horrillo. In addition, Horrillo tells how, after creating that repository, they realized new needs. “We thought it would be interesting to geolocate these initiatives to put on the map (a map that had been used before already in the emergency or disaster system) what people offered or needed”. This is where the different colours of the pins on the map come from and also the two laboratories through which to work on “common challenge initiatives to think about the future”.

Helping those who help

Josep Vives, from CovidWarriors, explained how they were organized from the beginning through Telegram. A very diverse community of professionals was formed with the aim of solving the problems that were emerging through technology-based strategies. They work in three lines and under a single slogan “helping those who help”:

  • Encouraging professional volunteerism, innovative initiatives and start-ups with knowledge and solutions to devote to solving problems generated by the pandemic.
  • Connecting people with needs and solutions.
  • Accelerate projects that are not your own.


Adriana Zumaran presented the Comité de Emergencia Antirracista, an organization that was born to “identify that racist raids were going to increase, denounce the social and judicial impunity in the face of the murders of racialized people and warn that migrants are more likely to be socially excluded during the pandemic. In the same vein, Zumaran said that “this situation has confirmed the existence of social and institutional racism that leaves behind people who have migrated and become racialized. We have seen the need to create spaces for networking, support and community learning. They will soon publish a report produced during these months of the pandemic and say they want to launch it to become “an advocacy tool demanding immediate and permanent regularization for migrants”.

To end…

Finally, the Red Levadura was presented, an initiative that works with two possible future scenarios and under the premise that in times of crisis, society is deeply transformed. Red Levadura works:

  • where fear drives political decisions and there is regression on social rights.
  • where there is mutual solidarity and interdependence.

Red Levadura said: “we want to work on that second future and for that we need a great systemic change and to work on three levels”:

  • micro level: support networks and civil society organizations.
  • meso level: policy advocacy.
  • macro level: combating certain stories (xenophobia, racism and individuality).

At the moment they are working with more than 500 activists and 60 NGOs and have recently launched the No les Casito campaign within their networks.

Thank you all for following the debate cycle! We would like to remind you that you can find the videos of all the meetings we have organized on our YouTube channel. We also encourage you to subscribe to the Espai newsletter for up to date news on all our activities.

Do you want to get the Societat Oberta agenda on your e-mail?