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Image / Editorial

Businesses stepping up: ‘The world has turned upside down, but our medical personnel are still keeping us upright’

by Amanda Cassidy
28th Mar 2020

Meet the businesses taking a unique approach to the current Covid-19 crisis.

It was American TV personality Fred Rodgers who put it best: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mom would say to me ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” And that can be no truer than now.

Construction companies are producing parts for ventilators, clothes manufacturers are diversifying to make protective clothing, and small businesses are donating or feeding exhausted frontline medical staff.

It is a wartime mentality — a pulling together while staying apart. The human cost of this pandemic superseding the economic impacts. We can all play a part.

And it is worth shining a light on those businesses who are pitching up in the most unlikely of places.


Dolce & Gabbana this week announced that it has partnered with Humanitas University to fund a coronavirus research project, while Giorgio Armani has donated $1.43 million dollars to hospitals in Rome and Milan.

Closer to home, companies like O’Neill Sports have also volunteered to help produce badly-needed personal protection equipment such as clothing, masks and visors.

Listoke Distillery, the Co Louth craft distillery has decided to pause gin production and instead will produce alcohol-based hand sanitiser that it will give free of charge to charities such as the Peter McVerry Trust, and to frontline services such as the Dublin Fire Brigade.


Businesswoman Annie understands all too well the importance of lung health when it comes to the current coronavirus crisis. In fact, it was her first thought when she decided to donate her cold brew coffee supplies to the medical staff at the hospital where her life was saved.

How we react under pressure says a lot about a person and the ethics of a company. Despite the challenges she knew were ahead for her business, Annie knew she would be the one to take a unique approach.

“It started on a girls’ trip to Rajasthan, India last September with my cofounder Charlotte.” (She and Annie run Bottleshot Cold Brew, a New Orleans style coffee brand in the UK.)

“We’re an active bunch who enjoy friendly competition, so naturally, we tried our hand at camel polo. Within 10 minutes, my camel bucked me off and, the next thing I knew I was in emergency surgery for a broken arm in a foreign hospital.

“To make matters worse, after a traumatic flight home where I felt nauseous and struggled to breathe throughout, I learned that during my surgery a pneumothorax had occurred in my left lung, collapsing it by 90%.

“My doctor quickly diagnosed the issue and extracted the bulk of the dangerous cavity. They then sent me straight to Royal Brompton’s Respiratory Department where my doctor, Dr. Hind was skilled at examining my oxygen intake, tracking my progress to make sure I was correctly limiting exertion, refraining from train/air travel, and letting my lung heal for 8 weeks.

Giving back

“I’m happy to say that I’ve fully recovered thanks to these nurses and doctors’ help and expertise, and I’m even planning to run a marathon next year.

“But, it made me think. When the Covid-19 breakout began, I wanted to do something to show my appreciation, these medical staff are the people who take care of us when we need it, even when we have no clue what we need.

“They study for years, they work days and nights without regard for their own comfort, and they always prioritise our wellbeing above all else. They are heroes. We all know this, but do we always stop to register all they do and show our full appreciation?

“Now is certainly the time. The world has turned upside down, but our medical personnel are still keeping us upright and returning us to normalcy as quickly as they can.

“Whatever you can do to help them, or anyone being especially affected right now, please take a minute to consider what you can offer – from a phone call to check-in to helping at-risk people get groceries, to any small bit of help you can offer.”

And then there is journalist and TV executive, Helen O’Rahilly who used her platform on social media to champion a network of volunteers that has been delivering essentials to older and immunocompromised people in communities around Ireland. has rallied volunteers to provide medications, groceries or even a dog walked with a helpful interactive map and messaging service designed by volunteers Jonathan Randall and Dave Bolger.

Proof that small actions have a huge impact during times like this.

Adapt to survive

“Having a few bad months would be a good result in a bad situation”


Of course, help is all relative. And comes in many forms.

Didier Penine who runs his online company Say It With Champers says the disruption caused by cancelled weddings and events has had a very dramatic effect on his business.

“The loss of revenues means that on a personal level I will have less disposable income available and it will, of course, be difficult to take, but carrying on and accepting that it is a momentary situation is the only way to look at it.

“Ultimately health is the most important thing, and if myself and the people around me stay healthy, having a few bad months would be a good result in a bad situation.”

Didier is pragmatic about the outlook. He says he has had to improvise when it comes to working on sales during this lock-down period.

“The flip side, of course, is that with everybody being stuck indoors in the coming months, it is likely that people will be doing more purchasing online. Birthdays will always happen, so perhaps for those people wanting an alternative gift that can be delivered direct, personalised Champagne from Say It With Champers may be all the more appealing to them.”

And then there is our part.

The homeschooling, the keeping-things-together, the checking in on neighbours, the keeping-the-peace-when-you-are-losing-your-mind part. The handwashing, the social distancing, clapping the heroes, staying calm. Controlling the controllable.

We will prevail. This too shall pass.

Image via 

Read more: Coronavirus Diaries: ‘Covid 19 is a challenge we never imagined we’d have to face’

Read more: Coronavirus: ‘It is time to do our civic duty’