Following the news has never been a laugh a minute but since the coronavirus came along, it has all been extremely depressing, thought student Emma de Brabander. And yet some lovely things have been happening too. So Emma and a few others started a website for positive corona news.
‘A lot of people are drowning in all the negative news,’ says Emma, a third-year student of Nutrition and Health. ‘There are some positive stories too, of course, but they get a bit lost. And that’s a pity, because it is nice to pay attention to positive news, and it makes you feel good.’ And that is no luxury at the moment, when recent figures from the Trimbos Institute for mental health suggest that more Dutch people are suffering from mental health problems such as depression than before the corona crisis.
A German beer brand gave away 2600 litres of beer because it would go down the drain otherwise; fewer hedgehogs are dying than usual because there is less traffic; and in Alkmaar a COVID-19 patient taught hospital staff to dance. A sample of the good news.
Emma hit upon the idea of spreading good news thanks to an appeal on LinkedIn. ‘I don’t know the initiator personally, but that is the power and the beauty of social media. Within a few days, we had a team of seven ‘good news collectors’ and the website Pocon (positive corona news) was launched. There is a Facebook page now too.’ The team roams the internet every day to make a selection from the news on offer in newspapers and websites such as the Dutch news channel NOS. The nicest news stories are selected and put online under different categories, such as healthcare or environment. ‘I had time to spare because so many activities were cancelled, and I thought this was a useful initiative.’
‘We didn’t know how it would go. Is anyone interested in this? Luckily we are getting many enthusiastic responses. And it’s doing me good too. For example, I really loved the story about a clown who climbed up scaffolding to cheer up some elderly people. And around King’s Day there were a lot of nice initiatives, such as neighbours who decorated their front gardens together. I really like seeing how people are making the best of it. This crisis is bringing some good things with it as well.’