Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid-19: UK-based Sanam Arora relies on social media for relief efforts in India

Prasun Sonwalkar/London
Filed on May 22, 2021

Sanam Arora is the founder of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, the UK

Sanam Arora, whose behind-the-scenes efforts in the UK, makes a difference to Covid-19 patients in her native India

One of the many members of the Indian diaspora across continents that used social media to try and help desperate individuals in the Covid-19 crisis back home is London-based Sanam Arora, the founder of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union, the United Kingdom (UK).

One of the organisations, which are interacting and supporting students from India at the UK universities, the outfit has raised several issues in recent years, such as visa extensions during the Covid-19 pandemic and helping students stranded due to lockdown restrictions.

Arora used Twitter often to crowd-source ideas from people on the ground in India on the ways in which the diaspora could help. She then used both behind-the-scenes and public-facing channels to request help from the ground, including requests to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to help India with oxygen, ventilators, telemedicine support, etc.

She has led efforts on social media to guide and advise the Indian diaspora on ways of contributing to the relief efforts, from lobbying governments to support India, to fundraising efforts and curbing misinformation.

Arora also amplified requests for oxygen, ventilators, and other equipment and shared resources with diaspora members whose family and friends have been impacted in India, advising them how they can help through social media channels.

Arora and her organisation’s team of over 25 volunteers in the UK and India have been active since mid-March 2020. In the UK, besides students they also supported senior citizens and tourists, providing food and groceries to the needy and helping find accommodation for students unable to afford rent.

She said: “We also organised a number of sessions to support students through the period of extended lockdown, ranging from mental health sessions, fun and networking sessions as well as lessons helping students make the most of their time during the lockdown and focus on mental wellbeing”.

She added: “We also worked very closely with the Indian High Commission, helping prioritise people for the Vande Bharat repatriation mission to India, depending on their circumstances and need. We operated a 'man-to-man marking' system for some students, including some extreme cases of students threatening suicide.”

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