Covid Heroes: Daniel Lee Harvey And The Anti-Loo Roll Campaign
We’ve been on the search for local Covid Heroes, those who have gone above and beyond during this pandemic to help others in the community.
Daniel Lee Harvey is one of those incredible people.
When Daniel started kickstarted his career in the media industry in London as an intern for a globally renowned PR company, he was expected to survive the duration on £50 a week. The combination of the pressures to ensure he was able to keep going was the starting point for his long-term health conditions of ME and Fibromyalgia.
He explained: “I didn’t have any university qualifications or a thorough educational background; I did an internship based on my previous experience. I was getting paid £50 a week and I was working very long hours. I stayed at a communal warehouse thanks to a friend where I slept in a hammock. I remember how freezing it was and that there was ice growing inside some mornings.
“That was around the time that I started to experience all these weird symptoms in my body because I was pushing myself to absolute breaking point. At the time, I wasn’t really eating properly, and I really wasn’t living or experiencing London to its fullest. I wasn’t socialising or sleeping much, it was just unrealistic long term.”
Daniel struggled in the environment, as most would, and ultimately made the decision to quit for the sake of his health. Daniel’s experience made him realise that he had an ever-growing passion for making opportunities accessible for everyone as he feels there are no ‘bridges’ to ensure that people from a small town/village can access a city opportunity in an affordable and realistic way.
So, he went into teaching and supporting young people both in Primary and Higher Education settings.
“I want to make sure that young people have the opportunity to do things in the future and I wanted to be the best possible role model I can be for them. My goal was always to help young people who struggle with education and the community they’re in and help them fall back in love with it again,” he explained.
Through his extensive work in education, Daniel decided he wanted to take his passion of helping people even further, so he began working at 4YP as a mental health worker. Here, he did a lot more work around community engagement, heading into multiple high schools to run one-to-one wellbeing interventions with students.
“That was a really interesting role for me, I really enjoyed that. My love of music showed here as well, I ran evening workshops focusing on the history of music because I wanted young people to understand the history of the genres they’re listening to as it helps them understand the context. Whenever I am working with young people in whatever capacity, I want to make sure that they were in control, that they’re holding the pen, not a ghost writer. You have the pen, and you control your narrative.”
Daniel is now currently involved with Autism and ADHD, an award-winning social enterprise that works with clients and organisations all over the world. Autism and ADHD offers high quality and personalized support and guidance for those that need it. Daniel’s role has enabled him to get back in touch with his music roots once again and he has created two hugely successful online music festivals for their community to enjoy and the donated funds generated helped to secure a telephone support system, so Autism and ADHD were aptly equipped to support clients throughout lockdown.
However, the pandemic has had its tough and extremely low points, Daniel found himself without the essential support he relied on for his health, as well as losing all of his creative income, which were both major aspects of what kept him going in the first place.
All wasn’t lost, however, as it brought him back to basics and made him realise one major thing: that we could get through this together as a community.
David British, a promoter at DJGT, approached Daniel about a brand-new opportunity to focus on: ‘The Ipswich Anti-loo Brigade’ Facebook page.
“David initially approached me and said: ‘I’m in the midst of creating this community engagement group, do you want to be involved?’ and I said ‘absolutely- that’s what I need’. I was really in a low place and needed something to focus on and I knew that this would benefit thousands of people.
“At the time, we were seen as the first initial response to the pandemic for Ipswich because the council was in the motion of putting a plan together and it wasn’t released until weeks later. Naturally, so many people joined the group and it inspired others to take root. We’ve now got groups in London, Cornwall, Woodbridge and all over the UK that’s taken the anti-loo roll brigade banner. It’s incredible the impact ALR Brigade has had.”
David and Daniel took inspiration from Peter Dutch, who runs the Colchester Anti-loo Brigade and was the ‘brainchild’ of the whole movement.
The page is used for a wide array of things, from promoting local businesses to making sure that local people get the support they need during these strange times. The page itself now has 10,000+ members and is constantly growing.
“So many businesses have been reaching out, especially independents, to just say ‘this page is so great, and I really appreciate the fact that it has given me a platform to discuss very honestly about my journey’. So many independents have been chucked under a bus and we’re trying to make sure that their voices are being heard.
“We have spoken up about a number of issues that are community-minded, and we have been at the forefront of raising awareness on the work of local support services, charities and organizations and their continuous fight against poverty/adversity in the UK. This page has been a true reflection of whom we are as people. All of us as Admins are concerned residents and passionate individuals who have all got various different backgrounds and experiences.”
The page also works in collaboration with local charities and support services who have felt the strain of the pandemic.
One of the charities that Daniel works closely with is The Teapot Project, who pick up thousands of wasted food items from restaurants and supermarkets, allowing for them to create food boxes that are distributed out to families and others who may be struggling to provide during the pandemic.
“The nice idea with that is you can pay it forward. For example, if you wanted to pay for yourself and then pay for another family, you could do that. If there was a family that literally had nothing at all, there is an option there to ensure that they were able to get essential supplies for the week. I cannot praise Mischa Pierson and the team enough, they all deserve MBEs in my opinion,” Daniel explained.
Daniel and his team do not see this page as a short-term solution to the pandemic, they want to carry on this project long after normality returns.
“I love Ipswich and I think it’s come such a long way. I never want us to forget this community energy. It’s taken a pandemic for a lot of people to realise how strong it was. There’s been so many people putting down recommendations and sharing ideas on how to support others whilst they’re going through their own journey. I personally don’t want this page to go anywhere, it’s been wonderful.
“People who have lost absolutely everything throughout this pandemic have reached out and explained what they’re gone through. They’re always the ones first to offer help as well, they’re the first to say, ‘I’m here, I have a car, if you need anything delivered or picked up, I’m here’. The amount of people that were and are still doing that on a daily basis is incredible. I don’t ever want to hear again that Ipswich is not full of community spirit because I’ve seen it in abundance over the last few months and it has been the very thing that has kept me going throughout the darker days.”
To get involved with Ipswich Anti-Loo Brigade, simply request to join the group on Facebook and get in contact with all the lovely admins there.
Know of anyone like Daniel that you would consider a Covid Hero? Get in touch with us online and we’ll be sure to give them all the coverage they deserve.