This piece is part of a series from Backbench’s editorial team on the coronavirus crisis. Views expressed are the opinions of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect Backbench as a whole, which is non-partisan in outlook. The editors will be taking questions and responses on their thoughts about the crisis on twitter @Backbench_UK or by direct message to the Facebook page. Select responses will be compiled in a letters to the editor feature.

The news is currently dominated by updates on the coronavirus pandemic, and rightly so. Deaths in the UK recently are climbing every day; Boris Johnson has just been discharged from hospital, after a stint in intensive care with the virus; and nations across the globe remain in lockdown in an attempt to prevent its spread.

All are important stories. But in amongst the anxiety and the politics, without downplaying their importance, life is continuing. Indeed, a new normal is emerging, thanks to a number of heroic essential workers – in particular healthcare workers on the front line – and acts of generosity and kindness across the globe. Below are just a few examples of these uplifting stories: to shine a light on the genuine goodness in the world, and to hopefully brighten your day.

Life goes on

A global pandemic won’t stop the passage of time, and a birthday this spring likely means one spent indoors. Because of this, community spirit has never been more important…

A 100-year-old man in Northampton was serenaded by his neighbours with Happy Birthday, after his party was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Essex, baby Elouise celebrated her first birthday having been operated on in the womb for spina bifida, one of the first babies in the UK to undergo such a procedure.

Thousands of miles away in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, the mountain gorilla is making a comeback. Though the species is still under threat, its population has increased by over 50 per cent since 2008, due in large part to community engagement and cooperation.

Lot of laughs

Some stories are a great reminder to find the funny wherever you can.

A woman in the US was a source of much amusement on Reddit after sharing that she had been washing her hands with a block of cheese for the last week, thinking it was a bar of soap.

Lockdown has been the highlight of the year for dogs: in Essex, dachshund Rolo was so delighted at having his owners home all day that he sprained his tail from over-wagging.

Equal parts odd and funny, cardboard cutouts and mannequins of fans sat in place of the real thing at the launch of Taiwan’s baseball season last week.

As Spain enters another week of lockdown, residents in the north-west city of Asturias got inventive: a man shared a drink with a neighbour by pouring him a glass of wine – out of the window, two flats above.

Heart-warming and happy

Some examples of people going the extra mile to keep spirits light during lockdown, or the unexpected consequences of many daily activities grinding to a halt. And let’s not forget the many thousands of NHS staff and other essential workers keeping us alive every day.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, reassured children last week that the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy were ‘essential workers’. Maine governor Janet Mills followed suit.

Every Thursday, Brits have been clapping in the streets to celebrate NHS workers. This family do so every day when their nurse mum and wife arrives home from work.

In the northern Indian state of Punjab, residents have been stunned as low pollution levels allow them to see the Himalayas for the first time in 30 years.

78 elephants at a tourist attraction in Chang Mai, northern Thailand, have been permanently freed from being ridden by tourists; the owners say they have no intention of re-attaching the large seats to the animals once the park reopens.

Residents at a care home in West Lothian received an unexpected visit recently – from a group of alpacas. The animals were brought by a nearby animal reserve to raise spirits.

For more where this came from…

Actor John Krasinski has started a YouTube channel dedicated entirely to good news.

The Good News Network has all the happy stories you could ever need, updated every day.

Follow The Happy Broadcast on Instagram for ‘anxiety-free news’ (and some cute graphics too).

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