How quickly the world has changed in the past two months. Although everyone will have been affected in a slightly different way, each of us will have suffered from the tornado that is COVID-19, which has ripped through our lives, decimating the landscape and unleashing disruption, both public and personal.

Some of us will have been in rehearsals or performing in shows that were abruptly yanked. Others would have had filming halted, recordings postponed, or auditions cancelled. Projects have come to a screeching halt, and to add insult to injury, even our side hustles are no longer hustling. Along with the rest of the country, we are now all "resting" under lockdown – and as freelancers working in an industry that is precarious enough without global pandemics, the future is seriously unclear.

So what to do? First of all, don't panic. For once, we can all be assured that it's not personal. It's not that we aren't beautiful enough or young enough or talented enough – we're not working, because no one is working. It's a rare moment in time where we can calm those paranoid freelancer voices in our heads and accept that even the A-listers are not on set.

Secondly, on a more practical note, there are numerous resources that have been rallied together to help us in our time of need – starting with the governments. The UK government will be launching the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme by mid-May, which will allow the self-employed to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to £2500 per month. You will be eligible for this if you filed a self assessment tax return for 2018-2019, are self-employed for the current tax year, and have lost trading profits due to the coronavirus. Tax and National Insurance contributions will be deducted from this, but the grant itself will not have to be repaid, and you can continue to work if you receive the grant. Do be aware, though, that the government will be contacting those eligible, not the other way around. If waiting until June to receive payment is going to cause financial difficulties, you can apply for Universal Credit in the meantime, as long as you (and your partner, if you have one) have less than £16,000 in savings between you. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Note the mention of governments. Plural. The UK is not the only country to be throwing money at the problem. For all those AAUK members who are American citizens and have been duly filing your taxes each year, your diligence is about to pay off – literally. There are various permutations, but by and large, if you filed your taxes for 2018 or 2019, earned less than $136,000 last year, and have no children under the age of 17, you will receive a payment of $1200 from the US government. For every child you do have who is under 17, you will receive an extra $500. And the kicker? Just as with filing your U.S. taxes, you don't actually have to be resident in the USA to qualify. For more information, see https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center

There are plenty of other organizations providing assistance as well. Equity has unsurprisingly been working tirelessly to help members in this regard, and has a list of updated information and resources on its website, www.equity.org.uk, including contact details for tax and welfare rights information and the Equity mental health helpline. The Radio Academy has just launched the Audio and Radio Emergency Fund for those working in the radio and audio sector who are struggling because of the COVID-19 crisis. Other organizations, such as BAFTA, Creative England, and the Film & TV Charity, all offer advice and resources for those working in the creative industries. More initiatives are being added every day, so check their websites and social media regularly for updates.

Finally, to stay connected, do have a look at the AAUK Facebook page where a number of member-led activities are popping up – from zoom play readings to workshops and career advice. It's a good way to remind yourself that you aren't alone, and that there are events you can still get involved in.

Though at this writing no one knows precisely when, the situation will eventually morph, changes will come about, and bit by bit, we will come through this. The important thing is to attend to the basics to ensure you get through – look after your health, your loved ones, and your finances – then chill. This period is about surviving, not about achieving. Be kind to yourself, look after your physical and mental health, and plan for the day – hopefully soon – when we will all be back in audition rooms, rehearsal studios, theatres, recording studios, and film sets. Until then, be safe, stay well, and hang in there.