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COVID-19 - Mutual Aid Groups Start Up

After consulting with local mutual aid groups, who have offered a wealth of support in the wake of Covid-19, MVA have collated helpful information for Mutual Aid groups below.

COVID-19 - Mutual Aid Groups

Whitney leaning against a railing on a downtown street

As Government advice on Coronavirus continues to develop, MVA will continue to do their upmost to curate and share the most current information and support available.

What is a mutual aid group

Mutual aid groups are self-organised groups of people in the community that have set up to support and help people in their local area or neighbourhood. Some mutual aid groups have been set up in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). Mutual aid groups are usually run by volunteers in their communities.

What might volunteering for a mutual aid group involve?

Please DO NOT volunteer to come into contact with others if you are currently in at at-risk group or you/ some in your household are experiencing symptoms. Follow government and NHS guidance always. You can check the most up to date guidance by clicking here.

Those that shouldn't come in to contact with others at this time can still volunteer and be supportive to those that need it via chat groups and via phone.

Mutual Aid groups organise their own activities in response to their local community needs and are made up of volunteers in that local area. Examples of these activities are listed below:

  • Food shopping
  • Collecting medication
  • Walking a pet
  • Helping someone contact an organisation if thy require addition or professional support.
  • Providing support for people who may need someone to talk to
  • Raising awareness of the groups by posting on social media or putting information through doors

How can I find my local mutual aid group?

Mutual aid groups are being setting up all over the UK. Covid Mutual Aid has an up to date map and list of local groups on their website: https://covidmutualaid.org/local-groups. You can also register your own group here for others to find you.

How do I set up a mutual aid group?

Many mutual aid groups are setting up Facebook or WhatsApp groups for volunteers to join and for people to receive support. You can set up a mutual aid group if there isn’t one in your area. The size of the area is up to you and your fellow volunteers. A local group to cover your street or neighbourhood could be the most effective.

Things to consider

NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank have announced the introduction of a new ‘companion card’ – a supplement to their existing current accounts that will enable vulnerable customers and those in extended isolation to give trusted volunteers a way to pay for their essential goods. To find out more click here: https://www.rbs.com/rbs/news/2020/04/natwest--royal-bank-of-scotland-and-ulster-bank-launch-card-for-.html

Safeguarding:

  • The group should operate honesty/transparently.
  • Remind the people you are helping to be vigilant for scams
  • Group members need to be mindful of safeguarding and know how to report any concerns within their group, the resources and FREE training below can help.
  • A Safeguarding Factsheet: Community volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak - view by clicking here
  • Free Safeguarding Training from MVA (for more in depth information) - click here to get started
  • If you need information on DBS checking, contact us here at MVA.

Keeping data safe and protected (GDPR):

Communicating with your volunteers:

Facebook groups or WhatsApp groups are a great way to communicate with your group.

Please also consider that those that may need support may not have access to these platforms. They may not have access to the internet, have smart phones or be comfortable on social media. This is particularly true of at-risk groups. Please consider how they will contact you for support.

Leaflets or flyers are one way to reach people in their homes to tell them about your mutual aid group. Ensure you have a method for people to contact you included on this.

Key information to include is:

  • What your group is about
  • A positive message that you are here to help
  • The area you cover
  • How to contact you
  • Do not include any medical or care advice. People should be directed to government and NHS guidance for the latest information.

If you are leafleting remember this can also spread the virus. The following may be helpful:

  • Do not leaflet in large groups
  • Do not share one stack of leaflets, and separate leaflet stacks between different people
  • Use hand sanitiser regularly if you are able to
  • Wash your hands before and after leafleting

Guidance for volunteers in your group:

MVA have secured a collection of short animations to support volunteering during the COVID-19 emergency:

Social Distancing Precautions

Remember that although you are delivering mutual aid in your community, we are all advised to practice social distancing and follow official guidance.

The government have produced guidance on How To Help Safely: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-how-to-help-safely--2

The Food Standards Agency have produced guidance and food safety information if you are preparing meals to share in your community: www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-safety-for-community-cooking-and-food-banks

Support beyond COVID-19

If you would like to explore making the group a permanent neighbourhood support group (beyond the COVID-19 crisis) please contact us via email at info@mva.org.uk