Local aid groups in Lewisham have rallied together to bring vulnerable residents in the borough support during the Covid 19 outbreak.
The Lewisham Covid 19 Mutual Aid group was formed on Facebook this week, due to ongoing fears the viral epidemic is posing towards the elderly and the sick. The group has already recruited 3,000 members willing to assist infected residents with whatever errands they may require.
Rees Arnott a member and organiser of the LCMA network said that the group’s main objectives were to “provide support to members of our community, letting them know that they don’t have to go through this alone. That could mean walking their dog for them, doing the shopping, offering a friendly voice on the end of the phone, or picking up prescriptions from the chemist. The most important thing is to help stop the spread of this virus while supporting people who have to self-isolate.”
The project according to Arnott was an accidental idea that circulated amongst friends, families, and neighbours.
He said: “A few of us first had the idea of trying to help out the people we knew on our street, we then came together to design fliers and information that other people could use. After this we started encouraging people in other boroughs to do the same thing, sharing knowledge and expertise. Four days later there are over a thousand groups nationwide, and hundreds of thousands of people signing up to help or ask for support.”
The overwhelming response from volunteers has seen new initiatives and training being put in place to help individual needs. Online safeguarding training and translators have also been introduced to the LCMA network with members setting up various WhatsApp links to assist in coordinating the group’s logistical efforts.
Abbott discussed his involvement with the group adding: “I got involved because I believe that mutual aid, not charity, is the best way for working-class communities to support one another in times of crisis. Mutual aid means taking responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on our MPs, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable. While our politicians have utterly failed us, we’ve seen communities across the borough, black and white, British and migrant, old and young, coming together to build their own safety net.”
Other charities and local organisations such as voluntary services Lewisham and Age UK have stepped in to provide resources and recruitment amenities to the group’s cause. As of today schools across England will be closing, with emergency legislation laws suspending any new evictions from social or privately rented accommodations. Trains will be running reduced services TFL will also be minimised to weekend services as London faces the possibility of lockdown over the next coming weeks.