A group of medical students in London are delivering outreach packages containing protective equipment to people who are currently homeless or sleeping rough during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the volunteers helping them.
The Medical Student Covid 19 Outreach group have been helping out other outreach groups such as Streets Kitchens and Museum of Homelessness.
Last weekend they distributed 150 supply boxes between Islington and Hackney, to groups such as the Essential Services Provision at the Round Chapel, to Hackney Council .
Nazia Siddiqui, a UCL medical student, and founder of the outreach group, said on the gofundme page: “As a medical student myself, we have been granted a large period of time without full academic commitments, where we have the time to go and make these deliveries and offer the support we can, during this time, where self-isolating isn’t an option for some people”.
“We have been producing in mass facemasks and made over 1000 now and still going using the sewing machine, with my mum’s help as she is gifted on the sewing machine! Also, we have been fundraising to make packages which include soap, gloves, tissues, masks, and hand sanitizer. We have been distributing them to groups in Islington, Hackney and other groups who have been taking them on their outreach and giving them to people who are in temporary accommodation and to those who are not.”
At the moment, by doing all the work themselves inside one house, the group has managed to produce returns of £1 donation for three masks and £500 donations producing 200 essential packages.
On 1 April, the group posted on Facebook: “homemade masks may be partly effective in individual protection, but are essential for slowing spread of the virus in the population. Stay home and stay safe does not always apply, protect everyone, wear a mask”.
So far, the group has provided PPE to Wimbledon Food bank, Merton Mutual Aid Group, Street Kitchens, Museum of Homelessness, Hackney Council, Pauses and Steps, Dad’s House and other associated food banks. They do the deliveries around Islington and Hackney, but also post the supplies to people who are further away from their delivery space.
Siddiqui said: “we managed to provide over 150 packages this weekend between Islington and Hackney and are hoping to do the same this weekend, but this is all contingent on funding. This type of resource is both an absolute necessity but something I believe is an essential gesture that we have to keep doing. It is imperative we demonstrate to people who are homeless or rough sleeping that their health matters just as much as everyone else’s, and ability to protect yourself from COVID-19 by using measures like face masks, hand-washing or hand gel and gloves, is not a privilege but a right that every person should be provided with the ability to do so.”
In order to fundraise and gather their funds, the group created a ‘funraiser’, as they called it, where they created a video production of 18 different artists demonstrating their talents. People get access to the video after they make even a minimum donation on their gofundme page. They post all the information on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
The group has raised nearly £2200 so far with their goal of £3000 not far off from being met. They are hopeful that they will reach or even surpass their goal and be able to keep providing essential PPE and support they are giving in this difficult time.