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Mutual aid groups vow to carry on as Islington lockdown bites

Volunteers say will continue to help the isolated “safely and sensibly, within the parameters” of lockdown measures

24 March, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

MUTUAL aid groups have vowed to continue “providing an important lifeline” to their communities despite a UK-wide lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday night that people would not be able to leave their homes other than to exercise once a day, travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, shop for essential items and to fulfil any medical or care needs.

Islington’s volunteer groups, which sprung up amid the Covid-19 outbreak, say they can continue to help those in isolation under the new rules by operating “safely and sensibly, within its parameters”.

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK posted a statement online on Tuesday reassuring its members of their ability to carry on.

Adding: “On this basis, we are presuming that Mutual Aid groups will be allowed to carry on providing vital support to people in self-isolation or quarantine. 

“Groups should continue to follow the guidance to ensure you do not put yourself or others at risk in carrying out this support, but otherwise we would encourage groups to continue as before.”

A number of the groups are now reducing the number of trips they take and using each trip to carry out multiple errands to avoid people making too many trips outside.

Phone calls and online support is also being offered to those who are experiencing anxiety and isolation.

“We’ve already begun to show the world the incredible impact that something as simple as looking out for your neighbours can have in the face of coronavirus,” the statement said. 

“As the situation develops, we look forward to continuing the work of building this network of local groups, and providing care and compassion in our communities.”

Guilene Marco, 41, who is heading up the St Mary’s Ward said the group which has grown to more than 150 people are still dedicated to aiding people during this period of uncertainty and isolation.

“We’re even trying to come up with more inventive ways to support anyone who needs it, like parents who need help keeping their children entertained,” the marketing manager, who is currently working from home, said.

Ms Marco said she felt their services were going to be needed more than ever after Mr Johnson’s address.

“Many people have rung us to make sure it’s a real person at the end of the line and have said they will ring back when they’re in need. It’s a comfort to many that we’ll be here when they need us.”

The marketing manager, who is currently working from home, said the network of people who are now working in collaboration within the community have been able to find solace in each other as well as offering it to those they help. 

“You meet people doing this that just live down the road that you’ve never met before but it’s all virtual for now but when this is over we’ll all definitely be meeting in the pub, maybe we’ll organise a big party.”

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