A lockdown designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus is in effect but a network of volunteers are still supporting vulnerable self-isolating people.
Marketing manager Avril Wilson-George who is the COVID-19 Mutual Aid point person for her ‘hyper-localised’ Swan Pub area in Chiswick.
Her group, which at last count had 100 members, brings food and support to people who are self-isolating and has received overwhelmingly positive feedback.
Mrs Wilson-George said: “I just got a voicemail from a lady who was in tears on the phone saying, ‘It means so much to know there are people out there who care and who want to help’.
“It makes you feel good, that’s why we set it up because we want people to feel like they’re not alone.”
COVID-19 Mutual Aid started in Lewisham three weeks ago, now it has an informal network of more than 2.5 million volunteers nationwide.
Mutual Aid operates on a non-hierarchical community organising model.
This means that while Mrs Wilson-George co-ordinates the group anyone who has experience in a certain area can take the lead.
“It shows if you give people the resources they’re actually great at self-organising,” Mrs Wilson-George said.
“I was feeling quite anxious about it the situation, a bit scared and uncertain.
“So I just thought I’d rather be doing something practical than sitting at home worrying about it.”
Mrs Wilson-George hopes the government will support volunteers with PPE and hand sanitiser.
However, she believes untrained volunteers could not step in if hospitals are overwhelmed as serious cases need to be treated by trained medical staff.
Mrs Wilson-George hopes Mutual Aid will bring communities together after the virus.
She said: “It seems like an obvious point but we are a lot more disconnected as a society than my parents’ generation.
“It has encouraged a lot of people to think about the difference they can make.
“Maybe going forward more people will get involved with community organising schemes and feel empowered.
“Ordinarily busy life gets in the way and we think ‘Somebody else is probably doing that’.
“Like all of us, they’d focus on their careers, already have a busy network of friends and family.
“And thought it was hard enough to keep up with their WhatsApp without worrying what’s happening in their area.
“This has changed that for a lot of people, it certainly has for me.”
The Resident compiled a list of London’s Mutual Aid groups by borough.