Community centre offers help to set up mutual aid group

The Fitzrovia Centre on Foley Street has announced it will help people wanting to set up mutual aid groups to match volunteers with those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Front of community centre.
The Fitzrovia Centre on Foley Street is offering help to set up mutual aid groups.

Centre director, Pat Tulloch, wrote to their newsletter subscribers to say that “in response to the coronavirus pandemic a number of mutual aid groups have started forming across the country in order to support the most vulnerable in their community”.

The groups focus on providing practical support including shopping, picking up medication, creating a food club, and offering a listening ear.

Mutual Aid UK is not an official organisation — it cannot raise its own funds. It is about local people supporting each other and organising independently, via street, housing association, tower, or mansion block. It is an opportunity for everyone to reach out, volunteer, and connect with their neighbours.

“If you are interested in setting up a group, are incurring costs, and would like assistance in accessing the Community Response Fund of £5k, Fitzrovia Centre can do so on your behalf. Email info@fitzroviacentre.org with details of your group,” says Tulloch.

There are some existing groups set up which can be found by searching the Mutual Aid UK website, and there is a Fitzrovia & Marylebone Mutual Aid Group which is run from their Facebook page.

If you would like to know more about setting up a mutual aid group and to register your group you can find details on the Mutual Aid Uk website.

Group organisers and participants are warned to be careful with people’s personal information and people are asked to be “especially vigilant against scams & fraud at this time”.

Groups are also warned not to pass on personal data from volunteers and those requesting help to anyone, be General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant, and to be aware of “safeguarding”.

Organising a group can be done through WhatsApp chats, Facebook messages, and phone conversations, and run meetings using online platforms like Zoom which people can join from their computer or smart phone.

“Feeling connected to your local community is more important than ever at a time when everyone needs an extended support system and a helping hand. Establishing a mutual aid group is an important means of both giving and receiving support,” says Tulloch.