Meet the local heroes who are setting up schemes, support networks and Mutual Aid groups to help everyone get through these strange times. Find your local groups below and get involved however you can, or ask for help whenever you need. Three cheers for community champions – and take that, Covid-19!
MUTUAL AID GROUPS
Based on connecting people with their neighbours in order to reciprocally exchange assistance, Mutual Aid groups have been springing up across the area with volunteers joining up in their thousands. Most south London groups have a Facebook page that acts as a central hub, with links to a master spreadsheet containing the details of WhatsApp groups for specific neighbourhoods where you can post or respond to requests for help on your doorstep. You’ll also find details of community events happening both on- and offline, sign up sheets to volunteer for specific tasks like shopping trips, Skype calls or dog walking, and links to local charities and community organisations in your area.
Search for the following on Facebook to find your borough’s Mutual Aid group:
Nunhead Knocks has also set up a triage website for volunteers, local businesses and those in need to sign up with specific skills and requests. Visit nunheadknocks.com to find out more.
VOLUNTEER CHILDCARE FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS
Are you DBS-checked and happy to watch the kids of NHS workers? With schools now closed, volunteer childminders could help alleviate the pressure on medical staff and save them any unforeseen private childcare care costs. Join the Facebook group Volunteer childcare for Healthcare staff during school closures – Covid-19 to get involved.
FOOD BANKS AND EMERGENCY FOOD PROGRAMMES
Organisations that help vulnerable families keep food on the table are experiencing an unprecedented crisis, thanks in no small part to stockpilers stripping supermarket shelves. Kick back against the selfishness by donating what you can to your local food bank. Visit givefood.org.uk/needs and pop in your postcode to find out what items your nearest food banks are currently requesting.
The Brixton Soup Kitchen is also in need of financial donations to support homeless and vulnerable people in Lambeth. Donate here.
Streatham Youth and Community Trust normally provides free lunches for disadvantaged children during school holidays. They’ve just launched a lunch service for local families in need. Donate to support the initiative here.
HELPING ELDERLY NEIGHBOURS
Older people are likely to be most affected by Covid-19, and not just physically – with 12 weeks of isolation likely to be recommended for the over-70s, south London’s elderly are going to need an extra helping hand. The simplest way of stepping up for seniors is to check on those living nearby and offering to run errands, or have a chat on the phone if any are feeling lonely.
If you’re worried about an elderly person in Lambeth and think they might need more support, give them the Lambeth Age UK Gateway number: 020 7346 6800. If the charity can’t help them, they’ll signpost them on to someone who can.
Link Age Southwark is a local charity providing friendly volunteer support to over 700 older people. Whilst they have had to temporarily suspend group and face-to-face services, Link Age will be providing telephone befriending instead. Email email@example.com if you’d like to help.
Voluntary Services Lewisham (VSL) are asking anyone keen to help support older and isolated people in the area to visit lewishamlocal.com to register their interest for telephone befriending, coordinated shopping and food parcel distribution.
SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH
Given the myriad of uncertainties that Covid-19 has thrown in people’s paths, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of mental health. You can support someone who might be vulnerable or feeling the pressure with a phone call or thoughtful message, just as much as with groceries or errand running. And if you’d like to go a step further in helping your fellow south Lonodner’s stay positive:
24-hour crisis text line SHOUT have volunteers on hand around the clock to support anyone who needs to talk. Share their number – 85258 – with anyone who might need it, or drop them a line yourself.
Phone Buddy London has been set up by a group of south Londoners to pair anyone feeling lonely, isolated or in need of a chat with a buddy for regular calls and chats. The group’s contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org or text 07471489109.
A group of qualified therapists have banded together to set up Help Hub, which will offer free 20 minute Skype, FaceTime or telephone calls to anyone who feels they need extra support. Their website, complete with a calendar booking tool, launches on Monday 23 March so keep it to hand for struggling loved ones. And if you’re a qualified therapist who would like to get involved, email email@example.com to find out more.