#LondonTogether – Paying tribute to the amazing work of volunteers and community mutual aid groups

#LondonTogether – Paying tribute to the amazing work of volunteers and community mutual aid groups

Thank you to all the amazing volunteers and mutual aid groups

Since the lockdown began, we’ve been overwhelmed by the numbers of volunteers willing to help and want to pay tribute to them and the community mutual aid groups.

As part of the #LondonTogether campaign. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is inviting Londoners to share he inspiring examples of courage, kindness and generosity being shown amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Since we had to temporarily postpone all of our Wellbeing Centre activities, it became vitally important to remain in contact with our friends and neighbours particularly those who are digitally excluded who are at risk of being socially isolated with the help of volunteers. Here are some of the that volunteers have been helping people in the community:

  • As part of a Befriending service, our pool of volunteers have made 387 individual calls this month.
  • We’ve recently started a digital buddy scheme to get more people online. Volunteers are helping people access online services by talking them through things like setting up Facebook accounts and online shopping.
  • Other volunteers have been delivering food and prescriptions to people who are self-isolating – Thank you to the local running group the Outrunners have been extremely quick to respond to calls for help with this.
A member of the Outrunners running club, picking up prescriptions for local older people

This is just a small part of a work being done to ensure that we can reach everyone who needs help. The Linkage Plus partnership has been working to ensure older people across Tower Hamlets are getting the support they need by using a new app called Refer to Help. This is a new way to refer people who need support to local organisations who are reaching out to hundreds of people across the borough with difficulty accessing food or at risk of suffering from loneliness, experiencing a reduction in carer support or need help accessing updated advice and information.

As part of a wider community effort that has seen us included in 14 mutual aid conversations and introduced to 27 mutual aid administrators, we were introduced to Tavi.

Tavi is a Seamstress who lives in a Guardianship accommodation. She found herself out of work due to COVID. As she is self-employed, she has applied for Universal Credit and is still awaiting her first payment but she thinks she’s been very lucky as her rent has been paused which has provided some financial relief.

Wanting to be a part of a collective neighbourhood effort to care for people in the community, she joined a Tower Hamlets Mutual Aid group and soon after become involved in mutual aid groups in Spitalfields and Banglatown.

“It felt really important to me to do something for the community. There’s a real need at the moment for us to care for each other and our neighbours as we can’t rely on the government to look after us”.

Since then, Tavi has taken a leadership role co-ordinating large groups of volunteers, dividing groups into neighborhood areas and finding local people to coordinate each group. She’s been using her skills and a seamstress to sew scrubs for the NHS to use which does at home and are collected and taken to the hospitals. Tavi hopes that some good can come out of this crisis in the way that we treat and neighbours and care for each other’s wellbeing.

“It shows that communities need to be built on trust and this should have been in place anyway. One positive outcome I hope comes from this is that in the future we channel the kindness into something longer lasting when things are back to normal.”

We’ve heard many stories of people going above and beyond to help people in their community, such as Ian and Sharon, who’s story was shared with us by City Advice Adviser, Dami;

“I want to say a special thank you to my neighbours Ian and Sharon who have gone the extra mile to support people in my local area. They have been helping with shopping delivering food and supporting people who are at risk or in self-isolation. Thank you for making it not feel any more stressful than it is.”

Thank you all for your incredible spirit and willingness to support your neighbours.There are many challenges ahead and so much to do to create a fairer and happier society where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We want to help build on existing strong community connections and partnerships, so we all have greater capacity to create that better future, as well as respond to the immediate crisis. Lockdown has many downsides; not being able to provide one-to-one support is hugely challenging, especially for our outreach workers who are not able to visit people in their homes to assess needs. But we are also seeing incredible resilience, innovation, compassion, and courage across the community. People’s willingness and desire to support those around them is humbling.  It’s vital that once we come out of this phase of the pandemic, we commit to maintaining and deepening these wider support networks, even when we are able to restart face-to-face activities.

If you know anyone struggling with any aspect of lockdown, needs help getting food or prescriptions, is socially isolated or needs any kind of advice or support, Toynbee Hall is here to help. Please contact miry.mayer@toynbeehall.org.uk.

Or if they’re struggling financially, our advice services will do their best to help. Call 020 7392 2953 or email advice@toynbeehall.org.uk.

Please support our Emergency Appeal on Giving Tuesday

Covid-19 is impacting those in our community who already face the greatest challenges: people on low incomes and in insecure jobs, and those who are highly isolated, digitally excluded, or have no recourse to public funds.

On Giving Tuesday, 5th May, we’re officially launching our Covid-19 Emergency Community Response Appeal to provide vital support to people who need it now. Please share our appeal widely on #GivingTuesday with family, friends and colleagues.

Giving Tuesday, 5th May 2020, is a global day of giving in response to the unprecedented need caused by Covid-19. Join us and millions of others around the world as we launch our Emergency Covid-19 Appeal in support of those who are hardest-hit by the crisis.

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