Resources + Guides
Communities are not just defined by geography.
Our lived experiences define who we are and the types of support and networks we may need during times of crisis.
What is a mutual aid local group?
Mutual aid local groups are small groups of people coordinating independently in their community to support vulnerable people. During the COVID-19 outbreak, mutual aid groups expanded in support of those affected in their communities.
Groups are not being set up in a uniform way and each community should do what is best for them. These resources are here to provide advice.
You can volunteer in a group by running errands if you have no illness symptoms. Or, if you are self-isolating, you can help coordinate for your local group and help us centralize support groups.
What does a Covid-19 mutual aid local group/volunteer do?
Each is autonomous and may have different actives, but most are organizing events including:
Providing an umber for local vulnerable people to call if they need support.
Running errands/shopping for vulnerable those isolating.
Providing a friendly ear and some emotional support to community members who are self-isolating or finding the pandemic overwhelming.
Setting up your own local group
If there isn't a group in your area and you want to help support your community, we recommend setting one up. You don't need to create a group for your whole city. In fact, the smaller the area, the better. A whole street supporting each other could be more effective than a city-wide group.
You can set up your group in whatever way works for you, but we recommend using a communication platform like a Facebook group or WhatsApp group so you can communicate with the volunteers.
Be aware that while Facebook or WhatsApp are good organizing platforms, they may not be the easiest way for vulnerable people in your area to find and contact your group. They may not have access to smartphones or the internet.
Please think about other ways those in need can contact you either through email or a phone number. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your own details, your group can set up their own email addresses or a phone number. Your safety is a priority as you’re providing assistance to those in your community. Try using one of the following free platforms to host a number and call for free:
Text Now - free number, wifi calling
WhatsApp - wifi calling w/signup
Talkatone - free number, wifi calling
When creating a leaflet, remember the main aim is to communicate to vulnerable people including those who are visually impaired. Guidance on accessible formatting can be found below.
Managing support requests and personal data
We recommend managing requests as simple as possible. Have a direct number or email that people can use to contact you rather than using set web forms.
It is important that requests are kept safe and confidential. We need to safeguard those who are most vulnerable and keep their data confidential. Whenever possible avoid unnecessary spreadsheets or storing data. If you must make a spreadsheet, make sure that it is protected by a password and that only a small number of trusted people have access.
Creating your Flyers
A great way to get in touch with at-risk people in your area is with leaflets or a handwritten note to let them know about the support you're offering. Remember only do this if you are completely symptom-free and feeling well.
Things to Include:
An explanation of what your group is and what you're offering (your area, specifics of what support you can provide).
A method of contact (consider email and phone for those uncomfortable or unable to access the internet).
A message of hope and support! A friendly message can make a huge difference in dealing with the isolating and anxiety of the pandemic.
You should NOT include:
Medical advice! Please leave that to the professionals.
Misinformation. The purpose of leaflets is to share support and messages of hope.
Template flyers can be found here.
How to run your meetings online
WhatsApp chats, Facebook, and phone are great for conversations. For meetings, Zoom is perfect and allows individuals to join from their computer or smartphone.
For details on how to set up Zoom call go here.
For details of how to invite people to your call go here.
Safeguarding and security
We are looking into safeguarding advice to protect vulnerable adults. We are also looking to Covid Mutual Aid UK for advice.
SECURITY: Do NOT pass on personal data from volunteers & those requesting help to anyone, especially other organizations or institutions. This is both for legal reasons & also to protect vulnerable people who might not be safe if you share their details. This includes making sure you do not pass on information to your local council or government body. Your council can support your group without needing to know specifics of who you are supporting directly.
How to avoid spreading the virus
GIVING SUPPORT: All local mutual aid groups need to PRIORITISE SAFETY.
Community care is about preventing the spread of Covid-19 and providing support for the most vulnerable.
All groups should follow:
The CDC's guideline on how to prevent Spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Homes and Residential Communities
The Queercare’s guidelines on how to support others without spreading the infection.
Wash your hands thoroughly before taking flyers out of the printer and put the leaflets directly into a Ziploc bag (a small pile up to about 40).
Don’t stockpile excess flyers.
It is important to follow safety guidelines when distributing leaflets to ensure that as far as possible we are not exposing people to the virus and putting anyone at more harm. Here are some guidelines that everyone distributing leaflets should follow. You should not do this if you are ill at all.
Do not distribute flyers if you are unwell at all, even if you’re only experiencing mild symptoms.
Flyers should be stored in smaller piles within Ziploc bags
Listen to social distancing guidelines and don’t distribute in large groups.
When leafleting in small groups, avoid physical contact or exchanging resources.
Make sure to wash your hands well before starting and use hand sanitizer if you are able to at regular intervals.
Wear gloves where possible.
Only one person should handle flyers from each ziplocked pack, putting them directly from the bag through the door for each house and minimizing contact as far as possible
Make sure to wash your hands after you are finished too
Where to distribute posters/flyers:
Posters can be put up around the local area to spread awareness. Some ideas of places to put them are:
Community noticeboards (try religious centers, libraries, community centers, blocks of flats)
Shop and cafe windows and noticeboards (ask for permission!)