This map of all volunteer community groups in the UK contains all known Coronavirus volunteer community groups that have been set up – the map will be updated and issued weekly as more are launched.
More than 1,000 volunteer groups have launched in the space of a week to help isolated people during the pandemic.
An army of people have joined coronavirus Mutual Aid online groups to deliver goods to those unable to leave home in their areas.
Within days of the first Facebook page launching in south London, a UK-wide network of organisations has now formed – some of which have thousands of members already.
Map of all volunteer community groups in the UK – will be updated weekly
HOW TO USE THE MAP
- Use the location icon to pinpoint where you are – location services on your device browser must be ‘allowed’ – or just pinch / drag [ mobile ] or use -/+ zoom [desktop] on the map until you arrive at your location. You can use ‘full screen’ view too.
2. Hover over a pulsing circle for the group details.
3. Almost all are Facebook groups – the Facebook group web addresses in the popups aren’t clickable, in most cases just search Facebook for the group name, or note the url ( website address ). At least you know someone is there to help to.
Users of the groups have described them as a vital boost with NHS services likely to be stretched in the coming weeks.
Though people in need of them are being urged to be wary of potential scammers, especially when handing over money.
Co-ordinator for the national Covid-19 Mutual Aid umbrella group Kelsey Mohamed, 28, said the response had been ‘overwhelming’.
“It shows us what’s possible when we prioritise simple compassion,” she said. “People are self-organising with incredible efficiency, respect and creativity.”
Many of the groups formed through a templated leaflet being delivered through letterboxes in a particular area.
Seren John-Wood , 24, helped set up the first mutual aid group in Lewisham, south London, on Thursday, March 12.
The theatre worker and her housemates distributed hundreds of leaflets around their local area asking if people needed deliveries of food or medicine.
Shortly afterwards, the friends decided to launch an umbrella organisation to guide the various groups around the UK.
Its website displays a map of the volunteer groups they know of from the tip of Cornwall to Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Some cover a single street, others a neighbourhood, ward or town.
In Lewisham, the support network has grown to the extent those in need of assistance are marking their windows with a red piece of card. There are now 4,000 members on the local Covid-19 Mutual Aid page.
Nicola Spurr, 46, who works for non-profit organisations, set up a WhatsApp thread in Westminster on Saturday.
She quickly saw hundreds of people volunteer to shop for the elderly, deliver medicine and walk dogs.
She said: “I’ve lived in Lancaster Gate for two years and I’ve never really spoken to my neighbours. London can be a bit like that, it can be a lonely place.
“But we saw this huge outpouring of solidarity and neighbourliness straight away.”
Dieticians, therapists and dementia specialists were among some of the people offering their services for free.
But there are concerns criminals could take advantage of informal set ups to exploit the vulnerable.
In Brighton and Hove, a councillor is creating an ID card with a space for a photograph to ensure the helper is who they say they are.
Mutual Aid is advising its groups to check up on who is offering help to make sure they have done the right thing.
A post to a national group said: “If you are giving or receiving help, tell someone, a friend, family member, or someone on this group, what the plan is.
“Even if you think you’re the most savvy person ever, ask them if something sounds off.”
In most cases, the groups are providing hope to elderly residents who could be forced to self-isolate for four months.
Islington resident Hope Winter-Hall has a disability care package and is looking after her 92-year-old mother.
She said: “We already know that social services and the NHS were overwhelmed before this virus hit.
“I am very well prepared for months of isolation but I will be needing help before it is over.
National co-ordinator: Kelsey Mohamed, 28, Islington.
What do mutual aid groups do and why are they so important in times of crisis?
This isn’t a crisis like any that we have experienced in our lifetimes. Solidarity rather than charity is what’s required. It’s down to the basics now – food delivery, picking up prescriptions, and just checking in. This is a great leveller as everyone is affected and often the best answer to meeting immediate needs can be found very locally. We are already up and running in most major cities and over 1,500 Facebook groups have formed in the last week.
How do you feel about the way thousands have set up and joined groups in such a small space of time?
Networks like Mutual Aid are going to change society for the long-term. It has been overwhelming and moving and it shows us what’s possible when we prioritise simple compassion. People are self-organising with incredible efficiency, respect and creativity and rebuilding social capital in the most basic, human way: By helping our neighbours.
The cracks in the infrastructure of organisations that were already struggling to meet the needs of the most vulnerable are opening wider as resources run low and employees need to work from home. We are coming together to fill some of those gaps as best we can.
Many people who are self-isolating also have caring responsibilities, so one neighbour helped out a 60 year-old who normally delivers his 93 year-old dad’s weekly shop by doing it for him, and I was able to pick up a prescription for a friend’s granny who lives round the corner.
We’ve managed to organise to collect food from local businesses that are closing to distribute locally too.
A man who has a commercial kitchen is being forced to shut down in three weeks. He told our group “that’s three weeks when we can prepare meals for anyone who has bikes and is willing to deliver them.”
Neighbours who didn’t know each other before, do now, and we’re all in a whatsapp chat together. Flyers have gone through all the letterboxes in my neighbourhood.
What precautions do you advise groups to take so as not to spread the virus further?
It’s critical to follow official advice such as self-isolating if you’re showing symptoms, washing hands and following physical distancing. We all have a responsibility to contain the virus. But, we must not lose momentum as we face these challenging weeks and things get much harder for people. It’s the time to be creative and work around this virus, even if that’s online and by phone.
Map of all volunteer community groups in the UK contains all known Coronavirus volunteer community groups that have been set up – 21 March 2020.