Reigate and Redhill Covid-19 Mutual Aid
Local Liberal Democrat members have been volunteering to support our local community. The following is an update from Peter Jones. He is usually to be found leading our Climate Change group but, in this crisis has been active in helping others in our community.
As the coronavirus epidemic struck the UK in full force in March, Reigate and Redhill spontaneously mobilised, initially through posts on facebook, to form a Mutual Aid group.
Requests for mutual aid help can be registered online here: https://rrmutualaid.co.uk
after which a local volunteer will get in touch and discuss what’s needed.
The group organised itself in the space of a few days by putting posters up inviting volunteers and providing an online volunteering form. Over the next couple of weeks, about 1200 willing volunteers from Reigate and Redhill registered and were allocated to 7 areas: Reigate; Redhill, Earlswood & Whitebushes, St John’s & Meadvale, Woodhatch, South Park and Merstham.
The volunteers then delivered 1000s of leaflets to most addresses in the seven areas during March and April, each one bearing phone contact information for local volunteers to help with shopping, collecting prescriptions, dog walking and friendly phone calls, plus a link to an online form where requests for assistance could be logged. The ward coordinators were then able to identify people able to be area and street volunteers, and localised WhatsApp groups were set up to put out the call for requests to be answered.
Local and borough-wide facebook groups also sprung up to support the effort and to provide information, including publicising shops, take-away and delivery services and links to information about domestic abuse and mental health support and crucially also food bank information, with a coordinated programme of school food bank drops rolling out throughout the borough.
The food banks publish lists of items they need and also provide an opportunity for online donations:
The Mutual Aid food bank donation post can be found here:
All this has run alongside informal local residents groups, local voluntary groups, council and state provision and is intended to fill in gaps and provide a friendly local face to anyone needing a hand.
Support for neighbours is expected to be needed for months if not years to come, as we seem to be facing continuing pandemic risk. Unemployment is also expected to spike in Autumn and remain high, leading to many more people in the borough needing to use the services of the food banks, not to mention the unfortunate probability of more people with health issues needing to wait for treatment and to shield or isolate.
Thankfully there have been many more volunteers than requests for help, but the realisation is dawning that we’re in this for the long haul and this informal and friendly local support that the Mutual Aid group is likely to be around for quite some time yet. The group isn’t actively seeking volunteers at present, but if anyone knows someone who needs assistance at this difficult time, please feel free to encourage them to register online, or if they can’t do this themselves, there is an option to get in touch on behalf of others here: https://rrmutualaid.co.uk
The local facebook groups and lots more information can be found here:
Reigate & Redhill main
Earlswood & Whitebushes
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