Lambeth Mutual Aid Update: 14th April 2020
Thanks for signing up to volunteer! You’re one of over 1,100 people in Lambeth who registered to join this mutual aid volunteer group and support our community through this difficult time.
As our first piece of outreach, we wanted to give you an update on recent activities, make some requests and share some ideas for new projects that you can help with:
- Lambeth Mutual Aid update – Activities so far
- New Open Collective account – How we use donations
- BAME volunteers – Representing our diverse community
- Upcoming training sessions – Volunteer as a phone responder
- Police monitoring
- Project support – Volunteer communications
- Project support – Housing Support Group
- Project support – Updating resources on our website
- Other project ideas and suggestions – Can you help?
Please read on to find out more and get in touch at email@example.com if you have questions, ideas or requests for this group.
Remember! Our freephone number – 0800 009 6504 – is up and running 8am-8pm, all seven days of the week, staffed by a fabulous (and growing) group of you answering phones, logging requests and getting help to neighbours that need it. A volunteer has put together these fab images showing our details – please do share these out to help spread the word. Also, please remember that mutual aid is about supporting each other horizontally – so definitely reach out if you need support, too. View fullsize View fullsize
Sending well wishes to you all.
Lambeth Mutual Aid
** Activities so far
Thanks to those involved in mutual aid efforts across the borough! Through the Freephone number we’ve been able to help almost 100 self-isolating individuals of all ages and means get food, medicines, household essentials, and, in one case, a washing machine. As a resource working across Lambeth, we’re able to take requests from residents across the borough and find a local volunteer who can help them – either through our own networks or by connecting with local mutual aid groups.
In most cases, a volunteer has responded to a request for help within hours – for those who have found themselves in a frightening situation that they couldn’t have anticipated even a few weeks ago, this is providing comfort, reassurance and hope.
It’s given lots of people a lot of pride in their community to see people responding so quickly and full-heartedly to others in need. We hope we can continue to be helpful to one another.
We’re looking to get people involved in a variety of ways (see later on in the newsletter!) so we can move beyond what we’re currently doing to support our neighbours in other ways! If you have any ideas please get in touch!
**Open Collective account
We’ve set up an account with Open Collective, a financial hosting platform. Through people making donations, we are building up a pot of money that will be used to help support people who aren’t able to pay for shopping, or who need help with their bills.
For the time being we will only be paying out expenses to requests completed through the Lambeth Mutual Aid Freephone number (0800 009 6504) so we can make sure that the expenses are going to the right places – but we will be looking to expand this service in the future to help as many people as possible!†
If you are interested in donating – great! You can choose if you want to do a one off donation, or make your donation regular, and customise how much you want to give! Donations can be named or anonymous, and Open Collective allows us to be fully transparent about how much has been raised and where the money goes.
You can check it out here! https://opencollective.com/lambethmutualaid
If we end up not spending it all (unlikely, but good to have a contingency plan!), the remaining money will be donated to two local charities Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL) and the UK QTIBIPOC Emergency relief & Hardship Fund. Be sure to take a look at them both. They’re ace!
†By the way – if you think this is something you’d be good at coordinating, or want to use this system in your local group, please drop us an email! firstname.lastname@example.org
** BAME Callout
We want our dispatch and Freephone teams to be representative of the people we’re supporting, and we want to be able to take leadership from members of all communities in our area.
However, our Dispatch and Freephone teams currently are overtly white. In an area where 60% of people are Black, Asian or another ethnic minority† we would like this not to be the case! If you are Black, Asian, Latin-American or any other ethnic minority and would like to be involved in either of these teams, or more broadly in organising with us, please send us an email at email@example.com.
If you’re unsure about organising in an overtly-white team, we can put you in touch with one of our BME members to answer any questions you may have. You don’t need to have any previous organising experience to get involved!
†We understand many people don’t like these terms. They are imperfect and far too general, but we use them as they’re commonly understood. We respect everyone’s identities and what words they choose to represent them.
** Upcoming training sessions – Become a phone volunteer
We’re next running training sessions for volunteers to answer our helpline on Wednesday (15th April, 6pm) and Saturday (18th April, 12:30pm). If you would like to volunteer as a telephone responder, please submit your details into this form to be sent details for the session of your choice.
Training is conducted over a group video call; phone responders do not need special equipment (only a computer and a phone) and can volunteer from their own home (we have many people volunteering who are themselves self-isolating!). If you have questions, please submit them to the form and we’ll make sure to cover them in one of the upcoming sessions.
As mentioned above, we’ll be prioritising folks from BAME backgrounds.
** Police monitoring
On the 23rd of March, 2020, the government announced a three week lockdown, granting the police sweeping powers to disperse, fine, and detain members of the public. The Coronavirus Bill also increases police and state powers for two years.
Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BME) people are more likely to be targeted by the police, and make up 60% of Lambeth’s population.
We have created this form to monitor police interactions with people in Lambeth, and encourage anyone to submit accounts of what happened with them. They can be published anonymously or not.
For more information, check out:
** Project support – Volunteer communications
Writing beautiful, engaging emails isn’t quite our forte – but maybe it’s yours? And maybe you have ideas for how to keep volunteers informed and proud of the work they’re supporting? Though without overdoing it – we know inboxes are full of COVID-mail at the moment…
We think there’s a need for messages like this once in a while – people are keen to know how to get involved and help their community. We think that this is something one or two people could help with, coordinating with the working groups to understand what volunteers would find useful to know and what channels to share this information with.
Could you help? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Volunteer Comms)
** Project support – Housing Working Group
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, we’d like to help support those in insecure accommodation around Lambeth. The council and other groups have been working quickly to ensure that rough sleepers are housed and fed, and we’d like to encourage this work, and ensure that it continues long after the crisis has stopped. As a borough, we have shown that it is possible to massively reduce rough sleeping in a very short space of time. We’d also like to extend this to support people in insecure housing, and housing at risk of demolition for ‘regeneration’. We think this is a vital time to discuss the housing inequality in the borough and to look for positive solutions which centre the voices of the people actually in the insecure housing, rather than the project managers, landlords, estate agents and other people who benefit financially from housing.
If you’d like to be involved please send us an email at email@example.com (Subject: Housing Working Group)
** Project support – Updating resources on our website
We have a list of useful links on our website “resources” page. We’re not looking to create something that is fully comprehensive, but there are many local organisations looking for volunteers or support at this time. Having a section called “Other ways to help” might be useful for many of you who want to know what’s needed at this time.
Have useful links you want to send us or details of official campaigns? Or other resources relevant to this lockdown period that people will find useful? Email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject: Resources). We can’t promise everything will go up – we will be using discretion to limit the circulation of misinformation or the promotion of items that go against community values.
** Other project ideas or suggestions?
We’re a self-organised group of individuals. If you think there’s something that we could do together that would help the local community, post your idea into this suggestions document.
Take a look at all that’s on there, add your comments, suggestions and questions. If you think we should take an idea forward, email email@example.com and tell us if you want to help coordinate this. If other people feel it would be useful – let’s make it happen!