lambethmutualaid@gmail.com

Lambeth Mutual Aid Update 26th May 2020

Lambeth Mutual Aid Update 26th May 2020

Hi!

Thanks for all your support. Here is the third update about what we’ve been up to, and how you can get involved or support in new ways! Together we can build resilient community structures to get through difficult times together. 

  • BAME Callout
  • Donations
  • Food Distribution Working Group Update
  • We need a space!
  • Casework
  • Unions
  • Website Translation

Please read on to find out more and get in touch at lambethmutualaid@gmail.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. 

BAME Callout

We’d like to start this email with a call out for more BAME* people to get involved in Lambeth Mutual Aid. 

As we mentioned in one of our last emails, we want 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. Our Casework team is no longer overtly white, but Lambeth is 60% BAME and our group in general isn’t. 

If you’re a person of colour and would like to get involved with any of the activities below, please get in touch! 

*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.

Donations

Thank you for all our generosity so far – it has allowed us to cover essential costs like food, electricity and gas for people who are in urgent need! 

We are also applying for grants to keep covering costs and find ways to make this more sustainable. You can also help make this sustainable by signing up to make regular monthly donations and sharing with your networks to encourage others to do the same! Every monthly donation no matter how big or small is really important to keep the work going. 

We currently have three types of monthly contributor:

  • Supporter
  • Bill Solidarity
  • Regular Shopper

Head over to opencollective.com/lambethmutualaid to become one today!

Food Distribution

Inspired by lots of the amazing work going on in both Lambeth and other places around the UK (most notably the Oxford Mutual Aid crew) we wanted to try and help out with the many food initiatives going on. To make sure that we weren’t doubling up on any work already done we made a(nother!) spreadsheet of the various food projects going on, reached out to them and asked how they were doing and if they wanted to be on a call between lots of other food projects. We had the call and were lucky enough to be joined by a whole host of amazing food groups, from individuals cooking in their kitchens to more established groups cooking for carers to groups who have pivoted from their usual street outreach to working out of industrial kitchens. We were also joined by Virginia from Lambeth Larder – a project mapping and co-ordinating food projects in Lambeth for a long time – who blessed us with her wealth of knowledge about how current and former projects and programmes have worked and could work in the future. The various groups on the call agreed that it would be best to communicate and work together in terms of the small pools of funding and resources (food and locations) in the spirit of mutual aid and solidarity! 

If you have a food group/project and would like to join the email chain please let us know at lambethmutualaid@gmail.com!

We have also started a little working group looking at setting up a food co-operative along the lines of Co-operation Town in Camden. The idea is to set up small, easily replicable food co-ops where members pay around £5 a month and redistribute left over food from supermarkets, topped up with food bought from local markets/shops to people/members local to the co-op. Once the co-op gets to a certain size, it splits off and forms a new co-op and so on. We like this model because it is local and sustainable. There will be quite some work involved in setting this up in terms of working out logistics, hours and protocols, but we hope once one is established, setting up more should be more simple. 

If you would like to be involved please email lambethmutualaid@gmail.com with the subject: ‘Food Co-op Working Group’ 

We need a space!

We’ve realised that there is a significant need to offer food support, so we’d like to start a local food co-operative (see above!). We would use one of the surplus food schemes to collect lots of the spare food from supermarkets and then use monthly donations (around £5) from all members of the co-operative to top up the food with supermarket shops. This food would then be distributed to local people who had requested support. 

But for this – we need a space to work out of! Do you have an empty warehouse, church hall, community centre, events space, yoga studio, etc, that can be used for this? If so, please get in touch!

Casework

Over the past month we’ve been looking at different ways to support people in a more sustainable way if they need it. We’ve been getting in touch with mental health charities (Mind, Samaritans, CAB, IAPT, togetherUK etc.) to find support for one of them with mental and eating disorders; advocating and negotiating with their threatening agency and landlord (risk of eviction); discretionary housing benefits application; liaising with Waste Not Want Not and several other food charities to provide them with emergency food until the end of the lockdown amongst other things. 

If you would like to be involved please email lambethmutualaid@gmail.com with the subject: ‘Casework Working Group’ 

Unions 

Are you feeling pressure to go back to work before you feel it’s safe? 

Maybe your employer hasn’t provided you with adequate plans to show how you will be able to social distance at work. Maybe you live with someone who is extremely vulnerable and are worried about increasing the risk to them. Maybe you have other issues coming up in your workplace.

Now is the time to join a union. Collective action is the most effective way to make your workplace safe, get proper sick pay and legal support if you are treated unfairly by your employer. 

If there is already a union branch in your workplace, contact them to join up. If not you can use this tool to find a union you can join. Find out which unions are representing your sector, email them to find out if they have any members already in your workplace. If not you can ask your preferred one to arrange a meeting with an organiser for you and your colleagues. There are other unions who are not part of the TUC, who also do great work protecting workers rights. Have a look at UVW or IWGB

Once you join up don’t just sit back, you need to be proactive to change your workplace and make it safe. Talk to your colleagues about the issues you are facing, contact your union to ask for help, and write a letter to your employer about your concerns. 

You can get in touch with the Lambeth Mutual Aid casework team if you want help signing up or finding your union.

If Your Boss Is Putting Your Life at Risk – Read This: advice from a Trade Union Organiser about what workers should do if their boss is trying to force them to return to work in unsafe conditions during the coronavirus crisis.

Website Translation

We’re currently working to translate the website into a number of different languages to make sure that our resources are accessible and open to as many people as possible. Over the course of the next few weeks the vast majority of our pages will have the option to be viewed in a range of languages spoken across Lambeth and we’ll also be working to translate the ‘how to’ sections as well.