Lambeth Mutual Aid Update 2nd May 2020

Hi there!

Thanks for all your support over the last month. Here is the second update about what we’ve been up to, and how you can get involved! We realise that lots of people are keen to get involved in projects, but aren’t sure where to start or what to do. We don’t have all the answers, but we believe that together we can build strong, positive systems and structures outside of state bureaucracy to support each other! 

  • Donate!
  • Freephone Update
  • RTKW & Sharing info with the Police
  • Project Support – Food distribution
  • Project Support – Database Support
  • Project Support –  Housing Support Group
  • Project Support – Police Monitoring
  • Project Support – Updating resources on our website
  • Other project ideas and suggestions – Can you help?
  • Follow us! 

** Donate!

We’ve set up an Open Collective page to allow us to support people regardless of whether they can pay for shopping or not. At the time of writing, we’ve paid out 60 expense claims! To do this we need regular donations,if you are able, please help out! Open Collective is great because it’s completely open (we don’t handle the cash at all), it’s regulated by an independent financial host (ours is the Social Change Agency), and you can completely dictate how much you give and how regularly! If you can share this around – please do! The more money we raise, the more people we can help! 

** Freephone Update – New dispatchers and new group!

We have had an amazing response for help with the freephone system. We’ve got a load of new phone handlers (people receiving calls) and dispatchers (people linking requesters up with people in their area/street who can help) so we can keep the phone lines open 8am-8pm every day! We’ve also set up a new WhatsApp group for Gipsy Hill and Knight’s Hill to allow us to have the same referrals system for the freephone number Lambeth-wide. There is already a big peer to peer support group for West Norwood, please join it if you would like to be involved in that as well! 

** Mutual Aid Groups Sharing Info with the Police

We have been made aware that some groups are sharing people’s data with the police and other government agencies, often without their explicit consent. We’d like to strongly advise against this. 

Firstly, in the cases we have seen, this data sharing policy has almost certainly been in violation of GDPR, opening groups to the possibility of sanction by the ICO. Secondly, some of those most in need of our assistance are people that are keen to avoid contact with official institutions. If we are seen to be working too closely with such institutions, these people are unlikely to ask us for help (as discussed in the Independent article ). We urge all groups to maintain their independence and support those who are too often excluded or forgotten by official relief efforts.

In Lambeth specifically, it has come to our attention that a local group has been sharing its members’ data with the local Metropolitan Police. This group is called “RTKW Virus Support” and is based in the Clapham Park Area. Although mentioned in their “Personal Data Policy”, we believe this policy was not communicated transparently and there are people whose data is being shared to the police without their consent. If you have joined “RTKW Virus Support” and need support around getting your data deleted by the group admin and the police, please get in touch. 

** Project support – Food distribution

There are loads of amazing food distribution and outreach projects ongoing in Lambeth! Some are run by individuals, some by families, some by community groups and some by charities or larger orgs like the Council. We’d like to put together a working group to either support some of these smaller initiatives and widen the scope of their support, or to start something of our own up. We’ve been contacted by a number of groups. Some we think we can help, some we don’t have the capacity for at the moment. But your involvement could change that! If you’re interested in the logistics, planning and cooking for food distribution let us know and we’ll try to connect you up! 

If you’d like to be involved please send us an email at (Subject: Food Distribution Working Group)

** Project support – Database Support

As we’re improving our freephone system, we’re also thinking about updating from using a basic spreadsheet to using databases to store (and delete) data. We want to allow a bit more versatility in how we manage our systems and how we can change them if necessary. Are you a tech wizz that can support us with this? 

If you’d like to be involved please send us an email at (Subject: Database Support)

** Project support – Housing Support Group

COVID-19 has further exposed the inequality within our society. Homelessness and rough sleeping have rightly been tackled by the council and charities, and we would like to see this continued! We now have a small group working on how we can support those in sheltered/supported accommodation. We’re working with local sites to see what help and support we can offer, ideally putting small local volunteer teams in place for any accommodations that need assistance.

We’d like to extend our remit to temporary or insecure housing as well and would welcome extra people to assist with that.

If you’d like to be involved please send us an email at (Subject: Housing Working Group)

** Project support – Police Monitoring

We’ve set up a form for people to register any interactions with the police in Lambeth during this crisis. We’re keen to set up a working group to further expand on this work and link up with groups such as London Campaign Against Police and State Violence, Netpol, Stopwatch and others to ensure that all members of our communities are kept safe and that the police are held to account. 

If you’d like to be involved please send us an email at (Subject: Police Monitoring)

** Project support – Updating resources on our website

Since our last update we’ve been adding to and updating our resources section. We’re going to be adding an education section amongst other things. Have a look at it and let us know what you think!

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 (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 and tell us if you want to help coordinate this. If other people feel it would be useful – let’s make it happen!

** Follow us!

We’re also now on twitter! You can find us at