A host of community groups have been created in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak to help the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions who need to self-isolate.   

The Covid-19 mutual aid groups serve as a forum where people can share information, volunteer help, or ask for it if they are in need.   

The groups are about neighbours and community members looking out for each other to help contain the spread of the virus and support those most at risk.   

Help can include offering essential items, picking up groceries, running errands, making calls, or just offering a friendly voice on the phone if people are lonely.   

Online group Covid-19 Mutual Aid has a list of local groups on its website.

The umbrella organisation also warned that while Facebook and WhatsApp are good organising platforms, they might not be the easiest way for vulnerable to find and contact groups.   

Sticking up leaflets with contact and general information around the area and dropping them off at homes can be helpful, with large writing for those who are visually impaired.   

The organisation recommends setting up a group if people wish to help, the smaller and more local the better.   

In Southwark, the following have already been created, although groups continue to be added: 

Peckham Rye Station area Mutual Aid 

Copleston Parish Mutual Aid – Peckham  

Chaucer Ward, Southwark – Covid-19 Comm support 

Southwark Mutual Aid Covid 19 

Surrey Docks Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group 

London Bridge West Bermondsey Mutual Aid Covid-19 

WhatsApp groups per street are available in this document

Aside from Covid-19 Mutual Aid, other groups looking for volunteers to support residents who are self-isolating or socially distancing include Nunhead Knocks and Next Door. 

If people want to volunteer they can also contact Community Southwark, the local umbrella body for the voluntary and community sector to offer support. 

The council recommends taking the following steps if you plan to volunteer. 

“If you feel at all unwell, do not volunteer. 

“Wash your hands regularly, especially before and after you deliver any items. 

“Try to support people who live close to you so you don’t travel longer distances. 

“Don’t bring people together face to face, be mindful of the governments advice on social distancing and isolating people at greater risk from Covid-19. 

“If you make a delivery, stay two meters away from the person who is in isolation at all times. Place the items outside their door and then step away. 

“Be careful about how you share personal information about yourself and other people. 

“Be careful about taking money and how many people may be more vulnerable to fraud at this time,” it posted.