case studies

How a Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group stays Connected

Olivia Maier

Olivia Maier

4 min read

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, there have been amazing individuals and groups that are dedicating their time to helping others. In England, there have been many mutual aid groups that have popped up, all focused on helping their local communities. We recently spoke with Rafie, a volunteer with the Rotherhithe Covid19 Mutual Aid Group based out of Rotherhithe, U.K. The organization has been able to serve their community, and have been taking advantage of to get the job done.

What does the Rotherhithe Covid19 Mutual Aid Group do?

Many of the recommendations and regulations surrounding COVID-19 focus on self-isolating, limiting your exposure to others. However, there are necessary tasks that by definition include exposure to others, whether that is waiting in line at a pharmacy to pick up medications, or going to busy stores to pick up your weekly groceries.

For the most vulnerable populations, and those showing symptoms of the virus, it can seem like an impossible situation. You don’t want to go out into public, but you need things like groceries to survive. That’s where groups like the Rotherhithe Covid19 Mutual Aid Group come in.

They provide a variety of resources to their community, making it more feasible for individuals to practice self-isolation. They can offer food delivery, medication delivery, and even space for individuals to talk about the current situation.

How does the Rotherhithe Covid19 Mutual Aid Group work?

As Rafie says, “we’re just a collection of random people, that are local, that just want to help out however we can.” Well, this collection of people have been able to find a system that has made it possible to respond to over 80 requests for help to date. The group has a methodical approach that makes it possible to help as many people, as quickly as possible. They do this through using Slack, Yodel, and according to Rafie “many excel sheets”

They start by providing a phone number for people to call, which has been made publicly available through social media posts, and flyers around the community. The call will be answered by one of the many telephone volunteers, who record the request.

The request will be responded to by a different volunteer who can go pick up the requested items at the necessary shops. The volunteer will then drop off the requested items while still following social distancing protocols.

What makes this all possible?

This group has been able to run with many of the volunteers never meeting in person. This has been made possible by the technology they use to run this organization remotely.

They can use Slack to communicate with the volunteers and have implemented Yodel as a part of their process. The ability to provide one phone number that volunteers can access through their personal mobile phones or computers has been crucial to running the group, with Rafie saying that “Yodel enabled us to respond to so many people so quickly”

And, Rafie was “amazed at how quickly people picked [Yodel] up” Having the technology there is an easy to use format makes it easy for telephone volunteers to jump right into responding to callers.

The best part of using for this group has been the way their callers have benefitted. Many of the individuals they serve are older, and wouldn’t feel comfortable reaching out through social media, or email. While the backend of gives the group many high-tech capabilities, for their callers it’s the same as calling any phone number.

At the end of the day

We are all trying to get through these changing, and challenging times. Individuals like Rafie and the organization he is a part of have been able to make a difference, and have helped so many people already. While the pandemic continues, we will all continue to be challenged. It is inspiring to see how people can rise to that challenge and the groups that make every day a little bit easier.

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