Communities are forming ‘mutual aid groups’ to help people in need during the coronavirus outbreak

By Helen Johnson
Monday, 16th March 2020, 3:51 pm
Updated Monday, 16th March 2020, 3:52 pm
As cases of coronavirus in the UK continue to rise, it is heartwarming to see communities coming together to look out for their most vulnerable members (Photo: Shutterstock)
As cases of coronavirus in the UK continue to rise, it is heartwarming to see communities coming together to look out for their most vulnerable members (Photo: Shutterstock)

As cases of coronavirus in the UK continue to rise, it is heartwarming to see communities coming together to look out for their most vulnerable members.

From delivering prescriptions and food parcels to walking dogs, there may be things that those in self-isolation can no longer do, and may need a little help with.

Multitude of aid groups being created to help those in need

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    Around the country, different aid groups are being created to help those that may need it, with the list continuing to grow.

    These groups have been formed to offer practical support for those in self-isolation, alongside phone calls.

    Volunteers are also organising WhatsApp and Facebook groups, and holding meetings online.

    The Facebook groups are being linked nationally by Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK.

    Anna Vickerstaff, one of the coordinators, said, “No matter what we look like, where we live, or how much money we have, getting sick reminds us that at our core we’re all just human.

    “And in every country it’s the old, the sick and those already struggling who will be affected worse. That’s why we set this network up – because we want to make sure that no one in our communities is being left to face this crisis alone, and because we want to try and redress some of the serious inequalities this outbreak will expose.”

    University lecturer, Becky Wass, 32, came up with a postcard designed to help those who are staying away from others, which has the hashtag #viralkindness.

    The card has different categories that people might need help with, including posting mail, a friendly phone call and picking up shopping,

    These postcards are now being dropped at doorsteps across the UK, with the idea already spreading as far as Australia.

    The blank card template is available to download online so people can print them at home.

    The design includes boxes in which neighbours in need can write their name, address, phone number, and details of what volunteers might be able to help with.

    These are the symptoms of coronavirus (Photo WHO)

    Keeping up to date with official guidance

    However, although these mutual aid groups are showing real community spirit and helping those in need, a councillor in London expressed the importance of receiving official guidance about making physical contact with strangers in regards to inadvertently spreading the virus.

    A councillor in Lambeth, Ed Davie, tweeted, "Mutual aid groups show real community spirit but please wait for official guidance before making physical contact with strangers.

    "We don't want to inadvertently spread virus or enable vulnerable people to be exploited."

    To keep up to date on the government’ response to coronavirus, visit:

    For more information about the signs and symptoms of coronavirus, visit:

    Coronavirus: the facts

    What is coronavirus?

    COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

    What caused coronavirus?

    The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

    How is it spread?

    As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

    What are the symptoms?

    The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

    What precautions can be taken?

    Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

    Government advice

    As of the 12 March the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days. People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.

    Should I avoid public places?

    Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

    What should I do if I feel unwell?

    Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

    When to call NHS 111

    NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.

    Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS