A huge humanitarian aid effort has been launched to help the borough’s elderly and vulnerable. In just over two weeks over 3,000 Croydon residents have joined Croydon Covid-19 Mutual Aid (CCMA) to help serve their neighbours and the most vulnerable through the coronavirus crisis.
In an unprecedented wave of grassroots action, these volunteers are organised locally, with over 60 WhatsApp and Facebook groups covering neighbourhoods including Thornton Heath. Throughout the following pages you read about selfless acts of kindness of food banks and multiple volunteers offering help.
In the next week there are plans to launch a borough wide help line which will be manned by volunteers with calls rooted to local groups to provide instant help but also a friendly voice for those struggling with loneliness and isolation.
The groups spread through social media, but also through the generosity of Matthew’s Yard, a creative hub and former café in the borough, who printed and helped distribute over 50,000 flyers through volunteers across the borough, extending offers of help to those without internet access.
rooted to local groups to provide instant help but also a friendly voice for those struggling with loneliness and isolation.
The groups spread through social media, but also through the generosity of Matthew’s Yard, who printed and helped distribute over 50,000 flyers, extending offers of help to those without internet.
The stories of neighbours helping each other are truly inspiring. Already many neighbours have collected shopping for others who are self-isolating, as well as offering friendly chats with those feeling lonely, redistributing hoarded toilet rolls and even picking up urgent medical supplies. Given the risks of contact at the present time, all volunteers are asked to follow the Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK network’s safeguarding guidelines throughout their work.
Ben Taylor, one of the admins of CCMA, said: “Seeing so many people come together in such a short time has been truly inspiring. Having connected with so many groups I have seen people of every age, with every background stand up and say they want to lend a hand to their neighbour without a second thought.”
In one particularly inspiring story, the soup kitchen run by Faiths Together on London Road was about to close through lack of food, until CCMA managed to connect them with a local food producer, Eat with Tom Mathews, that donated enough fresh produce to keep it open.
The network has also helped find young, healthy volunteers for charities such as the Nightwatch, an institution dedicated to supporting homeless people in the borough. These new young volunteers were essential to replace dedicated, long-serving older volunteers in self-isolation.
Croydon Mutual Aid is seeking to share these positive stories to raise awareness of the services that can be provided in Croydon by local people, and also to attract new volunteers.
Join the Facebook group to get involved https://www.facebook.com/groups/croydoncovid19/ whether you want to volunteer or need help.