There has been an amazing response from volunteers from the Thornton Heath Mutual Aid group who have joined forces on a WhatsApp group to organise a task force of local helpers who are distributing leaflets offering support, delivering food parcels, picking up prescriptions and just listening to anyone who needs assistance.

They have posted hundreds of leaflets through residents letterboxes providing contact with the outside world for those self isolating and live alone or without support.

Many requests are from adult children contacting the group directly asking for help for elderly relatives who they can’t get to as they don’t live nearby. For example one woman living in Canada put out a pleas for assistance for her diabetic mum who hadn’t been eating properly for over a week, while another was from a resident simply requesting for milk.

Kim Standing, who is the admin for the Thornton Heath Covid Mutual Aid WhatsApp said: “I think Thornton Heath has been amazing how they have responded.  It makes me really proud to live here with my kids.  It would be lovely to reach more people so anyone who could leaflet, even a few homes on their street would be brilliant. I think moving forward we could do with coordinating volunteers who speak multiple languages and having posters in multiple languages in key places. Such as supermarkets.

This group has shown me that we have so many people wanting to reach out and help no one has to be isolated right now we just need to reach everyone we can. Whether people need help with picking up shopping or a friendly  chat.

“I know this has touched others as much as it has me. People are so thankful not only for the support but to know that people care and that’s so lovely for me to hear. “

Danielle Cleary, who is visually impaired, said: “They say ever cloud has silver lining and Covid-19 is definitely a cloud but the silver lining is definitely the community spirit shown in the WhatsApp group and how everybody is so willing to do what they can for other people. I am in the shielded group so  not able to go out and physically help people but I like to hope that  information that I reshare when perhaps other people don’t have time is useful to new members. I certainly know from my own point of view that people have dropped me stuff that I needed and just been so kind and helpful.

I just really hope that the community spirit lives on past this horrible time . It is definitely brilliant to be involved with the group and see how everyone is just willing to do what ever they can for each other.”

Hannah Arkwright who is looking after Woodville Road, said: “I’ve always found Thornton Heath to be much friendlier than other parts of London I’ve lived in. With the current situation I’m very aware I only know my immediate neighbours and that there could be others living nearby needing help and support who didn’t know who to contact or how to get in touch so thought it best to try and contact everyone using the leaflets. Volunteering makes me feel less powerless and keeps me away from the rolling news. Hopefully it will also encourage our community to look out for each other.”

Rachel Kingston said: “For me it means a chance to be useful and help keep others safe at a very strange and unsettling time. I’ve had three responses to my leaflets so far, all from people living on my road who I’d never met before. Managed to get some shopping for one, share some info about help available for those who are self employed with another, and help the third get her medication delivered. Will be doing some more shopping g when I go out at the end of the week too. None of it difficult or time-consuming – which is important for me as I’m also a single parent attempting to home educate(ish) and work from home full time – but helped people with what they needed.

Daisy Narula said: “I spent the afternoon delivering food parcels to those in need, donated to a local food bank. One woman, who clearly needed medical support, had been living in a hotel for three months. I’m thankful for the roof over my head and my health.”

Edi Ska who is helping residents in the Gillet and Garnet Road flats, said: “I only just started as I was in self isolation until the end of last week. I went to give away a few masks and gloves to the elderly in Gillett Road and they were so grateful and happy for that gesture. It really warmed my heart. I don’t think most of people realise that they don’t need to cope on their own and go out to risk catching the virus. I hope many of them will contact me for help. I’ll be more than happy to do something for them, as someone did to me when I was in self – isolation. I just wish there was a test to find out if I already contracted and got over the virus, so I could fully immerse in volunteering without a fear.”

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