After learning about the spread of Covid 19 throughout the UK, I realised that it would become a nationwide issue very quickly, and so I wanted to help, but was unsure how to. After seeing the County Durham Facebook page, and the call for people to produce smaller, localised mutual aid groups, I decided to create the Durham City Mutual Aid Facebook page.
As a young person, with good health, I believe it is my social responsibility to be caring for those who are in a less fortunate position than myself—especially during a global emergency such as this. Indeed, I feel that students living in Durham owe it to the local community to offer support where we can—our presence as a student body has a large effect on the local economy, which demonstrates our influence, and we should recognise our responsibility to give back to a community which provides a safe space for us to live and work in.
Offering practical help and advice
The ultimate aim of the group is to connect people on a city-wide level, so that those in need have fast access to request help, even if they are self-isolating. There is also a level of responsibility on us as admins, to ensure that factual, informative information is published, in order to reduce the influence of false articles and facts. We make sure to publish information with clear, reliable sources—referring to national/global health authorities for all medical advice. Social distancing/self-isolation is already having an unfortunate impact on people’s mental health too, so we use the group to share mindfulness/mental health advice, in the hope that this will encourage people to check in with their own minds on a regular basis.
The main focus of the group is currently centred around distributing contact details to houses, via a large body of volunteers. Our hope is to have volunteers distributed across the city, who monitor/respond to those in need on their street/in their local area.
Long term role in the community
In the long term future, I would like to use the growing basis of this group, to encourage the rebuilding of the local economy, in the wake of pandemic. I would love to see campaigns based around supporting local business, and will be looking into organising fundraisers for local charities. Although this group was fundamentally established as a way of communication, it has potential to build community spirit going forward—and will hopefully connect more students with the community that they often don’t see themselves as being part of.
I would like to thank the creator of the County Durham page, Sam Stoker, as she single-handedly put the county-wide aid movement into action, which is incredible. Also, special thanks to Stacy Porter from Durham University Volunteering, for offering her support and expertise to the group. Stacy has built an amazing network of people, who are providing the Mutual Aid group with the technical advice and connections that we need – without her it would have been impossible to connect so many people in this way,
Find out more
Visit the Durham City Mutual Aid (Covid 19) Facebook page to find out how you can get involved.