Research Project

Communities vs. Coronavirus: The Rise of Mutual Aid
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The public response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a source of much-needed hope. Thousands of spontaneous, voluntary Mutual Aid groups have emerged to support the most vulnerable people in our society. They are supplying food and medicine, connecting with those who are lonely, and organising community resources. In many cases these groups have been able to help people far more rapidly and flexibly than traditional public services.

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This report argues that the Mutual Aid phenomenon is a powerful demonstration what’s possible when communities come together. Yet for community collaboration to outlast this crisis and make our places more resilient in future, lessons must be learnt. In order for this to occur, we draw out the following lessons and recommendations:

Lessons:

1) Mutual Aid groups have been an indispensable part of our COVID response
2) They demonstrate the wider potential of community power
3) Councils have significant influence over their viability and success
4) Mutual Aid groups function better in areas where social capital is more developed
5) Their small scale is key to their success

Recommendations:

1) Council’s should play a facilitative role in their interactions with Mutual Aid Groups
2) They should be supported in doing this with a community support financial package from central government
3) Employment policies and practices that support flexible working should be championed by government at all levels

Publication Date: 14 July 2020
Authored by: Luca Tiratelli and Simon Kaye

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