Loneliness due to isolation became a concern as the pandemic lockdown began in March 2020. Kensal Green Mutual Aid and Mapesbury Mutual Aid decided to run a Friendly Phone Calls initiative for the wider community. It has been really beneficial for both volunteers and residents who come from diverse backgrounds with both genders that include the elderly and young. Please get in touch with Kensal or Mapesbury wards.
Since 22nd August 2020, we found quite a few of our volunteers wanted to help the local youth recover some of the lost time that COVID-19 had caused in their education. The wonderful Mora Primary School was willing to let us use their premises and advertise the scheme to those in their community most in need of the extra support. We have approximately 45 pupils aged 6-17 years old, supported by approximately 15 brilliant regular tutors. We have Science, Maths, English Art, Drama and Music, and soon we hope to also run a gardening project where pupils will be able to plant and tend to their own vegetables. It is incredibly local, bringing together people from all different backgrounds to learn together every Saturday morning and provide a new sense of community for all those involved. Please feel free to contact us on if you have any ideas how we can continue to grow and expand the horizons of our young people or if you would like any advice about how to launch such a project in another local area.
Brent Mutual Aid has been working closely with Brent NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to support the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. We have approximately 130 volunteers who are trained and DBS checked to support this program. We are currently volunteering at Primary Care Network (PCN) sites, Pop-up clinics, GP surgeries where volunteers are able to assist from admin roles to coordinating patients from entry to exit of the site(s). However, we are equally prepared to take neighbours to vaccinations appointments across the majority of our wards if they need help.
Please contact your nearest ward if you would like further information or would like to volunteer for this programme.
At the beginning of the year a Brent CliMAte Group (name yet to be confirmed) was set up with the view of mobilising local engagement on Brent’s Climate Draft Strategy consultation (which closed on 15th January) and in support of the Brent Environmental Network (BEN), which was recently set up ‘for residents, businesses, schools and community groups so that we can work together to tackle this emergency and share information and resources’ as well as ‘finance local carbon reduction projects through Brent’s Carbon Offset Fund’. The key areas under review here and which BEN aims to deliver on by 2030 are:
- Consumption, resources and waste - Transport - Homes and buildings - Nature and green spaces - Supporting communities
The group has held a meeting since to discuss thoughts and ideas in connection with the aims laid out in the strategy and also met with members of the Brent Council Climate Emergency Strategy Management team. Some group members have joined the BEN Advisory Group, which aims to draw on the voices of the wider community and other organisations.
In addition to that, the idea for the group is to raise awareness locally around the key themes, organise initiatives, form partnerships and ensure accountability from the government on the delivery of actions.
Building on the success of the Kensal Green gardening initiative, Mutual Aid has kicked off a bigger initiative to grow food for our communities in Brent. We aim to develop and run community food-growing spaces in collaboration with local residents, council, charities and other organisations in order to make fresh organically grown fruit and vegetables more accessible to the wider community, nurture food growing knowledge and skills among community members, as well as promote health and wellbeing. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an expressed demand for fresh fruit and vegetables among community members, as identified by Mutual Aid volunteers taking calls from local residents. Many people have felt isolated and disconnected throughout the lockdown and there has been a strong grassroots response from communities expressing a wish to connect and support one another. There is a growing body of evidence that community projects, gardening and being in nature are good for mental and physical health.
As we start the slow ascent out of lockdown, the Brent Solidarity Fund (BSF) needs you more than ever! During lockdown we’ve given over £7,400 in grants to people in Brent who were in need and our applications are going up as the impact of the past year continues to be felt by many. We will continue to be here to support our community, but we need your help.