ABOUT HARLESDEN MUTUAL AID
DEFINITION : Mutual aid is “cooperation for the sake of the common good.”
It’s getting people to come together to meet each other’s needs, recognising that as humans, our survival is dependent on one another
The Harlesden Mutual Aid (HMA) group was set up and local residents quickly signed up. HMA took a more informal approach and several offshoot groups were formed. One group printed and distributed 5000 leaflets. Others volunteered to shop and pick up prescriptions.
HMA partnered with Susan Grace, deputy head of Newman Catholic College and Daksha Versani from Community Response Kitchen (CRK). We quickly formed a volunteer driver's group made up of several people, too numerous to mention, created a simple on-line food request form and started delivering meals to various vulnerable people and hostels. Servicing and delivering over ninety meals daily the Harlesden area which borders Kensal Green, Stonebridge and Willesden. This has now reduced down to four days a week.
The other aspect to be managed was the regular fresh food bank every Friday courtesy of Fresh Horizons CNB, supplied mainly through The Felix Project and City Harvest London. Julia from HMA was appointed lead in absence of Michael Goss. Previously, residents had been allowed in the premises to browse and choose groceries but this format had to change, therefore we implemented social distancing measures. Tickets were issued to residents to enable us to do a count allowing us to pack bags accordingly. We had to reduce the amount of volunteers from around twelve to approximately eight. Food arrived and was laid out as before but the volunteers packed the bags on behalf of the residents. We put an internal one way system in the building to allow us to practice social distancing as best we could, wearing masks and providing hand gel. The community got behind us and donated bags, egg boxes and other food containers.Meanwhile, for the residents we placed social distancing tape outside on the premises for queuing and again implementing a one way system. Bags were handed out at the door. In many respects this approach of pre packing bags has been fairer as everyone had a bag of groceries, with further appropriate groceries given to larger households or those with babies and children.
We would like to thank everyone involved with all aspects of HMA.