As time goes on, MMA continues to adapt in alignment with the changing needs of our community. While some of our ways of working remain consistent, such as the pharmacy rota and community phone roster, we are seeing a change in needs and requirements. As a result of how things are evolving, we are adapting initiatives and creating new ones.
The financial implications of COVID-19 for many families have meant that we are being contacted by residents about more complex cases. These vary in type but include Advice4Renters referral, help with applying for credit and grants, and generally being a starting point for people who are in more complicated situations. Mapesbury Mutual Aid is also heavily involved with the Solidarity fund which will provide assistance to Brent residents who are struggling financially without an obligation to pay back money received. The aim is to have this fund up and running in August. In addition, as Mutual Aid Food Willesden is going to close at the end of August, we’re looking to put a referral system in place to ensure that families are still able to access food support as we believe that the need will continue.
The ramifications for children and their education is evident and another focus of ours as we explore ways that we can support them through this very unique time. This includes returning to school, and working with volunteer teachers to arrange tuition groups for those who could not ordinarily afford extra help.
Communal areas continue to be a source of comfort for many in their local area, especially for those who are still restricted in terms of travel. We have been looking at community vegetable garden maintenance and volunteer engagement for those with green hands.
We recognise that the emotional and mental toll on many during this time has been difficult and we are developing the idea of a Friendship Bench Walk and Talk. This would involve volunteers being trained in CBT techniques so that they could offer a ‘listening bench’ alongside friendly walks with residents. We are also sharing details of charities like Elders Voice, which volunteers are able to sign up to in order to support the older members of our community.
The work and plan is ongoing and our aim is to be nimble to adapt where necessary to meet the evolving requirements of our residents.