The COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus the importance of community support to help the most vulnerable. While thankfully the peak has passed, unfortunately the virus has not left us and there are already concerns of a second wave as we head into the winter. Moreover, the economic and social consequences are likely to linger much longer than the pandemic, e.g. unemployment, money problems, fear, anxiety leaving the house, educational challenges, and poor health for those who were unable to access a hospital treatment or who have suffered long-term conditions as a result of contracting COVID-19.
We have been extremely lucky to have a longstanding community magazine as well as neighbourhood groups. This has allowed us to respond quickly, with the Mutual Aid group providing additional support for those areas which were not covered, or for those volunteers wanting to do more.
We can now see there is scope for Northwick Park Mutual Aid to better connect and coordinate with these neighbourhood groups. Addressing these issues by partnering with other nearby Mutual Aid groups who are looking to achieve similar outcomes.
Of course, as the virus has abated, there is always the worry that volunteers’ interest and availability may too - especially now that lockdown has eased and many people are returning to work. We need to continually find ways to keep the interest and enthusiasm going in order to meet current needs, and must be ready to remobilise and re-energise if a second wave arrives. This is perhaps going to be the greatest challenge going forward.