26 November 2020

Making Neighbourliness Mutual in Kensington & Chelsea

Making Neighbourliness Mutual in Kensington & Chelsea

One thousand five hundred local resident-volunteers ready to support their neighbours. Up to fifty volunteers are active on a daily basis across Kensington and Chelsea. If that isn’t a local mobilisation, we don’t know what is.

But to what end?

Neighbourliness.

K&C Mutual Aid is an unconstituted group of local residents that want to support the local community to ensure that nobody is left isolated or without support during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not-for-profit and non-political, aiming to make sure that the needs of local residents are met. That they are well fed; get the medicine they need; don’t have to endanger vulnerable loved ones by leaving the house; don’t feel alone, and feel like there’s someone out there listening and looking out for them.

“Everything from shopping and food parcels to a leaflet on your doorstep just so you know there is someone out there who can help if you get in distress,” says Nathan Cooper from K&C Mutual Aid.

“Our target is to help people who haven’t necessarily engaged with local support services before. Over 15,000 residents in our Borough alone expected to be taken off furlough; the 30-year-old freelance creative who just lost his job; the retired older lady who might be asset rich but cash poor and alone. Everyone is welcome.

“We recently launched our new Platform to around 150 local London and national support-providers, and they have been overwhelmingly positive in response.”

Mutual Aid K&C covers eight different areas across RBKC. “We have about 20 requests for help a week in our area. That’s 150 a week across London. Our complementarity with local authorities and statutory services is that we are in conversation with the people on the ground so we can react quickly and where the need is greatest. In the beginning we responded to shopping and the basic needs of the people. Now we are responding to longer-term economic problems.”

So, what are Nathan’s primary fears for how National Lockdown 2.0 will affect our residents? “Those that are shielding and uncertain as of what to do are our primary concern at the moment. Those that have to self isolate. It is the ambiguity and uncertainty experienced by these people that I worry about. Plus, the rise of isolation among elderly people who might have a nice house, but are completely alone. They may not be eligible for support as some people in other parts of the Borough might be. Someone needs to be there for them. And those coming off furlough and facing long term unemployment.”

This is why Mutual Aid K&C has set up free drop-in lunch service at St Cuthbert’s Church in Earl’s Court (Tuesdays and Thursday 12:00-14:00), and the St Luke’s Mutual Food Bank Club at St Luke’s on Sydney Street in Chelsea (Tuesdays 11:00-13:00) starting in late November.

Mutual Aid runs social media campaigns to let residents know that their neighbours are around to lend a helping hand, as well as leafleting campaigns to try to reach those without access to computers or knowledge of social media.

Private gifts of money to the organisation don’t just cover food. They also pay for this kind of activity. “For those residents that can’t help with the costs of their food parcels and shopping, we are funded by voluntary contributions from individual residents offering private donations. There has been some funding from RBKC’s City Living Local life – but it is on a ward-by-ward basis.

“Our finances run on the Open Collective platform. Volunteers submit a receipt for, say, shopping, and they are reimbursed through it. We are open to and always grateful to any funding for our services.”

For further information on donations, and on receiving help, please contact:

General Phone Number: 020 7097 3731
General Email: mutualaidkc@gmail.com
Signpost a Vulnerable Person Email: kcma.referrals@gmail.com
The Platform: https://www.mutualaidkc.com/platform
St Cuthbert’s Mutual Aid Lunches: https://www.mutualaidkc.com/lunch
St Luke’s Mutual Aid Food Bank Club https://www.mutualaidkc.com/foodbank-club

For more information on Mutual Aid’s online Platform hub, St Cuthbert’s Mutual Aid lunches, and St Luke’s Food Bank Club, please visit Services Website: www.mutualaidkc.com

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