Newry.ie

Several Covid-19 help groups have been set up in Newry and the surrounding districts.

They aresome of thousands of volunteer groups set up throughout Ireland and the UK in the space of a week to help isolated people during the pandemic. Some of the groups cover just a small area such as Camlough and Bessbrook while others cover the entire country.

The Groups

Covid-19 Community Help Camlough Bessbrook and Surrounding Areas WWW.FACEBOOK.COM

Volunteer Now Newry, Mourne and Down Covid-19 Mutual Aid Group WWW.FACEBOOK.COM

Glenanne Loughgilly and Mountnorris (GLM) COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group DOCS.GOOGLE.COM and WWW.FACEBOOK.COM

Help Around SITES.GOOGLE.COM

Civid-19 Community Support NI COVID19COMMUNITY.ORG

Covid Community Response COVIDCOMMUNITYRESPONSE.IE

Groups are a Vital Boost

Users of the groups have described them as a vital boost with NHS services likely to be stretched in the coming weeks.

Co-ordinator for the national Covid-19 Mutual Aid umbrella group Kelsey Mohamed, 28, said the response had been 'overwhelming'.

"It shows us what's possible when we prioritise simple compassion," she said. "People are self-organising with incredible efficiency, respect and creativity." 

Many of the groups formed through a templated leaflet being delivered through letterboxes in a particular area.

Seren John-Wood , 24, helped set up the first mutual aid group in Lewisham, south London, on Thursday, March 12.

The theatre worker and her housemates distributed hundreds of leaflets around their local area asking if people needed deliveries of food or medicine.

Shortly afterwards, the friends decided to launch an umbrella organisation to guide the various groups around the UK. Its website displays a map of the volunteer groups they know of from the tip of Cornwall to Northern Ireland and Scotland. Some cover a single street, others a neighbourhood, ward or town.

We asked National co-ordinator: Kelsey Mohamed about the groups and why they are so important "This isn't a crisis like any that we have experienced in our lifetimes. Solidarity rather than charity is what's required. It's down to the basics now - food delivery, picking up prescriptions, and just checking in. This is a great leveller as everyone is affected and often the best answer to meeting immediate needs can be found very locally."

As in all walks of life you are urged to keep an eye out for potential scammers, especially if you are handing over money.

Change Society for the Long Term

 It's expected that Networks like Mutual Aid will change society for the long-term.  As Kelsey says "It has been overwhelming and moving and it shows us what's possible when we prioritise simple compassion. People are self-organising with incredible efficiency, respect and creativity and rebuilding social capital in the most basic, human way: By helping our neighbours. 

 "The cracks in the infrastructure of organisations that were already struggling to meet the needs of the most vulnerable are opening wider as resources run low and employees need to work from home. We are coming together to fill some of those gaps as best we can. 

Ms Mohamed continues "Many people who are self-isolating also have caring responsibilities, so one neighbour helped out a 60 year-old who normally delivers his 93 year-old dad's weekly shop by doing it for him, and I was able to pick up a prescription for a friend's granny who lives round the corner. 

 "We've managed to organise to collect food from local businesses that are closing to distribute locally too."

Concluding Kelsey added "It's critical to follow official advice such as self-isolating if you're showing symptoms, washing hands and following physical distancing. We all have a responsibility to contain the virus. But, we must not lose momentum as we face these challenging weeks and things get much harder for people. It's the time to be creative and work around this virus, even if that's online and by phone."

Speaking about the Covid Community Response campaign, software engineer Danny O’Donovan, said, “Our helpline is a very big step forward – we have managed to set up a professional helpline operated entirely by volunteers.. As we know, many communities are doing extraordinary work around the country, and we are just adding to this by creating a coordinated system to make sure nobody is without support. Our helpline is available between the hours 9.00 am and 9.00pm, and volunteers can register at any time on our website.’

Other Groups

If you know of other local groups recently set up please let us know and we will add them.

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