Community spirit

Posted by bv39 at Apr 03, 2020 03:14 PM |

In the past couple of weeks an incredible civic movement, in response to the coronavirus crisis, has spread across Leicester, and indeed the whole of the UK. Thank you to Becci Burden for telling us the story of how she, and others, are helping to support their community during this difficult time.

Community support groups have been popping up in all corners of the UK with many who are able and willing finding ways to support their elderly or vulnerable neighbours. The response seen across Leicester has been fantastic, supported largely by the newly formed Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK. Many University colleagues have given their time to help.

The groups aim to offer all households in need, help from someone locally. Helpers have posted leaflets, offering help, to other houses on their street. Tasks the team are helping with include shopping for groceries, picking up prescriptions or making a friendly phone call to check in.

Becci Burden, Apprenticeships Lead at the University, became the voluntary Ward Lead for Knighton’s COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group. She said:

“In just over a week I’ve set up systems and mobilised 45 plus wonderful volunteers who have covered 58 of 162 streets in the area so far. It’s definitely kept me busy and given me purpose during these unfamiliar times.”

In Knighton there has been a great response – with lots of phone calls and texts from people saying that getting the note through the door has given them a boost, helping them feel safe and hopeful. A volunteer said of the movement:

“There have been plenty of opportunities to help out, for example sorting food shops for a 93 year-old on my street – top of the list is Whiskas chicken pouches, for her favourite companion!”.

Setting up the system so rapidly has meant that decisions which could take weeks to consider in a normal work setting have had to be made in minutes. The group has formed connections with local councillors, the City Council, food banks and more which helps to ensure they’re delivering the best kind of service for the residents they’re supporting.

If you’d like to help out, there are lots of opportunities in Knighton, across Leicester and the UK. Even if you’re self-isolating and would like to help you still can with admin tasks, safeguarding and communications for example.

To seek help or for further information:

University of Leicester Mutual Aid Volunteers come from all corners of the University. Thanks to you all for getting involved and making a difference to your local communities - Rosalie Cattermole, a 4th year medicine student; Mel Jones a first year PhD Researcher in Geography, Geology and the Environment; Gavin Brown, Professor of Political Geography and Sexualities in the School of Geography, Geology and the Environment; Emily Wilson, a 4th year medicine student; Jenny Kent, a medicine student ; Chandhini Suresh, a medicine student; Nikita Lack, a chemistry student; Emily Patrick, a 4th year medicine student; Liz Yeates, a human geography student; Gareth Oughton, Students' Union chief executive.

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