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Opinion: Courageous community reponse to coronavirus needs more resource

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:31 23 March 2020

Dr Alfie Bown, Hornsey resident and digital media lecturer at Royal Holloway, University London. Picture: Dr Alfie Bown

Dr Alfie Bown, Hornsey resident and digital media lecturer at Royal Holloway, University London. Picture: Dr Alfie Bown

Dr Alfie Bown

As the Covid-19 crisis intensifies with closed schools, discouraged social gatherings and cancelled public events, people are inevitably more and more isolated from one another - as we see in my local community, Hornsey.

Hornsey councillor Adam Jogee. Picture: Cllr Adam JogeeHornsey councillor Adam Jogee. Picture: Cllr Adam Jogee

Of course, this is the kind of co-ordinated and necessary isolation that we need to battle the virus, but in many cases it leaves the most vulnerable members of our community alone and at risk, often without sufficient support from the government and its institutions.

The government’s discourse of the “herd” and its focus on the “curve” of the virus, for example, speaks to its willingness to leave people behind to protect the mass, thinking of things in terms of numbers and aggregates rather than in terms of individual humans.

The local community, particularly in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, has rallied to support those left behind by this central logic.

There are hundreds of volunteers organizing in our borough, with dozens more joining the effort daily.

The ‘Covid-19 Mutual Aid Facebook Group’ operates as a kind of steering page, directing those who want to help to a stream of WhatsApp groups set up – generally speaking – by the Ward Councillors for the borough.

These groups are then breaking up into smaller WhatsApp groups with between two and five individual streets served by each group.

This means you can help those on your street easily and with minimized travel and disruption.

Members are helping with food deliveries, medical supplies and even simply checking up on the well-being of those most vulnerable in their area.

If you want to do join these groups simply search the above group on Facebook, write to your local councillor or contact the number below.

You’ll be added to the right WhatsApp and Google documents to help you provide help to those who need it.

In terms of reaching out to those who need help, much has already been done.

In many wards, most streets have been leafletted with a note offering a number of a local volunteers to call to any who are in need in the hope that ultimately every household will have an easy recourse to assistance even if they are not online.

The hope is that others in need of assistance will see this article and the number and email addresses to contact below.

Readers should also feel free to contact these support networks on behalf of older or more vulnerably family members in the borough.

With these kind of networks in place, the hope is that at least locally we can ensure that those most in need are supported.

Many are reluctant to criticise what they perceive as a government in crisis struggling against the odds, but there is a growing concern that people are going to suffer here not only as a result of Covid-19 itself but as a result of a lack of infrastructures of support and care for those most at risk in our society.

The coronavirus will no doubt be used as the perfect excuse by the sitting government to explain any economic and social difficulties we face in the year ahead, but let’s not forget how much we’re having to compensate on a local level by offering the kinds of support that should be provided centrally.

After we get through this, we need to make sure we lobby for a society with provisions in place for all of its humans.

Additional comment from Hornsey councillor Adam Jogee

The response has been utterly overwhelming and we have now secured a £1,000 fund for the most vulnerable residents to access emergency supplies - the Hornsey Hardship Fund.

As difficult as life has been recently, the most amazing thing over the last week has been the incredible response of the Hornsey people who are doing everything they can to help.

Even during these tough times people are saying: “We are here to help - how can we make your life a little bit easier?”

My thanks go to everyone pulling together in Hornsey for what is a genuinely fantastic response.

If you live in Hornsey and are in need of help or want to volunteer, contact Cllr Adam Jogee or Cllr Dana Carlin 07940030353 or WeAreHornsey@gmail.com


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