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There With You: ‘I hope when this is over we’ll be more of a community together’

PUBLISHED: 14:17 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:32 02 April 2020

Four-year-old Aria walking Khyara's dog Prince while she self-isolates, as part of West Hampstead Mutual Aid's efforts. Picture: Mia/West Hampstead Mutual Aid

Four-year-old Aria walking Khyara's dog Prince while she self-isolates, as part of West Hampstead Mutual Aid's efforts. Picture: Mia/West Hampstead Mutual Aid

Mia/West Hampstead Mutual Aid

Whether you need a food shop, the dog walked or a friendly phone call, hundreds are ready to help vulnerable residents in West Hampstead.

The Mutual Aid group, with more than 200 members, has come together during the coronavirus outbreak, operating mainly via WhatsApp.

It was launched by Janet Grauberg and Pranay Hariharan, who know each other from campaigning together as members of the local Liberal Democrats party.

Janet has begun reaching out to vulnerable people, who are often old and less likely to find the group through social media.

To do so she has made leaflets that volunteers can collect and fill in with their information and availability, and distribute on their street or surrounding area.

Janet said encouraging hyper-local volunteering will help people be more aware of their surroundings, and foster a sense of community by people getting in touch with their neighbours.

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She said: “I really hope that when all this is over we’ll be more of a community together.”

Pranay said: “It’s becoming increasingly hard for someone to go out and collect a prescription. I went out earlier today and had to wait 20 minutes outside of the pharmacy due to the social distancing rules that they are rightly enforcing.”

Janet added: “This isn’t an option for a lot of people in the vulnerable category, so we’re trying to plug things that people can do locally such as volunteer to deliver for pharmacies and donate to food banks.”

As more shops and services close due to people not respecting social distancing rules, as has happened this week with Sherriff Centre Post Office, community groups will be key to help vulnerable people.

The group is organising a group e-coffee morning via Zoom on Saturday to connect with each other and think about how it can evolve to help the community.

If you’re in the West Hampstead area, get in touch with Grauberg at @JGrauberg on Twitter, or to find your mutual aid group go to www.covidmutualaid.org.


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