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Does Your Local Area Have a Coronavirus Support Group?

Remember, outreach efforts must be entirely online-based because of the lockdown. This means that those who are not adept with technology may miss out, so you must use your family and friend networks to mitigate this as far as possible.

If there ever could be a silver lining to the Coronavirus pandemic, it is the extraordinary willingness to give and help that thousands up and down the country are showing.

Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK is a group of volunteers supporting local community groups that are self-organising to provide aid to one another during the outbreak. 

Local groups self-organise to take care of one another, through running errands for the elderly and vulnerable, running online socials and other forms of support. Thousands of groups have been set up throughout the country.

Here’s what to do if your area already has a support group:

  1. Does your local area have a support group set up? You can find out here
  2. Please make sure that you and your loved ones are well connected with the group, especially the elderly and vulnerable.
  3. It is crucial for community leaders, scholars, and imams to lead the way in healthy collaboration. As Muslims, our elderly are less likely to have access to such networks so we must use our networks to encourage mutual support.
  4. Strongly consider volunteering. This could include monitoring Facebook groups, making shopping trips, or managing donations.

If your area does not have a support group, here’s how you can set one up:

  1. Decide the scope of the group; will it be along your road, your borough or district? Consider how many volunteers you have on hand to manage the scope of the group.
  2. Consider existing volunteering efforts or community projects such as soup kitchens or charities. 
  3. Set up a variety of communication channels:
    1. A WhatsApp and Facebook group are two obvious starting points.
    2. For admin volunteers, set up a Slack digital workspace to stay organised. You can also use platforms like Zoom to host meetings.
    3. A phone number or email address for those who do not or are unable to use social media.
  4. Use these channels and personal connections to add people to the group. Remember, outreach efforts must be entirely online-based because of the lockdown. This means that those who are not adept with technology may miss out, so you must use your family and friend networks to mitigate this as far as possible.
  5. Make the purpose of the group clear i.e. to provide support to one another, through running errands and social support. You should explicitly state that you are not providing any medical advice. Likewise, strictly monitor which information is shared to ensure that fake or misleading information is not shared.
  6. Manage support requests. Whilst carrying out requests, all members of groups should be aware of this.
  7. Consult the rest of the guidance from Covid-19 Mutual Aid UK.

Safeguarding Practices

  1. Maintain strict hygiene when delivering to somebody who is immunocompromised. Queercare has provided excellent and comprehensive guidance that is being used across the country on delivering. 
  2. If you collect data on requests via a centralised platform such as email or telephone, this data must not be publicly viewable to everybody in the group. Read this guidance thoroughly for more info.
  3. Any volunteers should follow this policy protocol.
  4. Read the rest of the Queercare guidance thoroughly.  

“Help one another in acts of piety and righteousness. And do not assist each other in acts of sinfulness and transgression. And be aware of Allah. Verily, Allah is severe in punishment” (Quran 5:2).

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