Community support and mutual aid
The community support and mutual aid strand is led by Professor John Drury at the University of Sussex. The mutual aid and other community groups that have arisen in response to the pandemic provide a vital service to neighbours in the form of shopping, collecting prescriptions, walking dogs, providing information, and giving emotional support. They have enabled people to stay at home and self-isolate when needed and created a sense of solidarity and community. Practically, they have complemented the role of the official agencies.
Essential mitigation measures such as the Test Trace and Isolate system crucially require people to be supported to stay at home for extended periods of time. Therefore, there will be a need for community mutual aid groups for the foreseeable future.
Spontaneous community support groups are common in the wake of disasters. But they tend to decline over time, even while needs for support remain high. There is a need to understand the processes whereby such groups can be sustained over time – what factors work against the decline that so often happens with such groups?
The aim of this research is therefore to examine the factors that enable these groups to endure. We will use interviews and a survey to understand why people join community support groups, and the psychological, practical, and organizational factors that sustain these groups over time. We are working with local groups to produce guidance tools to help sustain community solidarity. These outputs will have the impact of equipping local groups to sustain themselves more effectively over time, thereby meeting ongoing community support needs.