Ardwick and Longsight Covid Mutual Aid GroupThe group's focus was to ensure people could access culturally appropriate food parcels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benefit of asset based community development
Ardwick and Longsight Mutual Aid Group was set up by residents from the neighbourhood including those on the West Gorton Estate, and its primary focus was to ensure that people could access culturally appropriate food parcels or hot meals to keep them fed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group was led by local residents, for local residents and the support line they delivered was open between the hours of 10am-3pm Monday-Friday.
Ardwick and Longsight
buzz Manchester Health & Wellbeing Service, ARMR Store, West Gorton Community Centre, Manchester Vineyard Church, Ardwick and Longsight Foodbank, Brunswick Church, Manchester City Council, Manchester Local Care Organisation, Forever Manchester, Fare Share, We Matter CIC, Bangladeshi Women's Associationm Manchester BAME Network, Ardwick Green Resident's Association, Every Month Campaign, Your Housing Group and their partners – provided gloves, Morgan Sandal Property Services – provided gloves and offered masks, Grove Village Housing, Salvation Army, MACC, Libyan Women's Organisation, Wonderfully Made Woman, Brunswick Resident's Group, Groves Resident's Group, CIWA, Bold St3p, Turkish Community Group, Caribbean and African Health Network
This group was responsive to the pandemic of 2020 and encompassed a wide range of local residents and partner organisations, with asset sharing and collaborative working at the heart of the group’s delivery, following the statement ‘Alone we can do just a little, but together we can achieve a lot’.
The group had volunteers who collectively spoke 14 languages and reflected the diversity within the community, this helped them to offer relevant support to others within the area. The core purpose of this group was to provide food provisions, with local residents offering time to pack parcels, fundraise, deliver parcels, and take phoneline requests for food aid, to ensure everybody could access food.
The phone line volunteers were provided with signposting material from the buzz Manchester COVID-19 Resource Hub. Along with information and support from the local care navigator team, this enabled them to offer support and advice for more complex cases.
The volunteers had varying levels of previous community development experience and the group gave them the opportunity to try out volunteering for the first time, which they plan to continue post COVID-19. Forever Manchester offered free training to all the groups volunteers to support them in further understanding asset based community development with a view for them to continue using their skills into the future.
As well as food parcels, the group offered a cooked meal to people without cooking facilities or abilities. They did this by working alongside partners at ARMR Store, Brunswick Church and the Turkish Community Organisation, who had the relevant certificates and premises to run a free hot meal service.
To promote themselves, the group had a leaflet designed which was produced by the Vineyard Church. The group also spoke to ALL FM about what they were achieving, and provided written content for local newsletters such as the Grove Village residents news, and had an article in the Manchester Evening News. The group also set up a blog which captured information about the people involved in the group and the activities taking place: https://aandlmutualaid.wixsite.com/website/blog
To improve the mental health and wellbeing of local residents, the group volunteers led a project called Find Me A Home which encouraged group members to donate items which followed the theme of the 5 ways to wellbeing and re-distributed them to residents. On connect week, one of the group volunteers wrote personalised notes to people who received regular food parcels from the group to reach out and show how communities can stay connected even during a pandemic.
"So great to see such positive activity and passion from all the volunteers and everyone else who is supporting the group." - Safeena Rather, Area Services Manager, Great Places Housing Group
"I think this is so impressive, and the long term impact on our communities will continue for much longer than this crisis. Well done to you and to the group." - Councillor Bernard Priest, Labour Member for the Ardwick Ward
This project grew quite rapidly and ended up involving 75 volunteers and partners who worked collaboratively to meet the community's needs during the pandemic.
In the 19 weeks of directly providing food aid, 400+ food parcels (which were designed to last a family a week) went out to feed 147 households, this meant that 321 people were fed from regular food provided by the group's food parcels. The group also provided 200+ hot meals per week for people who were unable to access cooking facilities.
The mutual aid group will continue post COVID-19 and looks to form into their own good neighbours model to build on the connections and support offer the group has established. The group has been invited to share their project at the GM Mutual Aid Group Conference. The group has also been invited to share their project at the Manchester Mutual Aid Group Conference, and has been captured in the Central Manchester Health Development Coordinators learning report on Manchester mutual aid groups.
Strategic links to local/national policies
Increased mental wellbeing
Helping people age well
Empowers people to take charge of their health
Enables people to live independently as they grow older
Creating an age friendly city
Mantovani et al (2017) Engaging communities to improve mental health in African and Afro-Caribbean groups: the role of wellbeing champions Health & Social Care in the Community 25 (1) 167-176
Nico Dhillon - buzz Neighbourhood Health Worker
T: 07553 708029
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