by TONY KALLEGEROS
A volunteer-run help organisation is providing community assistance to those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.
Inner West Sydney Mutual Aid is a Facebook group that recruits volunteers and matches them to people restricted by coronavirus legislation, such as elderly people who are unable to leave their homes/nursing homes but need shopping or chores done, and people in quarantine infected by coronavirus, unable to leave isolation. Although only created two weeks ago, the Facebook group has already amassed 4,500 members.
Danika, IWMA Group Administrator, said that ‘The Inner West Mutual Aid Group is inspired by anarchist and radical ideas of helping each other and building community in times of need and crisis’ and that ‘we can’t rely on the state and politicians to help us, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised in society, instead we want to form a network of volunteers to assist each other and break down divisions and ultimately lay down the foundations for a better and more egalitarian society’.
She encourages everyone involved in the initiative to think critically and reflect on ‘how oppression works, and on that basis make a politically-informed decision on who and what to prioritise’.
A member posting to the Facebook page distinguished mutual aid from charitable help: “Mutual aid projects are a form of political participation in which people take responsibility for caring for one another and changing political conditions, not just through symbolic acts or putting pressure on their representatives in government, but by actually building new social relations that are more survivable.”
On a personal note, Danika has provided assistance by dropping off some clean needles and syringes to an injecting drug user who wasn’t able to access their local Needle and Syringe Program. She also assisted in getting some toilet paper for a gentleman who has just been released from gaol.
While volunteers bring with them multiple skills, including qualifications and experience in social work, healthcare, IT or are even in a trade, everyone is welcome – just as long you have a vehicle to shop around and deliver groceries to those who are self-isolating or in quarantine.
To volunteer or to learn more about the Inner West Sydney Mutual Aid: