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London Bridge & West Bermondsey: ‘phenomenal’ community response

James Hatts

"Southwark absolutely has the best residents on the planet," says Cllr Humaira Ali, who has told us about how people in her London Bridge & West Bermondsey ward have stepped up to help each other during the COVID-19 crisis.

London Bridge & West Bermondsey: ‘phenomenal’ community response

Cllr Ali told us about the "phenomenal" response shown by local people to the unfolding international emergency: "In the space of about four or five days, the whole of Southwark has divided itself up by ward, and started to organise getting leaflets out to people to let them know where to go for help or how to volunteer.

"People have built websites, people are already starting to get food deliveries through, and medicine deliveries. There are businesses coming forward who both need help, and are offering help.

"In our ward in Bermondsey Street, there's a couple of businesses who've said, 'we're really happy to feed vulnerable people and people who don't have anything'.

"Voluntary organisations are a little bit overwhelmed at the moment. But at the same time, there are pools of volunteers who are saying 'just send us and we will go and supplement their volunteer base'. So people have mobilised really quickly and without argument. It's just amazing."

Many London Bridge & West Bermondsey residents will have received a flyer about the website

Cllr Ali told us how it came about: "Within a very short space of time, people said, right, we need to be able to collate our volunteers and 'how do we do that?' and rather than just trying to manage it on a spreadsheet, one of our volunteers has put a website together.

She explained that it acts like a matchmaking service: "It's really simple. You go to this website if you need help, and it's very easy to register.

"Equally, if you want to volunteer your time, then you can also register there.

She added: "And just at this moment in time, there's probably a lot more volunteers than there are people asking for help, but we're expecting things to ramp up over the next couple of weeks."

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