A MOVEMENT which has seen neighbours not only help each other in a time of crisis, but also get to know each other, has looked back on the work it has done since the start of the pandemic.

Winchester Mutual Aid was formed in March on Facebook at the start of the Covid crisis and has now gone on to appoint area leads, with thousands of people getting involved with the group.

One of five co-ordinators Marianne Foster said: “What we have seen over the past few months these amazing relationships have been developed through people who live near one another, people who would have never known each other.

“The vulnerable and elderly now have a connection with people that weren’t there previously.

“It is the relationships building and neighbourliness that we have seen has been the most encouraging thing. Now people are getting on and helping one another.”

Since it was launched people have offered to carry out a wealth of jobs from delivering meals, getting shopping, doing lifts, and even taking urine samples to GP surgeries. The group has also referred people to Hampshire County Council who needed extra support that was not in place.

Co-ordinators have been working with foodbanks as they have come across people who were not eating.

Members of Winchester Mutual Aid have been working alongside Winchester City Council’s wellbeing team.

“I sit on that roundtable now and work with other agencies and groups who are helping people locally,” said Marianne.

“Winchester City Council have said that they have received hardly any requests from the community. We really feel that this is wonderful.

“There is a view that people don’t know who lives next door, in a time of crisis and disaster the narrative is usually that people descend into chaos – that is not true. It is not just Mutual Aid there are all sorts of organisations that have done that as well.

“I think that will last, not something that will go away. People will still look out for one another.”

When asked about what she hopes the future of Mutual Aid looks like Marianne said: “The whole concept of Mutual Aid is about giving and receiving. We want it to be about neighbourliness.

“We try to make it organic and it grows, and it changes – there will be other roles that Mutual Aid can fulfil.”

She added: “This year has been incredibly traumatic for everybody in one way or another but the thought that we have helped to connect with their neighbours and helped to develop a supportive nature.

“If we could make it normal for people to help one another – I think that is a good thing and I remember thinking wouldn’t it be great if we could do ourselves out of a job.”

As the Covid vaccination continues to be rolled out volunteers from Mutual Aid are offering their time to help local centres.