What is mutual aid?

Mutual aid is a term for volunteer service centered around meeting the needs of a community in a bottom-up, grassroots way. It is designed to fill in the gaps often left by government services and programs that may not be accessible to everyone and may be less responsive to the immediate needs of the most marginalized and vulnerable. Mutual aid networks have been formed in the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires and are now copping up all over the county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis. 

What do mutual aid networks do?

Mutual aid networks rely on volunteer labor and donations to provide needed services to the community. During the COVID-19 pandemic, mutual aid networks have formed to deliver food, medication and other critical supplies to the elderly and people at higher risk of severe complications from contracting the virus. These networks are also providing childcare, transportation, and other needed services to vulnerable members of the community. Volunteers contribute as much or as little time as they’re able in any capacity they feel comfortable. 

How do I find a mutual aid network near me?

Vermont-NEA has compiled a list of networks around Vermont offering various services. For many of these, you can use the online form to indicate if you would like to volunteer (and in what capacity) or utilize the network’s services.

How can I form a mutual aid network in my community?

It’s really as easy as making a Google form and sharing it with your friends, family and neighbors via email, text and social media. You can keep track of volunteers and aid recipients in a spreadsheet. For additional information, organizers across the country have contributed to a helpful database that includes a “how to” guide for setting up a mutual aid network.

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