Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville. Photograph: Hackney Council

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has praised the ‘brilliant’ local volunteers and groups who have rallied to help the community during the coronavirus crisis – but urged everyone to follow the council’s new safety guidelines.

The Town Hall recently launched a hub to provide targeted volunteering across the borough, but has also worked with Volunteer Centre Hackney to publish advice for those, such as mutual aid groups, who are coordinating their own efforts.

The guidelines, which can be found here, include tips for anyone setting up or running private Whatsapp or Facebook groups.

Keeping any group hyper-localised so members are within a short distance of one another, creating a set of rules to follow, and conforming to data protection laws are all mentioned.

The page also covers how to avoid spreading the virus, such as the correct protocol for delivering items.

Importantly, the council warns that “there may be some people who will seek to take advantage of the current situation”.

To avoid being taken in, the Town Hall recommends that you:

  • seek help from trusted neighbours and friends, or reputable charities, local advice agencies and established faith organisations
  • only give cash to someone you know and trust
  • do not give your bank card and PIN number to anybody
  • contact its adult safeguarding service on adult.protection@hackney.gov.uk or 020 8356 5782 if you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of another person, or concerns about how genuine someone’s offer to help you is
  • call the police on 999 in an emergency

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said: “Over the past few weeks, our brilliant, established community and voluntary sector and local residents, via mutual aid groups, have been rallying together to support those in need, during what is a difficult time for many.

“They have channeled community giving and local businesses who are keen to make a difference.

“These groups and organisations embody Hackney’s inclusive, welcoming and caring spirit, and we are committed to supporting them in any way that we can.”

He added: “We have set up a Volunteering Hub with Volunteer Centre Hackney (VCH), who are  working tirelessly to ensure that Hackney’s hundreds of DBS (criminal records) checked volunteers are being deployed to areas where they are most needed.

“We have also created two webforms – one for those who wish to volunteer and one for those who need assistance from volunteers.

“The volunteering webform asks applicants about their experience, capacity and most importantly, whether they are DBS checked, to support Volunteer Centre Hackney to allocate roles safely and appropriately. 

“The safety of volunteers and those they are supporting is of utmost importance.

“To support mutual aid groups and residents who are self-coordinating volunteering efforts we have worked with VCH to develop safety advice and guidelines.

“We urge groups and their members to strictly adhere to these guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of themselves and vulnerable residents.”

He thanked all of those helping their neighbours and supporting public services including the NHS, and said the “commuity spirit on display “continues to inspire all of us at the council”.

Lauren Tobias, Volunteer Centre Hackney’s chief executive, said: “We are very touched by the huge outpouring of support, which has seen people from all across Hackney kindly offering to donate their time to support the most vulnerable in our communities. 

“We’re currently working hard to ensure that support reaches those who most need it, particularly older people and other vulnerable residents, who are becoming increasingly isolated.

“Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue our work to screen and coordinate the deployment of people who would like to volunteer to people who are most in need and to match people who have valuable skills to suitable roles.”

Tobias added: “Whilst we encourage people to get involved with volunteering and supporting others, your safety is of paramount importance.

“If you are supporting your community, please be mindful of the information that you share and your own safety.”

If you wish to volunteer to help out people in your community, please fill in this form and Volunteer Centre Hackney will work to match you with a suitable volunteering opportunity.

If you need help or support, please fill in this form to be matched with a volunteer.

The Town Hall’s safety guidelines for volunteers can be found here

Support us

The coronavirus outbreak meant that the Hackney Citizen was unable to print a monthly newspaper for three months.

We're grateful that we have since been able to resume printing. This would not have been possible without the generosity of our readers, whose donations kept the paper from disappearing completely at a distressing time for residents.

A huge thank you to everyone who gave their time and money to support us through the lockdown, and to those who continue to do so as we slowly recover from the dramatic fall in advertising revenues, on top of the existing challenges threatening the future of local journalism.

A one-off donation or a regular contribution from anyone who can afford it will help our small team keep the newspaper in print and the website running in the coming months and years.

Find out how you can donate.

Thank you for your support, and stay safe.

The Hackney Citizen team