2 Mutual Aid, Local Social Justice Action 2020 & 2021

2020 has been a challenging time of the unexpected for most of us. One of the most inspiring things of being on the Network support team this year has been to hear the stories of people in the relational network taking action to support their local communities during the Pandemic. Many people have been letting us know of what they have been doing on a mutual aid group locally. From sending encouraging WhatsApp and text messages, to picking up groceries, to having open fridges and food pick up points!!

We would love to share these stories with the rest of the Network, so do let us know if you want to share some inspiration of what you and your communities have been doing. It inspired lots of us to talk more on Zoom about what mutual aid means and its original foundation of inspiration as we feel beyond the Pandemic this could be a foundation for the next era of local SPEAK network social action for justice. People in every society in every time period have worked together to ensure their communities can survive.
Mutual aid has been practiced extensively in marginalised communities. The term "mutual aid" was popularised by the anarchist philosopher Peter Kropotkin in his essay collection Mutual Aid, which argued that cooperation, not competition was the driving mechanism of positive social change.
“[M]an is appealed to be guided in his acts, not merely by love [...] but by the perception of his oneness with each human being. In the practice of mutual aid, which we can retrace to the earliest beginnings of evolution, we thus find the positive and undoubted origin of our ethical conceptions; and we can affirm that in the ethical progress of man, mutual support not mutual struggle — has had the leading part.”
Mutual aid participants work together to figure out strategies and resources to meet each other's needs, such as food, housing, medical care, and disaster relief, while organizing themselves against the system that created the shortage in the first place.
Brothers and sisters Inspired by Kropotkin, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin of the Catholic Worker Movement wrote about mutual aid and encouraged the practice as a way of performing the works of mercy. We have been inspired by our friends and partners at the Catholic worker farm who have helped us host many SPEAK events over our 22 years of existence and the work they do as mutual aid has been shared with the SPEAK Network over years. Incidentally, the Catholic worker farm in London needs prayer right now as there have been challenges to their dwelling where they are housing refugees and asylum seekers
Please keep in touch sharing inspiring stories or guest writing for the blog to spread stories of inspiration in these challenging times. Don’t be shy – inspiration spreads! We’re interdependent whether we want to recognise it or not.
Here are inks of other sources of information on mutual aid, to educate, inspire and reflect on:
5 minute Video Summary https://youtu.be/oRvX0abNWvg
In a world ruled by ceaseless capitalist competition, where people are pitted to work against each other, mutual aid groups offer a different vision: Mutual Aid.

A pod case reflecting on mutual aid groups staying radical

Below is a picture of the give and take fridge for the Holloway Road Mutual aid group at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 we wanted to share this as an example for other local groups to try!! This was just a question of having a fridge in a mutual accessible point where people could drop off items and pick up items if they needed them

At the beginning of the Pandemic in March 2020 long term friends of the Network Ben and Laura Gillchrist came up with this ' Declaration of Interdependence' we thought was inspirational so we wanted to share as it is easy to get isolated in these times and community and Network is what we most need. We have uploaded it as pdf that we hope you can see for inspiration!

SPEAK Groups are groups which meet together regularly to campaign and pray on issues of justice, to encourage each other in our spiritual journey and spur each other onto greater levels of activism.
Some SPEAK groups exist as part of Christian Unions or churches, and some exist independently. SPEAK groups are flexible according to what people feel is appropriate in their particular locality. Some are more focused on prayer; others are more focused on campaigning. Some meet once a week, others once a month. All are committed to SPEAK’S core values. Other groups emerging are ‘BeSpoke’ groups, groups that don’t necessarily call themselves SPEAK groups, but want to connect into the network ethos.
Find out where your nearest group is and how to get involved here: https://www.speak.org.uk/network/speak-groups
If there isn't a group near you and you'd like to start a new group, please contact us at admin@speak.org.uk