The Feeling’s Mutual: 'They're walking over the top of beautiful community action'
Mutual aid means that we look out for each other: you support me and I support you. In the wake of Covid-19, thousands of new groups have been set up on these principles. But is there a danger of losing the 'mutual'? In a new podcast series – The Feeling's Mutual – Bob, Maff and guests discuss, and offer their potential solutions.
Whatsapp and Facebook mutual aid groups formed across the UK when Covid-19 first hit. Started by local people, these enabled neighbours to support each other with grocery shopping, share tools and clothes, or send messages of support at a time when the government was advising people to stay inside their homes as much as possible.
But very quickly, many of these were taken over by formal groups and local authorities, says Practical Governance co-founder Bob Thust. “Suddenly the Facebook pages started talking about a small group of people and what they could do for others, rather than a chat between people,” he says.
They're walking a massive size 12 welly right on top of a delicate little flower that’s emerging
In the first episode of a new podcast series – The Feeling’s Mutual – Bob is joined by co-host Maff Potts, founder at Camerados, independent changemaker Ruth Jackson, and Carly Attridge, founder and director at the Loss Project, to talk openly about the concept of mutual aid – and why it might have gone missing in action.
Ruth is also concerned about the formalisation of community groups. “They're just walking right over the top of really beautiful community action: a massive size 12 welly right on top of a delicate little flower that’s emerging.”
We’re encouraging people to say ‘I’m going to help you because you have nothing to offer society’
Carly says that the recent categorising of certain people as “vulnerable” makes her “skin crawl.” “Local councillors have good intentions,” she says, “but we’re perpetuating a deficit model – where we’re encouraging people to be like ‘I’m going to help you because you have nothing to offer society’.”
Listen to the discussion in full above – where the group suggests ways of keeping the ‘mutual’ in mutual aid.
This is episode 1 of The Feeling’s Mutual podcast. Get in touch or join future discussions for the series at firstname.lastname@example.org – and find more podcast episodes from Pioneers Post on Apple, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Header image: Friends old and new relaxing at a Camerados Public Living Room
Podcast edited by Caroline Hailstone. Music by Broke For Free.
Thanks for listening to our podcast. As somebody working in the impact economy, you'll know that producing quality work doesn't come free. We rely on paid subscriptions and partnerships to sustain our purpose-led journalism – so if you think it's worth having an independent, media platform to share your new and insight across the globe, please consider subscribing.