Almost four months after it was created to support vulnerable and isolated local residents at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brentwood Mutual Aid (BMA) has become a permanent fixture in the community, having been established as a recognised Charitable Trust.
Co-founders Kat Waterhouse and Oliver Durose have been named Founder and Leader, and Founding Trustee respectively, while volunteers Gary Maxius and Lynn Connelly have been invited to join the Board of Trustees.
Since its launch on 22 March 2020, BMA has carried out over 3,000 individual tasks for residents, from shopping and delivering medication, to sourcing emergency food, dog walking, gardening tasks and running post office errands.
It has also offered a befriending service, delivering elements of counselling, to benefit the most isolated, fulfilling the simple aim: “if something needs to happen, we can do it”.
BMA has forged strong partnerships with those organisations and people it needed to provide the most effective support, including Brentwood Borough Council, Daily Bread Café, Manna Meals, Peabody Trust, parish councils and local food banks.
BMA has also led a number of initiatives and, by working collaboratively with its partners, continues to enhance both what support can be provided to residents and how that support can be delivered most effectively.
BMA has quickly built up a vast, experienced network of volunteers, including 25 dedicated call handlers who are ready to listen and respond to the needs of residents, as well as business relationships and other partners, all working together to provide support in every corner of the Borough and in as many ways as possible.
Registering BMA as a Charitable Trust has secured its future, and it will continue to provide support for the practical needs of residents – even after the pandemic is over – working closely with the majority of local agencies to ensure targeted support gets to where it is needed most.
“Having only lived in the Borough for four years prior to lockdown, I was completely oblivious to the level of need in our community,” said co-founder Kat Waterhouse. “BMA gave me a purpose throughout the pandemic as I was able to use my newly found free time in a valuable and rewarding way. For this, I will always be thankful.
“I am immensely proud of each and every volunteer who not only gave up their time during lockdown, but who also committed to Brentwood Mutual Aid and our residents going forward, post-Covid. Without them, we would not have been able to ensure the future of BMA and most importantly, the support of our vulnerable neighbours.”
If you are a resident looking for help, an agency that would like to make referrals to BMA or if you want to become a volunteer, call 01277 424 953, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the group’s Facebook page.