Solidarity in a Time of Crisis

Solidarity in a time of crisis : The role of mutual aid to the COVID-19 pandemic Dates: 2020 Funder: Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government

Mutual Aid Poster

This project examined the role of grassroots community-based responses to the pandemic, focusing attention on local ‘mutual aid groups’, which aimed to provide support to people most at risk of infection and other groups particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. In response to a rapid research call, over 6-months from May-October 2020, the research team engaged with mutual aid groups across Scotland to answer the question:  How, and in what ways, do mutual aid groups complement, enhance, or undermine formal public health provision in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

These groups worked more or less autonomously, and mostly co-ordinated their activities online, so the research team used a combination of mobile ethnographic methods and interviews to gather perspectives of those involved in mutual aid groups and gain real-time insights into the groups' operations and activities. Participants came from three different mutual aid groups across Scotland - one urban, one peri-urban and one rural. This data was supplemented by focus groups with other service providers in the public and third sectors. 

This project improved our knowledge of civil society responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, and raised awareness and understanding of the importance of community-based action during public health crises. 


Project Lead: Michael Roy

Project Team: Maeve Curtin, Jack Rendall, Simon Teasdale 


Sustainable Development Goals