Given the latest advice about Coronavirus, and the need for us all to practice ‘social distancing’ to slow its spread, we are suspending all planned Ella Baker meetings.
However, we will not be idle, and we will continue to develop materials that are relevant to the current situation, but we will be focussing on what we can do virtually, or on-line, to support the work that communities (including workplace communities) are progressing.
In particular, we will are encouraging all our supporters to participate in two initiatives.
Organised in the community
The first is working to establish networks of ‘Mutual Aid’ groups in communities across the country. We have just produced a really useful (well we think so) guide to organising a group in your block, or street. Many of the 1000 or more groups that have sprung up are currently operating at borough, town or ward level. The next stage is to get organised at a far more local scale, at street or bloc level, where people already at least vaguely recognise each other.
The aspiration of these groups must be to get everyone in their location involved, tapping into the skills knowledge and resources that already exist within our communities. Whether you are already involved in a group, or are just starting one, this guide will help you to involve people and ensure that the group is genuinely about mutual self help, rather than just a list of volunteers. Because, even if someone is self-isolating, they can still contribute (if nothing else they may have an abundance of spare time).
The more local the group, the more effective they can be at achieving very high levels of participation. Think about your street, can you get people together (online) to provide mutual support? With our guide you can. Please download it, and please share the link with mutual aid or other concerned groups in your area (you can find your local Mutual Aid group here).
Organised at work
The second thing we are calling on our supporters to do is to support the initiative: ‘The Coronavirus Movement for Workers - fighting for safety and financial security’. With so many employers unsure what to do, there is a risk either that they will do nothing, or prioritise minimising financial impact on the company rather than protecting the health of their workforce. And of course, there are lots of things the government should be doing, including around guaranteeing sick pay for all, and protecting renters who are isolating, that they are not yet doing. This new group, which you can also join on Facebook, is working closely with us, are trying to organise and equip workers (whether or not they are formally employed, or currently in a union) with the skills and knowledge to make their safety and financial security a priority. That has to be worth supporting.
To reiterate, our current planned meetings and trainings have all been postponed. We are taking this step to support the need for social distancing. Please look after yourself, your family and friends and your community, In other words, reduce your physical interactions, wherever possible, self isolate if you need to. We urgently need to slow this epidemic.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected, our world is changing fast, and we need to be organised now more than ever.
Please share this blog to your networks.
The team at Ella Baker