Photo C/O @djnontario
By Donna Nadeem, Staff Writer
With over 11,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the cracks in an unjust system, leaving the most vulnerable at risk. Given the lack of paid sick days, many workers have to choose between going to work and risking contracting the virus, or staying home and losing income. Individuals experiencing homelessness and those facing precarious housing are at a greater risk of harm.
Networks of volunteers have come together over Facebook groups dedicated to “Caremongering”. These groups establish networks to prioritize the needs of people who are more vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic, including those at a higher risk of health complications due to the virus, people experiencing homelessness and front-line workers. The groups aim to organize and share community resources in order to ensure that the most vulnerable have access to food, healthcare and other necessities.
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Care-mongering update: April 11th Since stores are closed tomorrow, we had many volunteers in setting up the new space @NewVisionUnited, doing inventory runs, and preparing for deliveries for the week. Note: we're still delivering on Monday! @erichscupboard @hamiltoncivic
The CareMongering-HamOnt Facebook group was created on March 13; at the time, there were 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. The group has over 6,000 members, an email and a phone line for general inquiries or calls for support. Members can also post in the Facebook group to ask for support or share opportunities that could help community members.
The Facebook group relies on a dedicated team of volunteers who make deliveries, put up flyers, provide emotional support and grocery shop for others. People from all over the Hamilton community are offering medical supplies and food, and are updating the group on stores that have restocked or have food and supplies that others may need. A network of volunteers delivers supplies to those who are more vulnerable.
As a part of the Facebook group’s work, the Hamilton Students Mobilization Network and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario put together packages of food and other necessities, which volunteers then pick up from the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion and deliver via a sanitized pick up and drop off procedure.
When the group first began, all requests and offers of support were made directly on the Facebook page. Hashtags were used to distinguish between requests, offers for support and information about resources, news and stores.
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CARE-MONGERING UPDATE: APRIL 5TH: Since starting with a centralized system 3 weeks ago to make sure people in #HamOnt can self isolate & access food/supplies, we've: -Fed 250 families -Fed roughly 500+ people -Registered exactly 210 volunteers -Received over 6K in donations Note: not tagged b/c we don't know their handles but thank you also to Stephanie H, Stephanie, Emily, Alyssa, Vilma, Merima for helping out today!
Now, as the Facebook group has grown, people are being asked to make requests through a centralized system via Google Forms, which allows the organizers to oversee the process to ensure that sanitation protocols are maintained. Initially, the group accepted physical donations to the office, but are now asking people to make financial donations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around the world, people are coping with preexisting health conditions, some are dealing with sudden job losses and others are struggling to stay safe while working on the front lines of a pandemic. Now more than ever, we must strengthen our community networks in order to share resources, and look out for one another’s safety.
The Caremongering movement is about far more than promoting acts of kindness among neighbours. It is also about addressing inequality and injustice that the government has not been able to address.
“We understand that this pandemic is part of a broader crisis in capitalism that has and will continue to evolve into economic recession, increases in incarceration and policing, further resource extraction and other issues related to environmental disaster and colonialism,” states a post from the group admin. “So we use this time to reflect on our consumption and place in a chain of supply/demand, on what surviving means, on taking what we need and leaving for the future, and on community care and mutual aid, and we take this time to calibrate, because things can and will get worse.”