Support your community

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting immense pressure on vital services in our communities across east London. 

There are lots of opportunities for Queen Mary staff and students to support these communities in the coming months including a list below with recommendations on how to get involved.  

If you are providing support, keep safe and follow government advice to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and do not put yourself or others at risk if you are not feeling well. 

Donate food and toiletry items to your local Foodbank

With people buying more products to sustain their families in the case of self-isolating, supermarkets are not able to currently keep supplies as stocked as usual. Foodbanks are concerned that they won’t be able to cope with an increase in demand from local families and fewer donations are being made.  

A 2019 report by London Food Link revealed that 1.5million adults in London have low food security, with 400,000 children under the age of 16 struggling to access enough food. Over 90% of the food distributed by foodbanks in the Trussell Trust networks is donated by the public. If you are able to donate food and toiletry items, please check donation locations and shopping lists of items that are needed for each borough below. 

Some foodbanks may prefer to receive financial donations rather than physical donations at this current time to prevent people leaving their houses to drop off items. Please check with your local foodbank for more details and to check this:

Can donate items at their Poplar warehouse and at drop-off locations in Sainsbury’s in Whitechapel and Waitrose in Canary Wharf and St Katharine Docks. 

Can donate dry food at Bow Church on Monday mornings (8.30-9.30am) and Sunday afternoons (1-2.30pm). 

  • Bethnal Green Foodbank – Tower Hamlets  

Can donate at St Matthew’s Church in Bethnal Green. Email for more details. 

Can donate items at their Hoxton warehouse and at drop-off locations around Hackney. 

Two drop-off locations – Waitrose in Westfield Stratford and Tesco in Beckton. 

Four drop-off locations across Barking and Dagenham  

Three drop-off locations in Dagenham 

Twelve drop-off locations in Ilford, South Woodford and Barkingside 

Can donate items on Saturday mornings to the William Morris Community Centre 

Volunteering your time to support your community

(Recruitment is now on pause while they process the phenomenal number of applications they have already received - this should be reopening in a few weeks so check back then)
NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. 
The NHS are recruiting an 'army' of volunteers who can support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus to stay well. You can help by signing up for one or more tasks including patient transport, NHS equipment transport, community response and check-in and chat telephone support. To sign up and for more details visit   

  • Look out for your neighbours 

The simplest thing everyone can do is look out for their neighbours and offer help with shopping and other errands. Put a note through the door rather than expecting people to answer their front door. There are likely to be self-organised community action groups already organised in your area offering help with shopping etc which you could join. To see if your neighbourhood has a group click here. 

  • Your local Foodbank  

Find your local foodbank here to volunteer your time to support people in your local area.  

FoodCycle has hubs across London and the UK, and turns surplus food from supermarkets and restaurants into community meals. They are looking for volunteers to help run their new take-away meal scheme Find out more here. 

In these exceptional circumstances, London Ambulance Service is opening its doors for those who want to help in any way they can. Sign up here. 

  • Tower Hamlets 

Tower Hamlets Council is working with the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre and Tower Hamlets Community Voluntary Sector on our Volunteering Hub.  If you are an individual who would like to volunteer to help those who are older or more vulnerable, or who may be self-isolating, you can offer support through the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre.   

The Volunteer Centre is now recruiting people to help with the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you would like to formally register, you can sign up on their website The centre will then work with the wider voluntary sector to match individuals to organisations that need additional volunteer support.  

  • Newham 

To support neighbours and charities in Newham, Active Newham are coordinating where volunteers are most needed. These could be roles delivering food parcels, providing information or sharing tasks like shopping or picking up medications. If you are interested in volunteering email  

  • Hackney 

Hackney will be launching webpages soon to mobilise people to volunteer their time to support Hackney residents throughout the crisis. More details will be here  

  • Barking and Dagenham 

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham have teamed with local community groups and faith organisations to get the right help to the right people and they’re looking for local people to volunteers to support those who most need it. Sign up here. 

  • Redbridge 

Volunteer Centre Redbridge are working with Redbridge Council to coordinate Coronavirus volunteering opportunities. Sign up here. 

  • Other areas 

Most local authorities/Councils are working with their local volunteering centres, CVS, local charities and community groups to coordinate volunteers in local opportunities to support those most at risk of the Coronavirus.  
For other London boroughs, please find your local volunteering centre here.
To find your local coordination point outside of London, visit the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) here. 

  • Online Volunteering

The Students' Union have compiled a number of ways to get involved in volunteering remotely from home including ZooniverseBe My EyesInstant WildMissing Maps and Freerice

Acts of kindness and support

  • Send a poem, letter, drawing or postcard to an elderly person in isolation 

East London Cares is asking for people to write a note and send it to the Cares Family to distribute to older neighbours. They’ve provided this guide to get you started. Email for more details. 

Your local care home will also welcome receiving these items in the post to brighten residents’ days and boost morale as family and friends are now not allowed to visit. 

  • 3D print face shields for the NHS

If you have a 3D printer and home and want to support the production of face shields, 3D Crowd are coordinating a scheme to produce these at home. Click here for more details.

  • Running a virtual learning/social opportunity  

If you have a specialism or interest professionally or personally that you’d like to share with the world, why not engage people remotely through a webinar or Zoom session?  
David Mills from the Institute of Dentistry will be talking about his work CT scanning parchment rolls, letters and cellulose acetate film at 4pm on Thursday 2nd April. Sign up here. 

  • Adopt a Grandparent 

Set-up by CHD Living who have 13 care homes across London and Surrey, the ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme has been launched to help combat loneliness. Pairing young people with an elderly companion for online chats, the campaign is designed to bring a sense of comfort to young people and the elderly who may not have grandparents/grandchildren, aiming to create lifelong friendships. For more details click here. 

  • Give Blood 

The NHS is urging people to give blood. Donations were 15% lower than expected in recent weeks, amid fears donors are feeling unsure about safety and if sessions are still taking place. Extra safety measures are in place. The need for blood doesn’t stop and donating saves lives – for more details about eligibility and to sign up click here. 

Donating funds to support community action

Support the East End Emergency Fund and help keep the most vulnerable people in the community safe and well. Your donation will be match funded by Canary Wharf Group for the first £50,000, and will go to charitable projects in east Londonthat care for those most at risk from Coronavirus.  

Donations will help community organisations across London struggling to meet demand for local services while trying to operate with significantly less resource. Many are now forced to rapidly rethink how they can deliver services. They often rely heavily on volunteers to deliver their services and are already experiencing a loss of income from fundraising events and activities. These vital VCS groups and organisations need to survive.

East London Cares helps older and younger people in Tower Hamlets and Hackney to share time, laughter and new experiences together. They’ve suspended face-to-face interactions between older and younger neighbours for now but over the coming weeks they’ll be helping older and younger people to retain contact – on the phone, online and by post. Donate to help make this happen and your donation will be match funded. 

Neighbours in Poplar provide practical support and care for vulnerable people who are living at home. Their hubs are now closed but they will continue to support people with picking up their shopping and medication, friendly phone calls, and delivering hot meals. To donate to support this work click here. 

Magic Breakfast provides healthy school breakfasts to 48,400 children across the country. With most schools closing, they are working to ensure that they will still be able to reach all the disadvantaged children who benefit from a Magic Breakfast. Give a Magic Breakfast here. 

  • Foodbanks 

Donate to the Trussell Trust to support foodbanks across the UK, or to specific Trussell Trust seeded foodbanks in your community – find your local one here to donate directly to them. 

First Love Foundation Foodbank, Bow Foodbank, Bethnal Green Foodbank and E1 Foodbank are independent foodbanks in Tower Hamlets who also need financial support to sustain their support to people facing crisis. 

People who are homeless are hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak. It’s hard to protect yourself from the coronavirus outbreak when you’re homeless. People who are sleeping rough are more likely to suffer from respiratory conditions. They can’t wash their hands. And if someone is sleeping rough or in a crowded night shelter, it’s impossible to self-isolate. 

Crisis are delivering ‘essentials’ packages to homeless people, as well as mobiles so they can keep in contact and follow health advice. Their centres will also remain open to ensure no-one is left isolated and in danger. A co-ordinated response will help more people, so Crisis are funding local charities and shelters, helping homeless organisations work together and reach more people who need them most. Donate here. 

Human Aid UK, based in Whitechapel, will be supporting Doctors, Nurses and staff of the Royal London Hospital, including those in self-isolation, with weekly food and supply deliveries. Donate here. 

An initiative set up to support the physical, mental, and day to day wellbeing of NHS staff across the nation. Physically to support the protection of staff on the frontline. Mentally they aim to provide counselling and psychological services. Day to day they want to set up a hassle-free small grants service to support childcare, transport, to provide perks for hospital facilities and more. They want to use the platform to also provide public and professional education resources on coronavirus, and build a cross-professional platform to help share tips and advice. Donate here 

The NET are running an appeal to raise funds for local charities and grassroots organisations that can provide vital support to people in the quickest way possible during this unprecedented pandemic. Click here for more details and to donate. 

FoTHCP are facing a huge challenge created by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. They are experiencing a loss of around £40,000 in income as they cancel events for the foreseeable future, and businesses cancel their company volunteering days with them. Access to green space is going to be so important for our wellbeing once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Until then, to ensure Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is ready to welcome the community back, to engage with local nature, history and each other, their small team of full-time staff are working to maintain the park and plan for the future. To donate, click here. 

  • Donate whilst you shop

Log onto whilst you shop and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase to a charity of your choice! You can give back whilst you are getting your essentials. 

More information: 

If you live further afield and would like some support in finding initiatives local to where you are, please contact Sarah Gifford, Community Engagement Officer on 

If you are a QM student, please register as a volunteer with QMSU Volunteering where you can also log your volunteering hours and find other opportunities to volunteer across London.