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Supporting our communities

We’re working closely with government and the NHS to support the fight against coronavirus.

Wellbeing volunteerWe’ve released all our clinical staff from their academic duties and have released diagnostic equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) to the NHS and made parking spaces on our campuses available for NHS workers. We’re also offering accommodation vacated by students to the NHS and Tower Hamlets Council.  

Learn more about how staff and students can support their local communities below. If you live further afield and would like help finding initiatives near you, contact Sarah Gifford, Community Engagement Officer

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

If you are providing support, keep safe and follow government advice to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Do not put yourself or others at risk if you feel unwell.

If you know any Queen Mary students or staff who have gone the extra mile during this emergency, get in touch with the PR team.

You can find all news stories relating to Queen Mary's contribution to the response effort on our coronavirus news page.

Festival of communities volunteer


Research and technical teams

There are lots of ways for researchers and those with technical expertise to contribute to the Queen Mary or national COVID-19 response effort. Find out more.

Donate to a foodbank 

With people buying more products to reduce the frequency of their shopping trips, supermarkets aren’t able to keep supplies as stocked as usual. Fewer donations are being made, and foodbanks are concerned they won’t be able to cope with increased demand from local families. 

A 2019 report by London Food Link revealed that 1.5 million 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 can 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 time to prevent people leaving their houses to drop off items. Please check with your local foodbank. 

  • First Love Foundation (Tower Hamlets): you 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 
  • Bow Foodbank (Tower Hamlets): you 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): you can donate at St Matthew’s Church in Bethnal Green. Email for more details 
  • Hackney Foodbank: you can donate items at their Hoxton warehouse and at drop-off locations around Hackney 
  • Newham Foodbank: you can drop off items at Waitrose in Westfield Stratford and Tesco in Beckton 
  • Barking Foodbank: four drop-off locations across Barking and Dagenham 
  • Dagenham Foodbank: three drop-off locations in Dagenham 
  • Redbridge Foodbank: 12 drop-off locations in Ilford, South Woodford and Barkingside 
  • Rukhsana Khan Foundation Food Bank (Waltham Forest): you can donate items on Saturday mornings at the William Morris Community Centre 
  • For foodbank drop-off locations in other areas of London and the UK, check the Trussell Trust website.

Volunteer in your community 

There are a number of ways to support your local community during the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more below. 

NHS Volunteer Responders  

Recruitment has been temporarily paused since 29 March while they process existing applications. 

NHS Volunteer Responders has been set up to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. The NHS are recruiting an 'army' of volunteers to support the 1.5m people in England who are at most risk from the virus. You can help by signing up for tasks including patient transport, NHS equipment transport, community response, and telephone support. 

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 in your area that you could join. Find out if your neighbourhood has a group.  

Your local foodbank   

Find your local foodbank 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 takeaway meal scheme. 

London Ambulance Service  

In these exceptional circumstances, London Ambulance Service is opening its doors to volunteers who want to help in any way they can. 

Tower Hamlets 

If you would like to volunteer to help those who are older or more vulnerable in Tower Hamlets, you can offer support through the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Centre.    


To support neighbours and charities in Newham, Active Newham are coordinating where volunteers are most needed. This could mean delivering food parcels, providing information, or sharing tasks like shopping and collecting medications. If you’re interested in getting involved, email


Hackney Council has published information for those looking to volunteer their time to support Hackney residents. 

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.  


Volunteer Centre Redbridge are working with Redbridge Council to coordinate coronavirus volunteering opportunities

Other areas  

Most local authorities 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. 

Find your local volunteering centre in London

To find your local coordination point outside of London, visit the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.  

Online volunteering 

If you're interested in volunteering remotely, have a look at these initiatives:

Donate to support community action

East End Emergency Fund

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 London that care for those most at risk from coronavirus.

The London Communities Coronavirus Appeal

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 voluntary and community sector groups and organisations need to survive – find out more and donate

East London Cares

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

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 through friendly phone calls, picking up their shopping and medication, and delivering hot meals. Donate here.

Support the homeless through Crisis

People who are homeless are hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak. 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 mobile phones 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 on Crisis’s website.

Human Aid

Human Aid, based at the Royal London Hospital 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.

Help Them Help Us

Help Them Help Us is an initiative set up to support the physical, mental, and day-to-day wellbeing of NHS staff across the UK. 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 and transport and provide perks for hospital facilities and more.

They are also aiming to use the platform to provide public and professional education resources on coronavirus and build a cross-professional platform to help share tips and advice. Donate here.   

National Emergencies Trust (NET)

The NET is running an appeal to raise funds for local charities and grassroots organisations that provide vital support to people during the pandemic. Find out more and donate.

Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park (FoTCHP) emergency appeal

FoTHCP are facing a huge challenge created by the COVID-19 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. Donate here

Stepney City Farm urgent appeal

Stepney City Farm, one of 13 city farms in London, is based just down the road from Queen Mary's Mile End and Whitechapel campuses and it urgently needs support to see it through a sudden loss of income due to the crisis. They are not eligible for any of the government help which has been announced so far. 

They provide a hub of learning and support to local communities, including vulnerable people, older people, people experiencing anxiety and depression, children, young people, people with disabilities, and people with learning difficulties.  

Support them to be able to still provide this vital community space for residents when we are not in lock-down. A donation of £2.50 could feed their sheep and goats for a day; £10 could feed their rabbits for a week; £25 could feed the chickens for a week; and £50 could pay for a donkey hoof trim.

Donate while you shop

Log onto while you shop and Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase to a charity of your choice.