In Acton, the community came together by setting up a network of local groups via the messaging app WhatsApp on their mobile phones. One of the key members is fashion designer Kal Di Paola, who is also involved in the art Acton Unframed street art project.
She said: “In Acton, we’ve set up a WhatsApp network that was created in response to the pandemic and it was put together in the first week of the first national lockdown. We now have over 60 streets in Acton that have Whatsapp groups and they are connected to a central Whatsapp group which has representation from each of the streets and also has local councillor representation.
“We found this network to be a vital lifeline for our community. During the pandemic, it has allowed us to support one and other. It has brought the neighbourhood closer together. People have got to know their neighbours, friendships have been built, and people have been supported in a really localised way. And what has been really clear during the pandemic is that when communities are connected – and our communities have never been more connected than they are now – news can spread quickly and that include fake news. And, so, it is really important to have a network where official news can be shared to as many people as possible.
“We are seeing a noticeable increase in the sense of community and I think that comes from people being at home more and being more connected to their neighbours through the networks that have been set up and just being present and more aware of what is happening in their neighbourhood and in their street.”
Starting up a WhatsApp group is not complicated. Learn how you can set-up your own How to Set Up a local WhatsApp group for your street or neighbourhood.