Rye Mutual Aid, a helping hand


Never before has there been a more urgent need for our communities to pull together than now when we need to focus on the really important issues we all face as the coronavirus establishes and spreads itself through the United Kingdom.

In Rye we already have the benefit of REACT – the Rye Emergency Community Action Team – with Colonel Anthony Kimber as the driving force, which takes care of local emergencies  as they occur.

The REACT team has long established working relationships with Rother Emergency Planning, Rye Town Council. and many other useful and supportive organisations. It is also happy to advise and support a recently created body, Rye Mutual Aid, a group of volunteers formed in response to the current pandemic crisis to help and take care of the community aid aspect.

Rye Mutual Aid (RMA) was created last Sunday, March 15 by Caroline Drummond and Jen Sinclair and as of Tuesday night, the group of volunteers was close to 500, combining the members of their Facebook group and the people who are not on Facebook but have filled in their survey to become volunteers.

RMA is in the process of identifying two key volunteers (known as dispatchers) for each of the ten sub zones of Rye and of the villages/or groups of villages in Rye’s surrounding area.

Once this is done, RMA will print (courtesy of Ian Foster at Adams of Rye) and distribute letters to each household in Rye and the surrounding area with the contact details of volunteer dispatchers, so that every person at home can call and get help. They might be able to help with:

  • Checking in on people by phone
  • Buying or picking up shopping (food, medication etc.) on behalf of neighbours
  • Delivering/collecting things by car or by foot/bike
  • Posting mail
  • Putting bins out
  • Dog walking

Obviously RMA is aware that there are some serious health and safety as well as security considerations with volunteers offering help to self-isolated people at this time but, following the example of many similar mutual aid groups around the country, general guidelines and essential advice has been written for the volunteers so that they keep safe and the residents keep safe too.

These guidelines have been shared with Inspector Jonathan Hartley (Police, Hastings and Rother Prevention), with Anthony Kimber (REACT), with Richard Farhall (Rye Town Council) and with Nigel Ray (Rother Emergency Planning).

RMA has received many congratulations on the speed, scale and scope of its work. Inspector Hartley described “how impressive it is to have such a community within our area of policing.”

Nigel sent his “congratulations on a comprehensive set of well-crafted documents” and asked if he could share them as example of good practice to other community groups forming around Rother.

The Rye Food Bank is currently dealing with a difficult situation as supermarket shelves are empty and essentials cannot be bought for the families and people who need it the most. Chris Emson from the food bank mentioned that she tried to place an order for 40 bags of potatoes and could only get five. She is trying to source products from other suppliers but funds are scarce.

There is a particularly worry about children who normally get a hot lunch at school as they are entitled to free school meals. When/if they have to stay at home, they might go a whole day without eating a hot meal. She is thinking of ways to provide hot meals.

In order to cover the costs of RMA (gloves for volunteers, website domain and hosting, badges for volunteers, etc.) and to help support the fantastic effort of the food bank, a crowdfunding page has been created and nearly £500 was reached within a couple of hours!  The target has been increased to make sure that the support for the foodbank is significant.

Letters will shortly be sent to local residents and information shared in the April edition of Rye Fixtures as well as updates from Rye News and if you feel you need help from Rye Mutual Aid then:

1. You can call the telephone number of the dispatcher of your area (numbers will be at the back of the letter to residents)
2. The dispatcher will find a volunteer able to help and let you know their name
3. If the volunteer needs to come to your house, he/she will be wearing a Rye Mutual Aid badge and you can ask their name

Don’t worry, they will respect key health and safety rules to make sure that you stay safe and that they stay safe, such as not coming closer than two metres, wearing gloves when necessary (carrying shopping) etc. There will be further information on prevention on the letter.

This is a fantastic example of our community groups consolidating and working in partnership for the good of us all. Due to the current virtual lockdown many of us now find we have more time available than we planned for, so please use this luxury of time to look at what they are implementing as we are lucky to have the support and expertise from these groups of people who care about you. Give them your support.

Image Credits: Rye News library .

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  1. To reassure the community, we are taking immediate action to support children in receipt of free school meals during this period of school closure. Our trust is working with local and regional providers to offer interim support next week until a national offer can be formulated. Further details on our website:




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