Give help, get help: Our COVID-19 mutual aid network - West Neighbourhood House

You can be a neighbourhood hero

When times are hard, we show up for our neighbours.

West Neighbourhood House is working with the support of other agencies to organize mutual aid networks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mutual aid is a way for neighbours to support neighbours. It connects those who can give with those who need help. It’s based on the idea that everyone needs support from others, and everyone has something to contribute!

To reduce the spread of this virus, everyone needs practice physical distancing, limit our interactions with others, and keep our trips out to the essentials. But some people can’t take care of even their basic needs, or can’t go outside safely. That’s where we come in.

What are neighbourhood pods?

Pods are groups of about five to 30 neighbours from the same area, like the same building or the same few city blocks. They can be text message groups, group chats, or phone trees. We recommend WhatsApp as a tool to communicate, but you can use what works for you. Online tools like social media and Google Drive can be great, but not everyone has access to the internet or devices — so consider picking up the phone!

Pods are independent. They organize their work themselves, using a system that works for them. Here at West Neighbourhood House, we will help you get started and support you throughout the process.

What pods do

Pod leaders are volunteers who help organize and coordinate their pod and its work. Responsibilities include:

  • Reaching out to your neighbours
  • Checking in on, and reporting back about, the needs of the community your pod serves
  • Keeping track of requests, like grocery help, and assigning volunteers to complete them
  • Co-ordinating and moderating a neighbourhood group chat or phone tree
  • Staying in touch with other pod leaders to share resources, get training and stay safe

If you can take on this role, or you’re already doing this type of work and want our support, click the button below to fill out the pod leader form.

The Downtown West Mutual Aid Network

map of mutual aid area bounded by bathurst, bloor, lake ontario and roncesvalles

Our network covers the area bounded by Roncesvalles Ave. in the west, Bloor St. in the north, Bathurst St. in the east and Lake Ontario to the south (not including the island communities). These boundaries are not strict! Also, we are happy to connect people to resources outside of our network if needed.

Who can get and give mutual aid

Everyone is welcome. We aim to meet the needs of our vulnerable neighbours especially. This may include seniors, people with disabilities, people who are new to the neighbourhood or isolated without friends or family nearby, people who are homeless or poorly housed, and anyone else who is in need right now.

Resources for pods

West Neighbourhood House will provide training, support, safety advice and problem-solving to neighbourhood pods.

Quick start guide

Mutual aid COVID-19 safety guide

Pod leader resources


The Public Health Agency of Canada now suggests wearing non-medical masks when you’re indoors and around people who are not in your immediate family, such as on public transit and at grocery stores. However, you need to put on, wear, and take off your mask safely in order for it to work. Here is a video that demonstrates how to use a mask safely.

Support our efforts

Mutual aid is the least expensive way to deliver services to the community. But many incidental costs come up during the course of this work. You can donate to our COVID-19 response fund here. It is used for various pandemic-specific response initiatives across West Neighbourhood House.

Get in touch

Questions about mutual aid? Want to know how you or a neighbour can get help?

Call (416) 532-4828

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