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Introduction to Mutual Aid

In New York City and beyond, the practice of mutual aid – neighbors helping neighbors – is one that reflects people's power to take action, help one another, and improve their communities. Learn more about it in this guide.

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This Guide is about mutual aid – the practice of investing in the well-being of your community, and, more specifically, the people you share it with. Mutual aid can look like many different things, from sharing a hot meal to giving a person a ride to a doctor’s appointment. In other words, it’s about neighbors helping neighbors, whenever and however they can.

Use this guide to find out how you can get started with mutual aid.

Mutual Aid Video

The Need for Mutual Aid

Mutual aid involves building relationships, and sharing resources and skills to take care of one another in times of crisis, and in the everyday. It is founded on principles of solidarity – not charity. It is people working together to meet their needs outside of unjust systems of power that impact us all. 

Mutual aid initiatives work because they operate through horizontal structures of decision-making and resource sharing. This means that all people involved are on an equal playing field – no one has more power or authority than anyone else.

In this way, mutual aid takes away the shame often associated with asking for help and allows people to access the resources they need with dignity. Mutual aid projects are necessary because they empower community members to be involved and take action, and be creative when tackling issues that affect their community. 

How to Find Your Mutual Aid Network

Mutual aid groups are sprinkled all throughout New York City. To meet your neighbors, tap into your community’s resources, and/or offer your time and support where you can – find the mutual aid group and network closest to you.

Look up your address in Mutual Aid NYC’s Group Locator.

How to Request Resources From Your Mutual Aid Group

Most mutual aid groups provide help/resources request forms on their websites. In some instances, it may be most effective to reach out via direct message on their social media (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter). In your request, be sure to include the following:

  • Name and Contact
  • Description of the Request
    • Type of resource or service (groceries, transportation, baby supplies, etc.)
    • Timeline of request (how soon you need it and deadlines where applicable)
    • Recipient of request (yourself or someone else)
    • Financial need (what can you afford to pay and/or how much you need to afford a resource)

How to Offer Support to Your Network

Caring for your community and its members can look like a lot of different things. Here are some examples of ways to contribute to your mutual aid group:

1. Volunteer

  • Deliver groceries
  • Cook and share meals
  • Accompany people to medical appointments
  • Translate government documents
  • Help people fill out forms


2. Donate

  • Deliver groceries
  • Donate directly to your local Mutual Aid Network
  • Fill up the community refrigerator
  • Respond to specific asks (like winter coat donations)

3. Add Resources to Your Local Mutual Aid Resource Directory