Merton Mutual Aid
1483. Zakaria Dada
Zakaria Dada, aged 18, from London, set up ‘Merton Mutual Aid’, building a team of 2,000 volunteers to deliver groceries and prescriptions during lockdown.
Inspired to take action to help others when his A-Level exams were cancelled, Zakaria created the group from scratch, managing all email requests from residents requiring assistance, along with assisting local groups with funding, and delivering thousands of items to local NHS hospitals and care homes. He also partnered with AFC Wimbledon Fans, securing a £10,000 grant to supply and deliver laptops and tablets to digitally excluded children.
In a personal letter to Zakaria, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I wanted to write to you personally to thank you for your service to others, bringing together thousands of volunteers to uplift the community of Merton.
“By setting up ‘Merton Mutual Aid’ you have galvanised over 3,000 volunteers to deliver hot meals and food parcels across the borough, brightening up the days of those whose doorsteps you deliver to. I was particularly inspired to hear about your partnership with the fans of AFC Wimbledon to deliver hundreds of laptops and tablets to keep young people online and connected.”
“From the time I set up the group I have been blown away by the community spirit being shown and it has been such a great honour to be able to lead this relief effort in the borough of Merton during the most difficult period in recent history. We are told that during times of disaster, look for the helpers, and this was never more true than during the lockdown where people of all political affiliations, creeds, and genders joined neutral Mutual Aid groups to help the most vulnerable in society. This award is thus equally shared by the thousands of volunteers in Merton who joined hands so quickly and remain to this day.”
Pictured below: Zakaria and his dad preparing food parcels for delivery