Despite undeniable hardship, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also saw an outpour of community solidarity and mutual aid towards those in need. This study explored why people participated in mutual aid during the pandemic as well as the factors that contributed to continued involvement and/or its decline. We conducted remote interviews with 17 people in South-east England who had been involved in volunteering and local community mutual aid support groups during the first UK lockdown from March to May 2020. Using thematic analysis, we identified two themes: 1) The emergence of social groups and their psychosocial effects, and 2) Enduring connections and barriers to continued participation. Participants often reported an emergent shared identity, preferring the localised nature of these groups and the associated mutual nature of support. They also reported intentions to continue providing such support, should the need arise again, and any barriers to continued involvement in mutual aid were better explained by structural and systemic issues, rather than individual motivational factors.
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