Mutual aid groups have been a critical part of the coronavirus disease‐2019 (Covid‐19) response and continue to address the needs of people in their communities. To understand how mutual aid and similar community support groups can be sustained over time, we test the idea that using group‐based strategies initiates psychological trajectories that shape future participation. We conducted a preregistered longitudinal survey among Covid‐19 mutual aid and community support volunteers in the United Kingdom (nWave 1 = 600, May 2021; nWave 2 = 299, July–August 2021) who were registered panelists of an independent research organization. Assessments included measures of group‐based strategies, collective participation predictors, participation experience, and sustained participation. Volunteers engaged in a wide range of support activities including shopping, emotional support provision, and deliveries. Two group‐based strategies—group alliances and group horizontality—longitudinally predicted sustained participation. In addition, sense of community responsibility and burnout were longitudinal predictors of sustained participation. Importantly, predictors of sustained participation diverged for volunteers with different levels of volunteering experience. Our findings highlight group‐based strategies as a potential resource for organizers seeking to sustain participation. Use can be tailored depending on the profiles of individual Covid‐19 mutual aid volunteers. These findings have significance beyond Covid‐19 as they are relevant to sustaining community resilience more generally.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Federica Curcurú for her helpful feedback on an earlier version of this paper. This work was supported by the UK Research and Innovation/Economic and Social Research Council (grant reference number ES/V005383/1).
© 2023 The Authors. Journal of Applied Social Psychology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.
- Social Psychology