Opinion

Covid 19 Report 540X356

Community Projects

Sustaining community spirit beyond Covid-19

May 7th, 2020

Earlier this week we designed a report for Power to Change that looked at the wave of social solidarity and community action sweeping across the country, and how this might be sustained for the longer term, as we emerge from the Covid-19 crises.

The report makes for fascinating reading, as it identifies several key insights from discussions with businesses, community and local authority leaders, civil servants and those with a detailed knowledge of local communities.

These are insights that focus on the reality of community efforts, and how these can be supported moving forward because it's these communities that have changed quickly to support local needs. 

As Iain Chambers, director of the Brighton Food Factory put it.

"Communities have moved much faster than the government, councils, big charities and funders, corporations and philanthropists. Without even so much as a handshake – because remember that's not allowed – people who already trusted each other because of their existing connections, agreed to move with safety, purpose, determination and speed to get help and reassurance that same day to those that needed it most. Again no contracts, no financial models, no funding streams, no command structures, no application forms, no sodding impact assessments…"

The report highlights the role of community organisations in tackling the crises and ensuring people's wellbeing and reinforces the fact that communities themselves, are often best placed to meet public needs and ensure the long term sustainability of local economies. So is the future one of a more community focussed economic model?

This, as the report suggests, would involve rewarding and resourcing the organisation at the forefront of the crises, putting communities directly in charge of local budgets and giving community organisations a strategic role in the economic recovery.

Ideas that may still be considered marginal in many quarters.

Or, as the report also says. While this explosion of community spirit during the coronavirus crisis has been extraordinary and heartwarming, it could turn out to be a blip; just a feature of the crises itself, rather than of the society that comes out the other side.

Think back to 9/11 and the aftermath of the attack on the twin towers. Americans reported rising trust in government, local authorities and more work on community projects. Yet six months later, these attitudes had changed entirely, and it was back to 'normal'.

It's a project we enjoyed working on, and you can download the report from Power to Change here: