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Communities worked well together during Covid - how do we sustain that during the next crisis?

Communities worked well together during Covid - how do we sustain that during the next crisis?
3 min read

It is an understatement to say the Covid-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges across all walks of life, and as Director of the Emergencies Partnerships those challenges were at the forefront of my day to day work.

In the aftermath of tragedies in 2017, including the Grenfell Tower disaster, it was clear there needed to be a more a coordinated response across the various organisations and agencies that were doing their best to support those impacted; to stop duplication of effort, to listen to the local community and to stop people falling through the gaps. The Emergencies Partnership was born in 2018 to bring together local and national organisations to improve the response before, during and after an emergency; however, no one foresaw the global health pandemic on the horizon.

Yet, since March 2020, we have pulled together as a sector, with our government stakeholders, to help where needed and, in places, freeing up blue light responders to focus on the most urgent priorities. From volunteers playing an integral role in the vaccination programme and faith communities tackling vaccine hesitancy, to befriending schemes for domestic violence victims and supporting those at risk of isolation and loneliness, the Emergencies Partnership has enabled local, regional and national organisations to share intelligence, insight and resources to provide effective solutions.

The pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of listening to those who are most affected by emergencies

This week, we launched Lasting Connections, highlighting the inspiring initiatives born out of community partnership-working amidst the pandemic and the work taking place to identify people and groups who are, or are likely to be, disproportionately impacted.

The report shows what we have learned over the last year and the pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of listening to those who are most affected by emergencies. At the Emergencies Partnership, we’ve outlined recommendations for systemic change to ensure our country’s most at-risk communities get the right support, at the right time in an emergency. These include:

  • Organisations should proactively seek greater coordination and intelligence-sharing at a local and national level, and be supported in doing so - preserving such structures while making them accessible to all is a collective responsibility
  • Organisations should adopt a human-centred and locally-tailored approach to improving resilience - collaboration that works is always built on a diverse range of voices reflective of society
  • Statutory bodies should continue working closely with the voluntary and community sector to increase resilience, and support wider recovery - the government should continue to work with civil society to ensure they are part of emergency response structures, local and national, as well as being consulted around the new national resilience strategy, as referenced in the Integrated Defence and Security Review 2021 report.

We need to continue our model of sharing insight, pooling resources and collaborating with all shapes and sizes of organisations to build crisis preparedness and community resilience before the next shock hits.

Working together with our government stakeholders we have come an incredible distance since the start of the pandemic, and we thank the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for their support and in particular Minister for Civil Society, Baroness Dianne Barran. None of that distance would have been covered without the willingness and hard work of all our partners – from the national organisations to the local voluntary community groups, as well as those outside the sector. 

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