People must stay connected whilst self-isolating from coronavirus
Some of the groups who are most vulnerable to the virus have been asked to drastically restrict social contact for up to 12 weeks, writes Holly Lynch MP.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Integration is asking communities to share projects aimed at connecting people who are at risk of being socially isolated over the course of this health crisis.
Parliament is trying to respond to competing pressures at the minute. Emergency legislation has to be passed, information has to be provided and scrutinised, and questions about the ongoing complications of responding to the coronavirus have to be put to Ministers.
We need to do this whilst simultaneously recognising that bringing 650 MPs together in central London from all over the country, to work in close proximity to each other, is madness.
So the important work needs to continue but like in every other sector and in all other aspects of life, we are looking to do things differently.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Integration is made up of cross-party MPs and had agreed to undertake it’s first inquiry of the new Parliament into the provision of English language lessons. Like other inquires of this kind, we agreed to hold evidence sessions inviting key witnesses into Parliament, undertake visits to ESOL projects (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and put out a call for evidence.
Whilst other APPGs are having to cancel and postpone their work programmes, we felt that the nature of the APPG for Social Integration meant that we had a responsibility to do things differently. The focus of our work has always been finding practical ways of overcoming social barriers and connecting people and this would be more important than ever over the coming weeks.
We wanted to change both the subject of our first inquiry and the way we conducted it, to ensure that we were responding to the challenges before us, taking evidence in all sorts of different ways.
So today we are launching our call for evidence, asking communities to share with us their examples of projects aimed at connecting people who are at risk of being socially isolated over the course of this crisis.
Some of the groups who are most vulnerable to the virus have been asked to drastically restrict social contact for up to 12 weeks. Whilst there are very good reasons for this, it inevitably creates logistical issues around shopping for food or other essential items, but it would also place a strain on anyone’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
To overcome this, some truly innovative schemes and projects have sprung up, often coordinated by volunteers and charity organisations seeking to explore any and all ways of staying in touch with people throughout these testing times.
As part of our call for evidence, we want to know;
- What issues has the COVID-19 crisis raised for socially isolated groups?
- How is your organisation responding to these challenges to reach these groups?
- What barriers and challenges have you encountered in your work to reach and support socially isolated groups? How have you responded to these barriers and solved such problems?
- Is there best practice you would like to share with others working in similar situations? What doesn’t work in these situations?
- What should the Government be doing to support you in your work to reach and support socially isolated groups? What support would be useful from other relevant groups such as councils, the NHS and other civil society bodies?
Please do send us your information and responses to any or all of the questions via social media tweeting at @integrationAPPG or using the #socialintegrationappg hashtag. We would also like to see your videos explaining any such community projects which you can send to us on social media or send the file to us via WeTransfer.
The call for evidence is open until Friday 17th April. We will produce a report by the end of April which will showcase all of the best practice. We will also be highlighting these projects throughout the call for evidence.
More information can be found HERE.