Community call as coronavirus cases rise

Neighbour

Scots are being asked to ensure links within their community are strengthened as the prospect of mass social isolation grows

12th March 2020 by Gareth Jones 1 Comment

Communities have been urged to work together as coronavirus cases across the country rise.

In the wake of the £30 billion emergency fund announced in the budget yesterday and anticipated switch to the delay phase of the government four-part plan, leaders from different sectors have today joined forces to launch the Community Action Response to encourage everyone to do what they can to support their communities and particularly vulnerable and isolated people during Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Launched by Eden Project Communities with partners the National Lottery Community Fund, Nextdoor, Neighbourhood Watch, Campaign to End Loneliness, SCVO and Voluntary Health Scotland, the Community Action Response has been created because of the unprecedented challenge that Coronavirus presents for people in every neighbourhood in the UK.

Eden Project Communities is a UK wide network that has grown out of community building campaign The Big Lunch, which reaches over six million people in communities every year.  The organisations are calling for everyone to take steps that will help communities cope when the worst impacts of the virus hit.

Community action response - five things you can do

1.  Think of others, consider your actions and be kind. People in every community will face the challenges of Covid-19 in some way – from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.

2. Connect and reach out to your neighbours: as self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.

3.  Make the most of local online groups: Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations using platforms like Nextdoor.

4.  Support vulnerable or isolated people: different groups in our communities are at increased risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to foodbanks to help.

5.  Share accurate information and advice: Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Sign post them to the correct advice from NHS Inform Scotland and to encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.

Research from The Big Lunch shows nearly a fifth of us in the UK have no-one in our neighbourhoods outside our immediate family we could call on if we needed help or support. With the rapid spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) increasingly likely, this is a real risk and combined with the need to self-isolate this gap in our community connections needs to be closed. The research also reported that more than 36 million people feel distant or very distant from their neighbours, yet three quarters of us believe it would be better for our communities if we were closer to them. The Big Lunch commissioned independent research published in their Closing the Distance report to explore how connected our people in communities in the UK feel to one another.

Bringing people together to advocate for community action, Peter Stewart, executive director of the Eden Project, said: “Through our work with communities UK wide we see the difference that people working together can have. Neighbourly support can make a huge difference in a world fraught with challenge. The current threat is set to impact all of us in one form or another, and stronger local connections within communities are vital to see this crisis out. That’s why we’ve joined forces with our friends and partners to call on people everywhere to take positive action to support and care for each other in the coming weeks and months.”

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we know community life and connections can help to build bonds of support during difficult times. Being kind, offering support and thinking of one another makes neighbourhoods and communities stronger together. This is particularly important for those who are more vulnerable and isolated. At The National Lottery Community Fund we support communities to thrive, this is why we’re pledging our support for this call to action in the coming weeks and months.”

Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “We are urging our members and the wider voluntary sector in Scotland to take care of the health of their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. We encourage organisations to follow official advice. The official guidance will change over time so the key is to stay up-to-date with that whilst also reviewing the specific risks that COVID-19 poses to your organisation or service. Understanding the potential risks and impacts in your own particular context is the best way to start planning to mitigate them.

SCVO has published information on our website with details how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, how to support staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and service users, and information on how to keep services running. There are also signposts to official channels such as the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites for the most up to date information available.”

Kiren Zubairi, policy engagement officer at Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS), said: “VHS would like to lend its support to the Eden Project’s Community Action Response. This provides communities and individuals with a set of very practical and effective actions that can allow us to play our part in ensuring we can all stay healthy. VHS especially appreciate the focus on new ways of staying connected and supporting one another as self-isolation increases. We all know the negative impact that loneliness and social isolation can have for individuals and communities. Therefore, it is really important to volunteer where appropriate or simply pick up the phone, use social media or email to stay connected and support all those within our communities and networks.”

Ian Bretman, Neighbourhood Watch chair, said: "At this stressful time it is more important than ever that we come together to support our loved ones and communities, especially the isolated and vulnerable. We all perform different roles in our daily lives but we are also all neighbours and all have the ability to be a good neighbour at this crucial time.”

Eden Project Communities is mobilising its grassroots community-based network and launching #CommunityResponse on social media to help share the actions. They also intend to further support communities in the coming days, weeks and months as needs become clear.

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