Community organisations reached far beyond their initial remits to support people during lockdown.
Community in Action has been charting the response across health and social care organisations in Scotland to COVID-19. What has been so powerful and led to ultimate success is the nimble and flexible nature of their work. We have seen national organisations pivot to online ways of working, in some cases increasing the numbers of those they support in the most challenging of circumstances. What we have also seen is the huge efforts of local organisations that have proved to be one step ahead in terms of meeting the needs of those in their communities.
For many local communities support came down to the essentials of putting food on the table, providing people with fuel payments and money advice. People who were already in unstable work bore the brunt of the economic shifts during lockdown as they were furloughed or lost their jobs. The response then from local organisations was absolutely crucial.
PKAVS Tampon Taxi addressed period poverty, an element of overall poverty, and responded by providing free period products to women and girls in the Perth and Kinross area. The work was deeply routed in partnership, a pertinent theme when it comes to localised COVID-19 operations.
Govan Youth Information Project (GYIP) provided, again in partnership, daily meals for local young people using existing funding to roll out COVID-19 support. This took pressure off of families facing food shortages and proved to pull the community together creating a grassroots level of support.
In South Ayrshire, Voluntary Action South Ayrshire’s South Ayrshire Lifeline stepped in to support the local community in a variety of ways. Operating seven days a week, a helpline was set up, a shopping delivery service rolled out, hearing aid batteries distributed and a befriending service supported those who were increasingly isolated.
A striking example of an organisation completely transforming its work is Mel-Milaap that went from providing day care to older people to running a comprehensive food delivery service including delivering cooked meals to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Again partnership was key with two Glasgow temples and restaurants supporting efforts.
Community-based organisations during COVID-19 have stretched well beyond their original remits to ensure people in their localities were provided with the support they needed during lockdown. As we head towards the future, the importance of these organisations and their impact on those they empower, support and champion should continue to be highlighted.