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New report highlights how community organisations have risen to the challenge of lockdown

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Locality’s new report ‘We Were Built For This’ shows that community organisations have been key to an effective response to the coronavirus crisis and makes recommendations to the government about putting such organisations at the centre of recovery planning.

  • Marion Curtis of Luton Irish Forum keeping the community connected
    Marion Curtis of Luton Irish Forum keeping the community connected

Over 100 community organisations contributed to the report, which calls on government to: support a community–powered economic recovery; create collaborative public services; and provide support to turn community spirit into community power.

This important report is available here. Locality is a membership network for English community organisations.

The report will be of interest to Irish in Britain members who will have similar experiences of quickly shifting service delivery when lockdown was declared in mid–March and have witnessed the vivacity of community organisations to the crisis response.

By exploring a number of case studies of organisations across England, the report shows that existing social infrastructure has been vital to the crisis response and calls of the government to build on this by harnessing community power and placing communities at the centre of the economic recovery.

It also argued that community organisations need further support from the government. With reports that charities could lose £12.4bn in income this coming year, this is an extremely pressing issue.

Innovations

While many challenges remain, the report asserts that this is also a window of opportunity to enact positive change. Locality call on policymakers to catch up with the innovations that have been exhibited over the last three months by community organisations.

The Chief Executive of the Charles Burrell Centre, Danny Whitehouse says that the vital role of community organisations “combined with the new wave of community spirit we’ve seen, will equip us to deal with the social and economic challenges that are coming down the track.”

The Irish in Britain have witnessed this revived community spirit too – from the amazing volunteers in the GAA, the CARA project in Liverpool, partnerships in Leeds, the West Midlands, London and elsewhere.

As our CEO Brian Dalton wrote in the Irish Post recently,

“Irish people thrive in the act of the communal, working together to solve common problems, coming together for kinship and restoration. The social distancing restrictions mean those opportunities are denied to us at the moment, but new conditions have prompted and allowed us to innovate.”

Irish in Britain is pleased to have also played a role in connecting our members with each other. We have seen fantastic new partnerships and a great spirit of collaboration among Irish community groups during the lockdown. 

It is very much our experience, as the report states more widely about community organisations, that they are “the cogs of connection” in the crisis response.