Learning from connected communities during COVID19

“There is a real show of humanity and kindness in action.”

Community-building and the coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic continues we’re all thinking about how to stay connected and support the people in our communities who are most vulnerable at the moment. 

We know that we need to avoid unnecessary social contact to slow the coronavirus. The question many of us are dealing with now is: ‘how can our communities and society adapt to take care of everyone who is affected or self-isolating?’

Outside the Box’s Community Connections worker for the Brechin and Edzell areas, Derek, has been sharing some of the ways local people have been supporting each other. When it comes pulling together as a well connected community, Edzell has particular experience. Because of flooding in 2012 affecting 45 homes and causing more damage, Edzell Flood Group formed to do resilience planning and make sure the village would be well prepared for future situations. 

Tip #1: Talk, listen and plan

Well organised communitybased groups are well placed to communicate with and support with their communities at this critical time. Whether a community needs to deal with climate extremes or a pandemic, we’ve learned that having conversations about what people will need and planning out solutions together is a good place to start. 

Building resilience is a slow process, but every conversation and plan helps to knit the community together. The positive effect of this is that the time you put into strengthening your community now will help it for years to come. 

Tip #2: Reach out

In the past few days, the Edzell Village Improvement Society has been even more of a hub of information and ideas in the community. On the Village Improvement Society’s Facebook page they have been sharing official advice and giving locals ways to get in touch to ask for support. 

There’s also a Brechin/Ezdell Corona support group where folk are offering help to those who need it, and the Brechin Community Pantry is ramping up its efforts. 

Remembering that not everyone uses social media or the internet, it has been important to use flyers and phone calls to communicate while limiting face to face social contact. Being neighbourly and staying in touch with people who might need help makes a big difference!

Eden Project Communities poster about COVID 19, with 5 ways you can make a positive difference in your community.

‘Community Action Response: Covid 19. 5 things you can do to make a positive difference in your community: Think of others, consider your actions and be kind. Connect and reach out to your neighbours. Make the most of local online groups. Support vulnerable or isolated people. Share accurate information and advice.’

Voluntary sector organisations have got together to create Community Action Response to encourage everyone to take steps to help communities cope with the virus. You can find out more and download their posters here. 

Tip #3: Stepping up to give practical support

Local shops in Brechin and Edzell have been offering a delivery service at no charge, so people more at risk don’t need to go outside to get their groceries. A local barber is offering to travel to people’s homes to give haircuts, and over 50 litres of fresh soup have been cooked to distribute to those who need it. 

Doing what we can for one another takes many forms, and there are things people can do even while self isolating. Community Connections worker Derek, is at home ill, but has been reaching out and encouraging people to work together. He told us “It fills my heart with hope and pride when I see the response by the local community to this pandemic from individuals to business. There is a real show of humanity and kindness in action.”

Whether you’re taking care of yourself and others from home, at work or out in your community, remember to follow official advice, wash your hands well, and treat each other with care. Work which has kindness and human connections at its core will shine through in this situation!