At the beginning of this month, in Building Trust, Confidence and Collective Action in the Age of COVID-19, we discussed the incredible potential of local communities as part of a wider plan to harness the “Larger Us”.
That initial call for collective action has taken on new life during our Local Week series. Throughout the week, we’ve shared insights from leading thinkers on public health, policy, community empowerment, local politics, urban planning, and more, each exploring the effects of the unfolding coronavirus pandemic at a local level – you’ll find them all below.
Much coverage of the ongoing global crisis has focused on what has already been done wrong, ineffectively, or too late. In The Next Wave: COVID-19’s Hunger Crisis, Rahul Chandran and David Steven make a plea for looking away from the rear-view mirror and instead making every effort to get ahead of the next wave before it, too, becomes a crisis.
Identifying the threat of widespread hunger as the next great impact of COVID-19, Rahul and David share actions for governments, big civil society, the food industry, and communities themselves to ensure that food continues to make it the last mile to where it’s needed.
“As we begin to look forward to the world that emerges out of this crisis, there are three types of changes to consider. Each will need to be approached in a different way, using different tools and techniques.” So writes Elle Dodd in Typologies of Change, as she outlines the novel, evolving, and visionary changes we’re already witnessing as the pandemic unfolds, and what we can expect to see after the initial crisis has passed.
She asks: what is new that we want to keep hold of in the post-pandemic world? What has changed that we’re not yet happy with, the things that we once didn’t think possible but now understand to be malleable? And what are the things we now know we want to do differently, but aren’t yet able to?
In Learning from the Lockdown to Build Back Better, Clare Wilks uses her hometown of Bristol, UK, as a case study for how our future towns and cities could better serve those who call them home.
Having witnessed both the positive effects of lockdown on her local area – a growing sense of community, the adaptiveness of local businesses, the reclaiming of street space by pedestrians – and the negatives – unequal access to green open spaces, overstretched food banks – Clare explores how the way we eat, move, and socialise now could provide a template for the future planning of less congested, more accessible, and more equal urban spaces.
In the weeks since our article for World Politics Review, we’ve seen community groups all over the UK harnessing the power of collective action, organising, collaborating, and acting rapidly to ensure ongoing support for the most vulnerable at a local level.
In Respond and Renew: The Work of Local Trust, Jessica Wenban-Smith, Head of Communications for Local Trust, reports on the Trust’s Big Local areas and what we can learn from them, both those that have been able to step up and adapt and those that need more support to weather the COVID-19 crisis.
In Dying on the Home Front, Professor David Bloom and David Steven discuss the hidden home deaths that have already begun to occur as the pandemic unfolds, and how these undercounted and often misreported fatalities could be skewing what we think we know about coronavirus.
As we face the ongoing challenge of fully understanding where COVID-19 kills and why, David and David explore the many reasons that people are dying outside hospitals – whether in their own homes or residential care facilities – and call for a serious attempt to better understand and prevent home deaths.
For Cambridge city councillors Alex Collis and Anna Smith, poverty alleviation is an ongoing challenge, frustrating to navigate in the most ordinary of times, but exacerbated further by the coronavirus outbreak.
In After the Virus: Ensuring No Community and No-One is Left Behind, they contrast the swiftness of community action in response to the outbreak with ineffectual national schemes aimed at tackling food poverty, highlight the need for structural change, and explore a new strategy for continuing to support those who have been in need, are currently in need, and will continue to be in need after the initial crisis has passed.