Neighbourhoods & communities matters most in response to Pandemic

(I am sharing the email exchange I had with Alison and Ian Campbell on how they have facilitated their local neighbourhood in the UK to respond to Covid. .Alison and Ian have facilitated community  strengths based responses to critical health issues over the past 30 years, inclusive of local faith expression. They coordinate Affirm Facilitation Associates and collaborate with the Constellation for Community Life Competence.)

Background What we know about the virus is that the mortality of Covid 19 infection is 10 times that of seasonal flu, and it is much more infectious.What we have learned from HIV and Ebola experience particularly, with many thousands of people globally,  is that in the upswing of confusion and concern, neighbourhood matters most, everyone needs a conversation, neighbourhood champions for caring connection are always there, and spiritual sensitivity and support is necessary.

We have applied these underpinnings with a local neighbourhood response to Covid 19  in Woking, south west of London in UK. The longer video from which this clip is extracted was prepared with Salvation Army seminary students in USA in mind to support their response. However the application is relevant globally with people of any faith and no faith, based in the recognition that local trust based relationship is the core foundation for a coherent immediate and effective national response.

Planning by the community-The Lakeview Neighbourhood Connectors formed as a result if the meeting. There were seven Connectors, representing 5 apartment blocks out of 43 on the housing estate. Each has contacted near neighbours and is expecting to find and motivate at least one other Neighbourhood Connector in a different apartment block within a week. To know details watch this video

Email response received from Ian and Alison  on 1st April on community led actions

A small swap table for basic food items has been placed by two of them outside their block and trade is brisk. A second swap table is taking shape. The family of two of the Connectors became unwell due to Covid 19 during the first week. They could not engage except by WhatsApp and their experience has helped a lot of people on the estate. 

Results continue from the little group of neighbourhood connectors.  (They are meant to contact near neighbours, chat, care, connect to anything that might be needed, and continue by passing on the idea so that other people might join in.)
  • The family that has been sick with COVID-19 put their story into the group social media about how they coped, and encouraged the others. 
  • A new neighbourhood connector joined yesterday. She went this morning to tidy the swap table, and to deliver food to a neighbour that she heard about from another member of the group who is now self-isolating. 
  • The small local shop has closed - connectors are checking neighbours to see who needs help with phone time or utility bill payment (people with low or irregular income do this in installments through a local shop) - to go to the nearest shop in the next neighbourhood.
  • Mental health is a challenge for some of our community - some cannot easily tolerate staying at home.  One such person goes every day to sit at a safe distance from the swap table, and is coping better because other people pass by and say hello. Another person is not able to cope with social media but keeps in touch one-to-one with Ian and two others by text message and is able to help neighbours. These are good strategies.
  • Prescriptions are being picked up from pharmacy and delivered for those who cannot go out. .  
  • We call someone in the group every day just to check in and encourage. So we all adapt as this experience unfolds. 

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Comment by Pawan Dhall on April 22, 2020 at 4:47pm

Dear Friends

I would like to share a link here that documents responses to the pandemic by LGBT people and their allies in India. The documentation is in the form of a series of podcasts tied into one evolving story. While the responses on the ground are individual or group initiatives, the documentation itself is also a response - in the sense that LGBT individuals are being trained as citizen journalists to talk about their own work or that of others and send in the reports as podcasts to "Varta", a monthly webzine on gender and sexuality that I edit. So the idea is to not just document but also build skills and motivate people already responding to the crisis or those intending to. Your feedback will motivate me and our team of reporters: 

Regards and best wishes

Pawan Dhall   


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