A week may be a long time in politics, as the saying goes, but a week during a global pandemic is even longer.
Like many, I’ve found the pace of change, and the pace of work that accompanied it, difficult to keep up with. As a sector we have done a phenomenal job to respond at speed, but I for one am thankful that we are starting to have a little more time now to draw breath and reflect.
One of my roles during the last few weeks has been to monitor the intelligence coming into SCVO about the impact of the pandemic on our members and the wider voluntary sector. These insights have been invaluable in shaping our response and we are grateful to everyone who has been in touch.
The feedback has been informal – emails, enquiries to our information service, and answers to four very open questions that we posted on our website – so not representative or statistically significant, but certainly valuable and hopefully of interest.
For the first few weeks, the overriding feelings were of confusion (about where to get information) and anxiety (about funding, about staffing, and about how best to continue to provide services and support). In SCVO’s role coordinating the Coronavirus Third Sector Information Hub, those anxieties and uncertainties helped shape the information and guidance we shared with the sector.
As time went on, queries started to become more specific: how to use digital tools to connect staff and to redesign supports; how to access funding to survive, or respond to support that is needed in their communities; how to understand the many implications of remote working; how to navigate government guidance; how to access furlough support. Again, these shaped the content we put on the Information Hub. And importantly, they also helped us in our discussions with Scottish Government and a range of funding partners about the development of the Resilience Fund, the Wellbeing Fund, and the coordination of other funding streams.
In the last week or so, the tone of the feedback has noticeably started to change, as organisations appear to move out of immediate crisis and start to consider what happens next. The organisations who have been in touch with us are thinking about the practicalities of an eventual move out of lockdown and beyond. They are also thinking about others: about shielding groups whose lockdown will last even longer; about the people whose mental health is being impacted by social isolation; about the inequalities being exacerbated by the pandemic and the economic downturn. They are asking what they can do to ensure they are in a position to help, and also what we as a society can do to use the necessity to rebuild as an opportunity to reform.
At SCVO, this is helping us develop our own thinking about what next: how to develop the Information Hub further; how to provide spaces for people to share experiences and learn from others; how to bring people together to think about the future and how to influence the people we need to help us shape that.
Your experiences are critical in helping us make the right choices, so please keep telling us how coronavirus is affecting you and your organisation. You can:
- Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Fill in this short form on our website
- Share your stories as part of the #NeverMoreNeeded campaign
My research colleagues have also been gathering more formal research from across the sector to add to the Third Sector Evidence Library, and we’ll be publishing a short summary of that evidence in the coming weeks. If you have survey information to share please send it to email@example.com.
A week may be a long time in a pandemic, but we’re in this for the long haul, and we’ll all need each others’ help to get through it.