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Over the months ahead, we’ll be using this dedicated Transform Communities page to host a discussion about the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on the various communities that we all belong to – a discussion focused on how notions of community have been questioned, re-assessed, strengthened and found wanting in recent months, and on how we might use this experience to build a different future.
We want to hear your views on how ideas and strategies developed during the lockdown are likely to become embedded in our day-to-day societal values and practice after the virus has passed. We want to understand how notions of ‘community’ and ‘society’ differ in different settings: rural, urban, suburban, advantaged or disadvantaged, on or off-line, and what we might learn from each other in this respect. At one level, with the Prime Minister amongst its victims, COVID-19 has been a great leveller; at another, it has had a far greater impact on some communities than others: the elderly, the socio-economically disadvantaged, communities of colour, those on the (newly redefined) ‘key worker’ frontline.
The question that we pose is simple, but the answers complex and multiple: How might the experience of Covid-19 and the associated lockdown drive change in the various on and off-line communities that we belong to? We might find ourselves in these communities by choice, locality or birth. These might be communities of residence or neighbourhood, communities of interest or professionalism, communities of ethnicity or faith, communities of age or social class, communities of gender or sexual identity. Critically, we want the discussion hosted here to explore how we might, as stakeholders in these multiple communities, enlist the support of peers, community leaders and policymakers in driving and reshaping change.
To this end, please give us your feedback on the pieces that are posted, and contact us if you’d like to join the debate by offering a post yourself. We’re happy to re-post blogs first published elsewhere, provided that we have permission to do so. In particular, we’re keen to capture voices from a variety of sources, especially from those embedded in those communities most often ignored in policy debates.
For those of you with a particular interest in education, we’ve already launched a similar page at TransformEducation.org.uk. We have also launched TransformOrganisations.org.uk in which we explore the actual and likely impact of Covid-19 on various aspects of organisational behaviour.
In the weeks ahead, watch out for the launch of a series of related pages exploring how the lessons of lockdown might inform and transform practice in other areas of public life, including politics, health and social care, and leisure. There are few positives to draw from the kind of pandemic that we are currently experiencing but maybe, just maybe, harnessing the lessons from lockdown for our communities is one such positive, and an opportunity that we have a responsibility to grasp.
In this Transform Communities launch blog, social entrepreneur Michelle Lawrence - founding Director at Link Up UK, and co-founder of the Cohesion and Integration Network, Belong - explores the importance of 'impetus' in creating the conditions in which community divisions can be overcome. Having worked in the field of cohesion for many years, Michelle has witnessed the role that impetus can play in challenging ideas about the 'other' and asks whether the Covid-19 pandemic has provided an impetus around which we can all unite.