Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland, Community engagement, Concepts, ideas and research

Can ‘place-based’ work continue at a distance?

“How do you work in a place-based way when you can’t be in the place?”

We’ve been pondering this question since March. Our Director put this to the team as the COVID-19 crisis and restrictions began to unfold…

New approaches to place-based working

The last few months have seen life as we all know it change in ways we could never have predicted. 

COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on society as a whole. This impact is particularly stark for children and families – especially those already experiencing poverty and disadvantage. As the coronavirus situation developed, very quickly we saw community organisations in CNS sites change how they deliver their services. Providing support to local children, young people and families, now often occurs from a distance. We have seen these communities respond to the crisis in their own unique ways, driven by what is needed locally. 

Like many others, the work of the CNS team has also seen change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a time of readjustment, with many of the CNS team also balancing working from home with childcare and home-schooling, we quickly came together to reassess how we could support local community-based organisations we work with. We’ve been working to support organisations in CNS sites in different ways. This has included providing resources, and collating and sharing information on what is happening locally to support families.

Responses to COVID-19

Although we can’t operate in our usual hands-on place-based way, we’ve still been working with local people and organisations in their communities. We’ve been able to help capture local responses to this unusual situation. In partnership with our colleagues in Policy Scotland and The Network for Social and Educational Equity, we have been undertaking a new piece of research to explore and understand the impact of COVID-19 on families with children, and how services and organisations are responding to it. We are doing this by looking at the experiences of a variety of services and organisations dealing with COVID-19.  

Our research is being carried out now across a number of sites in Glasgow and beyond The research has gathered the views and insights of those who provide services in communities. This includes leaders from public services and the third sector (e.g. local authority, health, education and community), operational staff who play a key role in coordinating service responses to COVID-19 and frontline staff from public services and community-based organisations who are providing direct support to vulnerable families and children at this time. 

We have published short briefing papers giving overviews of the key findings as they emerge with more of these planned as well as fuller reports on the findings. We’re also working with the organisations in one area to develop a model they can all use to help them understand what families will need, and plan their services and provision accordingly. More on this to come as it develops.

Going forward

Going forward our activity, like so many other organisations, will be shaped and adapted to a hugely different context. The impact of COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue to play a significant role in both the research and delivery work.

So, “how do you work in a place-based way when you can’t be in the place?”  

Answers welcome on a postcard…

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