IDEAS ALLIANCE Community Conversations: The Impact of COVID-19

Like communities all over the country, the residents of Fitton Hill, Salford and Stockbridge Village have been hit hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns. Lockdown has been a negative and difficult experience for many people and the isolation and lack of social contact has impacted upon their wellbeing. However, the stories also reveal how people have adapted their ways of working and socialising, and continued to support one another throughout the crisis. Indeed, many of the residents tell us that they believe the pandemic has brought them closer to their neighbours. COVID also impacted on people’s health and wellbeing in other ways, by restricting their access to exercise and the outdoors, and sometimes by suffering from the effects of the disease itself.

Living through a pandemic has been difficult for everybody, and the major impacts on freedom, socialising and work have affected everyone, but they haven’t affected everyone equally. Some people without access to green space and exercise facilities have struggled to maintain their physical and mental health. A lack of groups and ways to connect socially has left many people feeling isolated, bored and desperate for connection. However, the pandemic has for some people had positive impacts in that it has brought them closer to their immediate neighbours, allowing them to forge new social relationships and mutual support networks. It has also created an atmosphere in which volunteering in the community has flourished. The challenge will now be to ensure that the community values and friendships that were created amongst hardship can be supported to continue as part of the recovery and reopening as the vaccine programme allows society to open up once again.

Want to explore more? Then listen to some story extracts that have informed this insight briefing by clicking on the links below:
Impact of COVID-19 Story Extract 1
Impact of COVID-19 Story Extract 2
Green Spaces Story Extract

IDEAS ALLIANCE Community Conversations: Life in Fitton Hill

Residents, community workers and For Housing staff shared their experiences of living and working in Fitton Hill, and overall gave a positive impression of the area. People particularly praised the friendliness of their neighbours and said that the green spaces and landscaping of the area enhanced their wellbeing. Community organisations like the Reel and the Salvation Army bring people together to support one another. Some problems were highlighted, particularly issues with crime, disorder and vandalism to the local park.

Overall, residents’ stories about life in Fitton Hill were positive. The friendly community and green spaces enhances residents’ wellbeing. People feel well-supported by community organisations in the area and get involved with them. Having housing that meets their needs and access to a private garden supports residents to keep themselves safe, comfortable and well. Residents are happy living here, though crime and vandalism are concerns that have a negative impact on how safe and enjoyable people find the area.

Want to explore more? Then listen to some story extracts that have informed this insight briefing by clicking on the links below:
Life in Fitton Hill Story Extract 1
Life in Fitton Hill Story Extract 2
Life in Fitton Hill Story Extract 3

IDEAS ALLIANCE Community Conversations: Life in Salford

Stories from the Salford area came from a larger and more dispersed geographical area and as such there was a greater diversity of opinion and experiences compared to the other two areas in the project. Tenants in Salford have a less unified experience, and the stories reflect this. There are, however, clear themes of factors that contribute positively to residents wellbeing, such as green spaces, community organisations and groups, and friendships among neighbours. There are also stories which highlight things that can hamper residents’ ability to stay well physically and mentally, including unsuitable housing, environmental problems and social tensions.

Salford is a large and diverse area and the stories told reflect the breadth and richness of residents’ experience of the area. Living in accommodation suitable for their needs support people’s wellbeing, as does access to green spaces, of which Salford has many. There is a huge and varied range of community activities and organisations thriving in Salford, many of which are spearheaded by local residents themselves to great success. Problems with unsuitable accommodation, lack of gardens, fear of crime and problems with littering and dog mess are affecting the wellbeing of some residents.

Want to explore more? Then listen to some story extracts that have informed this insight briefing
by clicking on the links below:
Life in Salford Story Extract 1
Life in Salford Story Extract 2
Life in Salford Story Extract 3
Life in Salford Story Extract 4

IDEAS ALLIANCE Community Conversations: Technology and Communication

The theme of technology and communication ran through many of the wellbeing stories that were gathered by our Community Reporters. People described how digital tools were enabling them to stay connected with loved ones, make new connections with neighbours and switch to new ways of
working, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdowns. However, they also told us that constantly using these tools – for work and socialising – can be draining. The stories also express concerns about who is included and excluded from digital methods of communication. Many of the stories we collected from Stockbridge Village discuss the quarterly gazette as an important tool for communicating with the community, so this report examines what the stories tell us about how For Housing might communicate with and within the areas that it covers.

We now have more ways than ever to communicate with each other digitally, but residents in the three For Housing areas are still missing more “old-fashioned” methods of face-to-face meeting and printed media. While the coronavirus vaccine gives hope for a return to more “normal” methods of communication and community interaction in the near future, communities have adapted by adopting new digital tools to communicate, such as WhatsApp, Zoom and Facebook groups. These tools are celebrated for their informality, friendliness and for bringing people together to support wellbeing and connection during an era of physical distancing. However, they do not include everyone, and residents worry about who is being left out of the conversation and socially isolated. Similarly, the overuse of screens can lead to problems with physical and mental health. While there is clearly great scope and potential for the use of these tools in future interactions and communications strategies, this must also be balanced by considering the implications of who is not being reached, and how we make sure that we hear from them too.

Want to explore more? Then listen to a story extract that has informed this insight briefing here.

Institute of Community Reporters 4th Meet Up

Every year PVM have 2 meet ups with the Community Reporters. This is a chance for PVM to update the Community Reporters with news, opportunities, and developments and to find out what they have been up to and to get feedback from them. 

In September we had our second meeting of the year. The meet up took place online and we update the attendees of the work we have been doing developing our anti-racist commitments and the actions that we are taking to ensure that they are part of PVM’s everyday work, so they won’t be just words without substance.

Actions that we have taken so far –

  • using anti-racism as examples in our Responsible Practice training
  • increased the diversity of our board members
  • increased the visual representation on our website and in the visual content that we gather, use and share.

As well as updating the Community Reporters it’s also a chance to gain feedback. This was positive and powerful with people saying how important it is to have a place of support and solidarity for people to come together to discuss, offload, and support each other. This brought about the idea of creating a regular support group. It was just the beginning of an idea, but we shall be exploring it further.

We also talked about the feedback, reflections and actions from the ICR conference that took place in the spring and discussed how we can take these ideas forward to shape next years conference.

The next online meet up for the ICR will be Thursday 24th of March 2022 from 12:00 – 1:00pm.

Kath Peters – PVM Project Manager