Locally Rooted – The place of community organising in times of crisis
It is widely acknowledged that neighbours have played an essential role in supporting their local communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Often this support has bubbled up spontaneously from below.
The pressures on poorer communities are likely to increase as the country goes into recession. And there is a danger that the community energies and relationships formed during the lockdown will dissipate as people go back to work or struggle to survive. Organisers expect mental health to be a major issue.
Coming out of lockdown
But there are opportunities too. The number of people involved in organising has increased significantly and communities are better connected, perhaps more willing to share their concerns. New relationships have been forged at an organisational level and the reputation of organising has been enhanced in many areas. People at community and organisational level are asking for training in community organising to help them better connect with their local communities. Organisers are planning new listening campaigns to find out about the longer-term impact of the pandemic, facilitating the difficult conversations needed to address ongoing sources of community tension and working with other local organisations to learn the lessons of the crisis response. Many see an opportunity – even the necessity – for community organising to channel the pent-up frustrations and anger of lockdown and beyond into positive directions.