Days after the 1 year mark of lockdown, we can be sure that the community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises across Edinburgh have been at the heart of the response to COVID-19 in 2020/21. In the City and across Scotland, you have been active in your communities, keeping people’s physical and mental well-being in tact, so much so, you and I know, it has saved lives and the evidence is there in many reports now being produced.
In coming in to EVOC, I have deliberately wanted to take a listening approach to understand better the state of the sector now, and to capture what we and others learn can for the future. The things that have been important in this crisis have also got incredible value for early intervention and future challenges, whether that be other pandemics or the consequences of climate change.
As part of that, we want to launch a listening exercise on what it means to have a thriving local community and voluntary sector in the city: what are the conditions for communities to be resilient and more than that to thrive? What are the conditions for individual citizens to thrive, and be resilient, from the older person to the young, the person from our BAME families or a person with a disability, a carer or a long-term condition?
EVOC had the opportunity to take a paper to the Edinburgh Partnership and also the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board this week. There is excellent work going on at City Council level (New Business Plan) and EIJB work on the Edinburgh Pact which will help bring a great focus and opportunities for communities and individuals. There is in both a discussion of community anchors – both organisations and networks – and we need to work in a way that means there is no wrong door.
As part of EVOC’s advocacy and leadership role, being committed to doing the right thing rather than the easy thing, it is important to invert the pyramid and for major anchor institutions like NHS, Council, Universities to be at the service of Edinburgh’s communities. We also hope to do more with our partners, Volunteer Edinburgh and Edinburgh Enterprise Network, and others, whose folk have like you, been at the heart of this… for decades.
In April we will launch a number of initiatives, on-line and off-line, to start a conversation about this and hear from you on what does it mean for our sector to thrive? Above all, what does it mean for the citizens of this city to thrive?
In the meantime my door, and those of the EVOC team, are open to start that conversation.