COVID-19 has challenged us all in so many different ways. We’ve made new alliances, tested established partnerships and put real commitment into supporting the communities and people we care so much about.
From zero to 100mph is high octane stuff and the food delivery programme was a task-intensive pressurised programme at every stage in the process – whether it was delivering the food to someone’s door or checking the accuracy and eligibility of the actual referral. It’s fantastic that we have been able to draw breathe and honestly reflect back on our learning.
While this was a national fund and there was a referral route established, it was developed on the back of significant local knowledge. The immediate learning is the need to streamline the referral process with clear and co-ordinated communication across statutory partners (and departments) and our voluntary and third sector partners. There were many nail-biting days when the sustainability of the programme was in doubt as we waited for information about funding – never a good scenario when colleagues knew the need within and felt the dependence from the community on this humanitarian programme.
In and of itself reflecting on learning is always worth the effort, however as everyone is aware in the world we live in its vital as there might be the need to re-establish the programme. There is agreement that we need to produce a Memorandum of Understanding with City of Edinburgh Council which clarifies our expectations of each other and how we will work together. This programme is only possible when we work together and everyone has limited time so we will develop a provisional structure which can be deployed quickly and effectively. It’s not possible to mitigate against all possibilities but by focusing on the core need of community resilience it will be possible to provide a flexible response. Most importantly any re-established programme has to be delivered with dignity and integrity; it has to be sustainable, provide choice for people as well as value for money.
Finally, I want to reflect on the importance of listening to people. This report reflects the shared experience of voluntary and statutory partners delivering a city-wide programme. It was only possible to sustain this programme beyond the immediate crisis because we were able to bring together strategic coordination, national funding and local knowledge. Local knowledge comes from working with people in communities. Mind the Craic provided a clear challenge to all of us to work with, listen to and acknowledge the skills and expertise of people and without that ethos at the heart of all our partners this programme wouldn’t have been possible and this report would not have provided the rich learning that takes our thinking and planning beyond a crisis response.