How communities can recover from COVID-19

Alliance MBS has secured funding to support research into the long-term recovery of local communities from the damage caused by the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges to communities across the world. Many are rightly focused on how we come out of the other side, and how organisations can work together to drive long-term recovery in what is a very complex political landscape.

A specific project that I am heading is looking at precisely these challenges. Partfunded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, it brings together specialists from Alliance MBS, the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI), and The University of Manchester to develop guidance and create a framework that can be used to build resilience in local communities post Covid-19.

A team of academics will analyse how stakeholders such as local government, the emergency services and volunteer groups have responded to Covid 19 in the UK and overseas, before identifying the changes that need to be made to better support short-term recovery and drive long-term renewal within local communities.

Using this information, academics will then partner with Local Resilience Forums – groups of representatives from local authorities and the wider public sector – in Merseyside, the Thames Valley and Essex to develop and test a resilience framework.

Framework

We will also be working closely with regional stakeholders to share lessons of successful recovery, and use these learnings to develop an actionable framework that can be used to drive resilience at a local level in a world post-Covid.

The framework will specifically be designed to enable local communities to better plan, prepare and respond to emergencies like the pandemic. For example, by emergency services collaborating to meet new demands or utilising the support of individuals that want to help but aren’t affiliated to an official public body – commonly known as spontaneous volunteers – in the disaster response phase.

Incidentally I have actually been researching the need for a UK policy towards spontaneous volunteers ever since 2013, originally following a number of flooding incidents in the UK. Along with colleagues I subsequently developed an international standard, ISO22319, which has not only been used by local authorities across the UK but has now been adopted by local authorities all over the world, especially in regions such as South America which are particularly susceptible to natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires.

The standard has been instrumental in changing management practices in local governments which have used it to directly shape national government policy.

Recovery from Covid-19

The recent funding announcement from the ESRC actually follows a 10-month project during which I and colleagues have been working with organisations worldwide to ensure local communities can recover from Covid-19.

This includes specialists in the areas of critical systems, emergency response, community resilience, humanitarian aid and mobilisation, digital solutions and security, viable systems, healthcare delivery and operations management. In particular we produced a guide outlining the key issues for recovery from the pandemic, which summarised and supplemented existing guidance on recovery from disasters and pandemics in the unique context of Covid-19.

The guide defines exactly what recovery means in the context of the pandemic, and why its nature is different. It also looks at the key groups which should be involved in a recovery, and the associated challenges. The guide concludes by outlining what actions should be considered in both the short- and long-term.

All year we have also been producing The Manchester Briefing which contains international lessons on response and recovery, and we have been truly heartened by the fantastic feedback and response we have continued to receive.

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