The CAR workstream considers the ways in which psychology can inform, support and amplify community level responses to Covid-19 and our recovery from the pandemic.
Our primary aim is to recognise the important role that communities, community groups and community organisations have played in looking after each other and our essential workers, whether through mutual aid groups, holding local and national government to account, or advocating for marginalised groups, and in doing so speak up for the importance of strengthening communities and inclusive participation processes as we try to #buildbackbetter after this pandemic.
There are a number of different approaches to 'resilience', some focusing on qualities of the individual, some on the links between groups and agencies on the ground and some on the nature of the risks and adversities being faced.
There is also psychological research and practice relating to community resilience in the context of emergencies.
However, for the purposes of the CAR workstream, we centre the following definition in order to emphasise the social justice and inequalities orientation (as per the work of Professor Angie Hart and colleagues) :
"Overcoming adversity, whilst also potentially changing, or even dramatically transforming, (aspects of) that adversity"
Community resilience might refer to any one or combination of geographical communities, such as neighbourhoods, streets, towns and villages; communities of identity, such as faith groups and LGBTQIA+ communities; communities brought together through life circumstance, such as young people, people with dementia and their carers; or communities of interest, such as artists and sports teams.
Whilst the pandemic has brought to the fore ways in which community action has contributed to resilience, we must not lose sight of the fact that many communities have long faced and struggled to overcome adversity.
In particular, we recognise the ways in which structural oppression threatens this resilience and government policies exacerbate, rather than relieve, adversity.
Highlighting the nature of these forms of resistance are well within the remit of a psychological approach to the response to the pandemic.
The scale of the psychological impact of the pandemic and its uneven social distribution requires us to think beyond the individual to the interconnections between the family, the community, public services, the workplace, the state and its policies – and beyond to the international sphere.
We need to draw on psychological theories and practices that draw on whole systems and the power structures embedded within them.
Community Action & Resilience Resources in relation to Covid-19
We, the BPS Community Action Resilience (CAR) workstream, have signed the Open Letter: Principles for a Just Recovery from COVID-19 and would encourage others to read, sign and play your part in its implementation.
The Community Action & Resilience hub includes resources that may be relevant for psychologists, students, trainees and others working within or with certain communities, and many will be relevant for multiple communities.
We also recognise the diversity of humanity and intersectionality means that resources may not have relevance for some because of this.