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Community Action and Resilience

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.

Community Psychology Practice

What can psychologists be doing now?

There is widespread agreement on the need for community engagement to improve health outcomes.

In addition, national health policy emphasises the importance of co-production and prevention in healthcare, as well as the importance of reducing stigma and discrimination and equitable access to services.

Find out more about the importance of community in an NHS crisis response.

This guidance for practitioner psychologists aims to provide some ideas about how to work well with community organisations, community representatives and diverse partners but in a non-prescriptive way.

Summary of actions which psychologists can take in their teams and services now:

  1. Solidarity and partnership building with local community organisations or grassroots groups - reaching out to them and offering mutual support with humility - they are the leaders   

  2. Community mapping - who/which groups and orgs are in your local area, what are they asking for and what do groups need, what resources do they have?

  3. Power mapping - who has what power locally and what can we do to influence them and the systems they are part of? How to work with individuals whilst mapping power - David Smail

  4. Service mapping - what is still going? What’s being closed down? Who might this affect?

  5. Thinking creatively about ways to transfer resources to those who need it most, including local community organisations - eg supporting with fundraising, crowdfunding or offering other forms of resources etc 

  6. Supporting people to access resources and advocating for them where needed eg https://www.turn2us.org.uk/

  7. Psychosocial accompaniment as psychological practice - ‘bearing witness’ being alongside as people experience this pandemic, not trying to change them, but bearing witness to their experiences of injustice etc

  8. Lobbying local government to ensure the needs of marginalised groups are understood eg new police powers, mental health Act changes, social care changes - write emails to local councillors, attend (virtual) council meetings if they are happening

  9. Connecting to your team/service/organisational leaders and asking questions about how they are considering the needs of the most marginalised groups - send them relevant reports from the lists above but also offer solutions and offer support to them to take action

  10. Connecting people together - who can you connect and how?

  11. Writing briefing papers for policy-makers about your area of work - by drawing on an ecological systems framework you may be able to draw attention to ideas and areas that policy-makers are not thinking about - important to analyse how the current context is affecting different groups - again offer solutions and support

  12. Developing partnerships with other relevant organisations and seeing if it's possible to address some of the social issues through joint campaigns/supporting local community action

  13. Draw on racial injustice briefing papers to hold leaders to account (team/service/organisation/local authority/national government leaders) around how Covid-19 may exacerbate injustice and inequalities - ask questions by email, write blogs, use social media, start working groups, create a collective, join campaigns, ask your organisation to join campaigns, write guidance/procedures/policies that try to mitigate for injustice. Again offer solutions and support to take action.

  14. If clinical or counselling - use the ecological framework model in clinical formulation - how are the social and economic structures and unequal power affecting people’s psychological experience - see this practice example with excluded young people

  15. How can you draw on the Just Recovery principles in your work/approach? Set up a working group with colleagues to discuss?

Harder to do remotely but may be possible:

  1. Who has access to helping others as well as being helped? Starting small scale ‘peer support’ or mutual aid projects within your service - who can support who at this time? 

  2. Starting small scale ‘prevention’ and coproduction projects - what are some of the key determinants that are affecting a marginalised group - how could you take action with that group to try and change those determinants?

  3. Starting small scale online ‘creative’ projects  - how can you amplify people’s  creativity and can their creativity be harnessed to express to/communicate with others as is needed for most marginalised groups

  4. Carry out small scale participatory action research on the impact of Covid-19 with a particular group - how you can use this to lift the voices of those who’s experiences are unheard - look into organisatins like ‘On Our Radar’ and their toolkits

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