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Community action vital to stopping the spread of Covid-19

23 October 2020

The British Psychological Society has published new guidance designed to empower communities in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The guidance is designed to help with slowing the spread of the virus, mitigating against the negative psychological effects of lockdown measures, and ultimately enabling recovery.

It has been produced by the BPS’s Covid-19 Community Action and Resilience Working Group and is designed to assist local authorities, local resilience forums, heads of services and community groups by drawing on psychological insights that help build the collective response.

Professor John Drury (University of Sussex), who was a lead author on the guidance, said:

“This new guidance brings together key principles from the evidence from community responses to different emergencies and threats, showing what works based on communities’ psychosocial strengths and capacities.

Research shows that it is members of the public, not the professionals, who provide most of the support when disaster strikes.

We hope the guidance will be useful for communities themselves as well as those who work with them.”

The guidance incorporates the concept of community resilience, which refers to the ability of communities to participate in the reaction to and recovery from times of crisis.

The guidance makes six recommendations to facilitate community resilience:

  1. Ensure it is possible to form community groups – these could be held online and can include local authorities and officials, but should be led by community members
  2. Listen to and learn from at-risk communities – listening enables understanding of areas where social support is needed
  3. Build collective identity between communities and local authorities – inclusive practices and involving the public builds trust in local authorities
  4. Accommodate community attempts to help – community participation is not only necessary, it can enhance wellbeing among those involved
  5. Keep the emergent community alive – communities that emerge at times of crisis often run out energy and resources
  6. Resource the community – this is a fundamental requirement underpinning all of these recommendations

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