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New BPS Community Action and Resilience group launched

25 September 2020

Understanding the role of psychology in supporting the incredible way communities responded to the effects of Covid-19 is the aim of the newly launched British Psychological Society’s Community Action and Resilience working group (CAR).

Carl Harris, a clinical & community psychologist and CAR co-chair said:

“Covid-19 has affected everyone around the world in some way. But these impacts are not evenly shared within society.

The pandemic has had the greatest negative impact on those groups who face structural disadvantage and discrimination.

For example, communities of colour, people on low incomes, disabled and deaf communities, and those who experience intersecting inequalities.”

In its new statement ‘The importance of community action and community resilience in the response to Covid-19: What role for psychology?’ CAR outlines how psychologists will look at the ways communities and groups, especially marginalised communities, responded to the pandemic and explore how psychological practice can adapt to usefully work in partnership with them to support community building and future community resilience.  

Sanah Ahsan, liberation & community psychologist and CAR member,said:

“The pandemic has demolished the myth of a post-racial Britain. The disproportionate deaths of people of colour evidence the tragic societal devaluation of black and brown bodies.

As psychologists, we must interrogate the ways we have been complicit in harming communities we work in and may be a part of. 

We hope the CAR group can begin to make some attempt at modelling processes of accountability.

Additionally, we hope the group can begin contributing to working with the abundance of strength existing within communities to begin processes of reparation and healing from this pandemic.

The group is currently:

  • Using approaches that involve representative community groups 
  • Collecting stories to demonstrate the power and strength that people within communities, have in coming together to help others
  • Showcasing evidence and examples of how psychologists can work to address community level factors in responding to the pandemic
  • Collating a range of resources for psychologists and others to use to build community resilience and to work in partnership with community groups and organisations

Sally Zlotowitz, community & clinical psychologist and CAR co-chair, said:

“We hope that psychologists (and people with other roles) will find these ideas helpful as well as using our professional power to encourage others to recognise the importance of the role of communities in responding to Covid-19 in the longer term.

Our lessons from the pandemic will help us to develop better psychological practices for the future especially in the wider context of growing inequalities and the climate change emergency.”

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