Lewis response to Covid-19 showcased in new report

Lisa Maclean, Chief Executive of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust).

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The experience of the Isle of Lewis during the Covid-19 pandemic has been outlined in a new report by the Carnegie Trust as part of a project to explore how communities and public services across the UK responded to the crisis.

Over six months of the pandemic, the trust had more than 80 conversations with people from 16 communities throughout the UK focusing on how organisations and communities were adapting to meet the changing needs of the people around them and the evolving relationships between the public sector, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector, and communities.

Lisa Maclean, chief executive of Urras Oighreachd Ghabhsainn (Galson Estate Trust)
said: ‘We were pleased to take part in this very meaningful work, which has resulted in a very detailed report that captures the responses of communities across the UK.

‘It’s clear that innovative ideas, collaborative working and a strong sense of community, all underpinned with kindness, unlocks great potential within communities at a grass roots level and helps to ensure no one is left behind.

‘As a community land trust we are focused on the socio-economic wellbeing of the community and the coordinated response to Covid-19 was natural, but also something we felt privileged to do for the community we serve.’

The report analyses the needs of communities such as Lewis, including support
with food, decreasing household income, mental health, and digital access; the impact of the pandemic on places; the community responses; and the role of volunteers and the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.

It also looks to the future, to new waves of the virus and future emergencies, and outlines the hopes and opportunities for future ways of working and how communities can be further empowered to respond.

The trust found:

● At the onset of the pandemic, it was communities who first stepped up to offer the
vulnerable and isolated essential support.
● Communities were flexible in the support they offered, to a wide range of people and
their individual needs.
● Working in partnership, the local council and community were able to meet people’s
needs more effectively than offering stand-alone support.
● The response to the emergency showed the need for more local support and
services, including staff skilled to support communities, flexible sources of funding,
and recognising the value of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
● Local authorities should learn from both the needs of communities and responses
unveiled during the pandemic.

Launching the report, Sarah Davidson, chief executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, said: ‘The experience of the Isle of Lewis during the Covid-19 pandemic became clear through our conversations, and we heard how those in need were treated with kindness and dignity by their communities.

‘We hope that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and its partners will learn from this work about the needs of those who were vulnerable and isolated, as well as the flexible ways in which these needs were met, as we face the winter months ahead and future stages of the pandemic.’