Community organisations confident about the future after adapting during pandemic
Innovation and resilience of the community sector highlighted by new Locality research
- Despite being hit hard by the pandemic, three quarters (78%) of community organisations surveyed are optimistic about the future, according to new research with Locality members. In comparison, among small businesses only 68% feel confident about the future.
- 95% of Locality members changed how they operate during the pandemic, responding to local needs, diversifying income streams, and repurposing buildings, often supported by flexible funding.
A new report released today by Locality, Navigating the Storm, shows how community organisations kept going through a hugely challenging time. It finds that organisations adapted, innovated and thrived, by:
- Finding new, more efficient, ways to deliver services
- Investing in their buildings during lockdowns to make them more efficient in the long-term
- Providing completely new types of services in response to community needs.
The report, which is based on interviews and surveys from over 120 community organisations, funders and experts, explains how the determination and expertise of community leaders, combined with the substantial emergency support and flexibility of funding bodies and policy-makers, helped organisations make these changes.
It also highlights significant ongoing challenges for community organisations, such as uncertainty over footfall, the cost of living crisis, staff burnout and loss of volunteers. To ensure they can continue to meet the needs of their communities, Locality has set out recommendations for funders and policy-makers, including:
- Funders should provide flexible, unrestricted funding to help build resilience
- Government should put communities in charge of its levelling up funding including its Community Ownership Fund and UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality said: “The last two years have been traumatic and difficult for many people. Amid the loss and uncertainty, we saw people coming together across the country to support their local communities. The role of local community organisations – those set up in the crisis or those already established – was critical in keeping people connected, safe and well, and in channeling this upsurge in community spirit. These locally rooted organisations understand the strengths and strains in their communities – so with the vital support of government and other funders during the pandemic, they were able to make things happen fast. They achieved this amid incredibly challenging circumstances, and we should recognise their commitment and determination to support local people.
Every day at Locality we continue to hear about community organisations adapting services, building relationships and repurposing their assets quickly and effectively to meet local needs. And this report shows there is even more potential sitting at the heart of our communities. If the government is ready to trust these organisations, this potential is ready to be released”.
The full report and guidance notes will be available live here on Wednesday 16 March 2022: https://locality.org.uk/navigating-the-storm
You can download the report here: https://locality.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/LOC-Connect-Fund-Report-2022-MAR-WG05-2.pdf