‘Now They See Us’. This is the title of the Third Sector Research Centre report for Local Trust that explores the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on communities. And the title certainly describes how many communities have been feeling over the course of 2020 and 2021.
Local communities and community organisations have been crucial in the response to the pandemic. Not only did community groups spring into action very quickly, they also relentlessly continue providing support to local residents despite the prolonged nature of the pandemic. It has now been over 18 months and the pandemic has tested all our spirits. We would like to express thanks and gratitude to those who provided and continue to provide support to their communities. We know how crucial your contributions have been.
After the shock of 2020, we settled into the new realities of living during a pandemic. We have welcomed several new colleagues into the team, which was welcome news after the uncertainty of the last year. We were very happy to be able to return to the office part-time as of June this year. Although, like many of you, we pride ourselves on working remotely very well (and continue to do so), being back in the office as one team and being able to interact face to face has really highlighted that human contact is essential when building relationships and settling new colleagues into their roles. We have found it invaluable and, although we continue to work from home part-time, the team has been enjoying their days together in the office.
As well as the team being able to come together in person, we had the opportunity to meet with some of our clients and deliver some of our community engagement work and training face to face. After a year of everyone being in a small Zoom box (!), this has been a welcome change. Delivering training workshops for researchers for the Somers Town Big Local project in person was a hugely rewarding aspect of community engagement and development, as has delivering training to the fantastic resident-led panel for the Grenfell Projects Fund. The resident-led panel will manage the Grenfell Projects Fund that is funding to support recovery and wellbeing across North Kensington.
We continue to develop community-engagement approaches and uphold best practice for projects and organisations we are affiliated with. Connecting stakeholders with organisations where we think a real difference to communities can be made is an aspect of our practice that will remain integral to WSA moving forward.
We also continue to deliver and promote our Community Development courses, which we deliver to both the public and as bespoke training sessions for organisations. As a small organisation, we do face challenges around promotion and reaching our target audience, however we are learning from the experience and continue to move forward, reaching more and more people. We are immensely proud of our CPD-accredited courses, which we can deliver either in person or online. They are highly participatory and encourage participants to share knowledge and experience, and learn from each other as well as from the trainers.
We would like to thank all the community groups, organisations and everyone we’ve worked with, pulling together resources, working collectively and sharing initiatives with one another. We aim to continue supporting people-led efforts to tackle issues in their area in 2022.
Thank you for your support in 2021 and have a happy and successful 2022.
Previous annual reports
Find out more about the projects we have worked on, the partners who have collaborated with us and the clients with whom we’ve worked to deliver benefit to communities in past years.