I’m sure none of us could have predicted how much our lives would change this year. 2020 has been full of huge uncertainties and difficulties for many individuals and communities across the world.
The team here at WSA, like many others, had to readjust to the new realities of living during a global pandemic. As well as having to adapt extremely quickly to working in a wholly digital world, we have also been concerned about the huge impact on the communities we work with, including the huge inequalities the pandemic has further highlighted.
We have worked alongside others to understand the human impact of the rapid changes: this has included being part of the team working with the Third Sector Research Centre on the Local Trust’s Communities in Crisis, as well as doing some specific work around the impact of Covid-19 with the MMHA Everyone’s Business campaign, as part of our ongoing external evaluation. We have also worked with the Francis Crick Institute’s ‘Covid Reflections – Postcards to Ourselves’ project to capture the things people have lost or gained from this period.
Before March, we were out delivering training and facilitating groups that are active in communities. Checking my diary now, our last face-to-face encounters were a very interesting and energetic Big Local London Learning Cluster event with 30 attendees looking at regeneration and housing, and a two-day Patient and Public Voice Impact and Influence course bringing together around 20 wonderful patient voice representatives sharing how they use their experience to contribute to better NHS services and systems change.
Since then, the ‘new normal’ means we are delivering a whole range of things through Zoom and other digital platforms. We have put a lot of time and energy into adapting our engagement tools to make our facilitation in this medium as accessible as possible. As part of this, we redesigned our Community Development Training Courses. We are really pleased with the initial roll-out: participants really got a lot from these digital courses.
There isn’t loads of community-development training about, so we want to continue to be able to offer high-quality training at a fair and competitive price, to encourage reflective practice and create a platform to build practitioners’ skills, understanding and confidence. Please help us to do this by promoting our courses – and bespoke training – to colleagues who might be interested.
We continue to share learning and best practice between projects to enhance and support all of the projects with which we’re involved. We also continue to connect communities, organisations and stakeholders with each other where we can see synergy or where it would add value.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank those with whom we’ve worked in what has been the strangest of years and acknowledge their local skills, talents and assets. I think we can all hope that 2021 is better for everyone. The fallout from this year will take its toll on communities, and we very much recognise that and want to be there to support and offer input. Wishing everyone well – and stay safe!
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.