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Thoughts from ‘actual’ lockdown experiences

13 May 2020

Find out from one of our members Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living about the efforts they are making to understand the community response to the coronavirus crisis. The CEO Geraldine Bentley shares their report and her insights.

At Wiltshire CIL we recognised that the lockdown was having a major impact on all our lives and wanted to understand in more detail how it was affecting the people our organisation serves. Our intention was to produce a rapid overview of how people were managing in lockdown. The report was published on the 7th May and was based on a one-week snapshot 

As an organisation we massively value the power of community, however, we have been concerned about the use of the term ‘vulnerable people in the community’, as people do not always self-identify with this. The report confirms that the people we support can be resilient and resourceful, overcoming the practical challenges that the lockdown presents in innovative ways and with the valued support of their families. It demonstrates that these times are especially tough for people such as parent carers, and that many are feeling lonely and isolated. However, despite major local initiatives, it’s clear some people do not feel able, or do not wish to, reach out to volunteers or neighbours outside of their close family circles.  

Initially in COVID-19, the public sector response was quite rightly reactive to the needs of local people as they perceived best, wanting to quickly put support structures in place. The report shows the value of family and we would like to better understand how this support, based on strong relationships and mutual value, works for people so that we might be able to build on this to provide services that are welcomed and useful. The future direction needs to be driven by people with lived experienceThere is an opportunity to work with the public sector to build on the strengths of local communities but more importantly for them to learn from the experiences of people in receipt of services who continue to find innovative ways of surviving lockdown. They do this by listening to the voices of those deemed vulnerable and letting them take the lead for finding solutionswhich will not always be in the realms of ‘professional’ knows best!  

Geraldine Bentley