“We opened as the community response unit (CRU) way before the local council opened the hubs and the mutual aid networks got started, because we knew we would have to close as an entertainment venue as soon as the Govt started listening to other countries about Covid!
“We’ve been running anything that we still can to keep the money coming in. We claimed every bit of state money that we could, both to run the response unit and to keep the business ticking over. We kept very strict financial records and reports which can be used in the future to demonstrate the large range of skills and expertise which exist in our community.
“It is very often the case that the public sector and the third or community sector have an uneasy alliance. As Ingrid Knowles said in today’s webinar, community sector businesses are seen as fluffy or amateur, while the public sector are the professionals and own the community assets.
“In Settle, we came across this scenario very quickly. The team included our parish council, Age UK and the community and business hub. One of the things we had to do very quickly was make sure people got their medication. We immediately went to our small chemist and they said: ‘That’s great, what can we do? How can we work with you?”
Then we went to the local surgery and they said: “We can’t do this, we can’t do that. It’s not in the rules.” You tell them the chemist is doing it and they say, “Well, they aren’t in the public sector.” Once the size of the issue became apparent, we were ‘allowed’ to help, but the relationship was never comfortable.
“The public sector seems to think it should have been in control from the start but it wasn’t, because of its own rules and inflexibility, whereas we went ahead and got on with it. That relationship still has a lot of work ahead of it. Indeed the concern is that when this Covid crisis dies down there will be a big push to return to the old systems.
“Settle is quite a unique place so we’re hoping that won’t happen."I love the word conviviality that came up on these calls. Conviviality is definitely what’s keeping us going. We need more fellowship and openness about how we are approaching challenges as we emerge from lockdown." [tweet this]
“We need to keep talking in this way. We need to remember that antonyms of convivial include unsociable, antisocial, insociable, introverted, nongregarious, reclusive, unfriendly, unsocial, apathetic, boring and without meaningful content. Not really the sort of community we want to live in!”
Jane Cotton is from Settle in the North Yorkshire borders. She is a trustee of Settle Victoria Hall, a Grade II listed music hall leased from Craven District Council. It is a community space that brings arts, culture and education to this small market community.