“One of the big things that changed for us was the way that services have been tendered. So previously, the council did consultancy with the community and then came up with a service that groups compete for and against one another, when really people should be working together.
“But they really stepped up during the pandemic – they’ve been working with all of our local mental health and community organisations, and have helped us get together and develop the service based on what the community resources are, what our strengths are, and what the community actually needs.
“Once this was running, the council said: ‘You guys have done a really good job, we’ll pay for that.’
“This is a completely different way of doing things. It has genuinely transformed our relationships. Now we have our community partners, and for us, that contracting process was one of the biggest barriers.
“If I’m honest, we probably saw the local authorities as a frustration before [coronavirus]. And now we don’t. We’re able to talk to them and have a trusting relationship with them and that has changed everything.
“When you have a human relationship, it’s so much easier to provide a human service.”
“These calls have been great to get a broader picture of how different community stakeholders are also transforming local services all over the UK.
“By talking to one another we can see what the broader patterns are, learn from things we might not have tried, and get a more tangible sense of national opportunities for change – it gives us confidence that, locally, we’re moving in the right direction to contribute to something bigger."We need to keep talking so that we don't lose these lessons as we emerge from coronavirus. There's a momentum building that we want to capitalise on." [tweet this]
Sam Kammerling is research and learning lead at Likewise, a charity and social enterprise in Swiss Cottage, London. Likewise is rethinking social care, focussing on the importance of relationships, mutual and continual learning, and belonging. It also runs a community space for local people.