“We’ve been involved in all sorts of things from connecting our local mosques up to the food banks, to trying to make sure that the food being distributed is appropriate for the communities that need it. It’s been really good to be making links with our faith communities and connecting those groups into our local voluntary sector in a way that maybe they hadn’t been before.
“Community groups have been doing things like getting people sewing face masks and when they’re making one for themselves make another one to give to somebody else. And, you know, all sorts of small actions that have been really positive to see.
“Commissioners sometimes used to get treated like the enemy, whereas in Bradford I think we’ve really been on the same side, working together. The disruption to our usual ways of working has helped people see colleagues from the statutory sector more as human beings now. I do think that there is something really humanising about the way that we have been interacting during this process.
“On all these Zoom calls, because you can see my cat or my bedroom in the background, I’m more like a real person.
“I wanted to join this call and hear from other people because I am stopping doing that crisis response and starting to think about going back to the day job in the statutory sector. And I want to explore how, as we’re planning to restart health services, do we make sure that we are contributing to the conditions that allow community action to thrive. How do we make sure that we’re not getting in the way of stuff and that we’re supporting it instead?”"On these calls I have had the space to think about how I can better work with communities. That's only going to become more important as we move out of lockdown if we are going to keep some of these new processes." [tweet this]
Victoria Simmons is head of engagement at NHS Bradford and Craven in Yorkshire, where she has been working with grassroots organisations and local authorities colleagues on the coronavirus response across the whole district.