COVID-19, Inequality and Older People: Developing Community-Centred Interventions
This paper considers the basis for a ‘community-centred’ response to COVID-19. It highlights the pressures on communities weakened by austerity, growing inequalities, and cuts to social infrastructure.
The paper examines how physical distancing measures to combat COVID-19 have been matched by trends indicating greater social distancing within communities, illustrated by reduced contact between neighbours, and pressures on the social networks of groups such as single men. Despite this, there have been significant activities in many localities, the growth of mutual aid being one such example.
However, the paper argues against seeing community involvement exclusively in terms of encouraging volunteer, grassroots activity. Instead, such work should also be linked to collaborations which can influence policies and action at national, regional, and local authority levels. To date, the evidence suggests that neighbourhoods and the different groups within them, have been at the receiving end of measures to combat COVID-19, rather than being treated as equal partners.
The paper highlights four what it describes as ‘community-centred approaches’: promoting community participation; recruiting advocates for those who are isolated and/or socially excluded; creating a national initiative for supporting community-centred activity; and developing policies for the long-term. The paper concludes with some questions which society and communities will need to address given the likely continuation of measures to promote physical distancing.