The experience of Renfrewshire during the COVID-19 pandemic has been outlined in a new report by the Carnegie UK Trust, as part of a project designed to explore how communities and public services across the UK responded to the crisis.

Over five months of the pandemic, the Carnegie UK Trust had over 80 conversations with people from 16 communities throughout the UK. The conversations focussed on how organisations and communities were adapting to meet the changing needs of the people around them, and the evolving relationships between the public sector, the voluntary community and social enterprise sector, and communities.

The report analyses the needs of communities such as Renfrewshire, including support with food, decreasing household income, mental health, and digital access; the impact of the pandemic on places; the community responses; and the role of volunteers and the local voluntary, community and social enterprise sector. The Trust also looks to the future, to new waves of the virus and future emergencies, and outlines the hopes and opportunities for future ways of working and how communities including Renfrewshire can be further empowered to respond.

The Trust found:

  • Communities were flexible in the support they offered, to a wide range of people and their individual needs.
  • Working in partnership, the local council and community were able to meet people’s needs more effectively than offering stand-alone support.
  • The response to the emergency showed the need for more local support and services, including staff skilled to support communities, flexible sources of funding, and recognising the value of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector.
  • Local authorities should learn from both the needs of communities and responses unveiled during the pandemic.

Launching the report, Sarah Davidson, Chief Executive of the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “The experience of Renfrewshire during the COVID-19 pandemic became clear through our conversations. We heard how those in need were treated with kindness and dignity by their communities and the council coming together, with this collective response meeting needs more effectively than stand-alone support.

“We hope that the Council and community partners will build on this way of working as we face the winter months ahead and future stages of the pandemic.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “Since the outset of the pandemic, Council staff have been working tirelessly together with local volunteers and community groups across Renfrewshire to support people during these unprecedented times, and the collective response has been phenomenal. Together, we mobilised at pace to set up the local assistance centre and neighbourhood hubs, delivering thousands of food parcels and medicines to vulnerable members of our communities and helping to keep in touch with elderly and isolated residents.

“There has been a tremendous outpouring of kindness from groups and individuals across Renfrewshire, and volunteers will continue to play a critical role as communities begin to reconnect, renew and recover in the months ahead.”