Covid-19 has devastated lives, but it has also demonstrated the unflinching ‘neighbourliness’ of communities, who have risen to the challenges trailing in the wake of the pandemic, providing support, friendship and material assistance.
It was in the light of this spirit of community that last month saw Devizes MP Danny Kruger issue his report ‘Levelling up our communities: proposals for a new social covenant’. In his manifesto for community-led change , Mr Kruger proposes handing the power over the design and delivery of public services to local people; a deal with faith communities to work with the public sector on big social challenges; and a new £2 billion endowment, the Levelling Up Communities Fund, for investment in long-term, community-led transformation in left-behind areas.
As a community-led organisation, the St Vincent de Paul Society operates at a grassroots level in communities. After all, who knows their community better than the people who live there? They are best placed to effect and nurture positive change.
Living by the words of our founder the Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, “Let us do without hesitation whatever good lies at our hands”, the SVP has for nearly 200 years been living proof that kindness, caring and change are in our own hands.
Our communities are in urgent need right now as the pandemic and its aftershocks continue to shake those who have the least and are most vulnerable. The proposals described in the Kruger Report would formally recognise the relationship of volunteer to community and sow the seeds of a revolution in social thinking, but we can enact the ethos of the report today. By joining the SVP and other charitable organisations working in communities, we can affect change today and leave a legacy of caring and compassion.
A national strategy will never entirely cater for the nuances of community problems, which are often complex and require local, targeted solutions, but by recognising the human face of suffering in our own neighbourhoods, we can start to rebuild our communities.
Read the full Kruger Report here.