The COVID Conversations raised a range of issues. Participants talked about types of support that makes it easier for them to manage and stay safe. Things like support from community groups and friends, resources from school, and council payments were spoken about as making a real difference in helping participants follow government guidelines.
Participants also talked about struggles, and areas where they felt they had been left out of decision-making. COVID-19 guidance on shopping and public transport were pointed out as problematic. Participants questioned the assumption that everyone is able to afford buying face coverings, increases in heating and electricity bills, and a good internet connection.
Finally, conversations raised issues that were of a concern for the future, such as the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, job prospects and young people. Participants provided their ideas for how the government could communicate better, and suggested actions and priorities for agencies in the short and medium term.
Those involved were asked for suggestions of future policy interventions and ideas included:
- Involve people and households on low-incomes as early as possible in policy development to raise important practical issues.
- Enhance out-of-school activities and community-based youth work to give young people the chance to build missed social connections.
- Develop additional mental health services for young people across Scotland and widen opportunities for employment for young people, in particular amongst those at risk of poverty.
- Tackle the 'digital divide' in a way that recognise there are ongoing costs of data, internet connections and power, as well as devices.
- Work with retailors to expand access to face coverings at entrances, and to assist low-income families to be able to use delivery systems. This would help many families as well as reducing unnecessary footfall within supermarkets.
- Ensure that frontline third sector organisations have the necessary resources to continue to deliver vital preventative as well as acute services.
- Increase the capacity of public transport, including taxi drivers, to support people on low incomes, especially to access hospital appointments.
- Link with local activists and trusted emissaries supporting some of Scotland's most vulnerable citizens to test and develop messaging and practice. Strengthen these links as channels of information about the virus.