- Evidence from administrative and survey data sets has shown that life has changed a lot for people in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic. Survey research has highlighted that impacts of the pandemic have not been felt equally across different parts of the population.
- This report looks at these issues in more detail, from the perspectives of organisations who work in community settings and their understanding of the impact of the virus on the people that they usually work with. The research included questions about changes to organisations' work during the pandemic and the impact of the pandemic on a range of themes including economic security, social interactions and loneliness, community cohesion, safety, trust in government, and skills, learning and development. It also asked for views about the short, medium and long term priorities for the future.
- The research findings show many organisations moved quickly at the start of the pandemic to adapt their services to remote and digitally based models. This ensured continuity of operations and supported them to respond to new demands created by the lockdown measures, for example providing food, counselling and befriending services. Many organisations established new partnerships with organisations to support collaborative approaches to new demands. This period also involved new challenges, including financial pressures on organisations' resources, and a lack of accessibility of some remote and digital-based services for some users, and the overall pressures of a situation that could be characterised as a 'survival' time, with uncertain and damaging impacts.
- Participants in this research raised a number of negative consequences for the people and communities they are working with. These included economic and financial insecurity, worries about employment, damage to the skills and education of young people, the availability and affordability of food and basic supplies. They also highlighted social harm including reduced mental health, increased loneliness and addiction. Although some positive impacts were noted, particularly new offers of community and neighbourhood help and support, there were worries about the sustainability of these arrangements and the community assets and resources they depend on.
- Organisations' priorities for the short and longer terms focused on mental health and financial issues for different groups, and particularly for the most marginalised and vulnerable groups. Organisations suggested that priorities for the longer term should focus on creating a sustainable and inclusive economy, tackling inequalities, and for more integrated and sustainable models of services in places and across sectors.