The People's Panel - community resilience: research findings

Research findings from the 'People's Panel' on community resilience. This publication also details the background and motivation for developing the People’s Panel, how it was delivered and what impact it has made.

Key findings

The ‘People’s Panel for Wellbeing: 2022 and beyond’ was established with the aim to empower a diverse group of the public to come together and share their views over time. They provided their opinions, experiences, and ideas on the wellbeing of people in Scotland, alongside topics that were pertinent to specific policy areas. This approach to evidence gathering ensures that the in-depth realities of people’s experiences are captured alongside other data sources, such as survey data, to help improve decisions and policies. This provides enhanced understanding of the wellbeing challenges faced by people in Scotland during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twenty four people, with diverse experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, with representation across the protected characteristics, took part in the panel. Discussions about community resilience were conducted across two panel events in November 2022 and January 2023. The key findings are:

Resilience awareness and planning

  • When members were prompted to reflect on what ‘community resilience’ meant to them, they spoke about people and places and the idea of a community being a source of strength and support. It was also acknowledged that a ‘community’ can be hard to define and that being resilient at this moment in time, due to the compounding impacts of COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis, was difficult.
  • When asked about their awareness of disruptions, emergencies or unexpected events, panel members tended to talk about personal difficulties that had financial implications, like a boiler breaking down. Global climate change and NHS pressures were also major concerns for the members.
  • Some members preferred not to think about future emergencies as their own day-to-day problems were enough to cope with.
  • When asked to reflect on the responsibility for emergencies, most were clear that the responsibility for emergencies should be shared between individuals, public services, the business sector and the third sector. Members were clear to make a distinction between having a responsibility (such as the government) and playing a supporting role (such as the third sector).

Household resilience in practice

  • The most common action across the panel was to own a first aid kit. Other examples provided included: having some extra food supplies, checking weather forecasts, and owning items such as candles and a torch. In the main, these were fairly routine actions that did not require a lot of investment, knowledge or specialist skills.
  • For a small number of members, there was some reluctance and resistance towards the idea of being asked to plan for future emergencies. This was related to attitudes towards the government and attitudes towards who and what organisation should be responsible for preparing households.
  • Some were so overwhelmed by day to day pressures, dealing with the cost of living crisis and ongoing impacts of the pandemic, that they did not have the financial or emotional resources to prepare or invest in ‘what if’ items.
  • Many saw the value of local communities. They were recognised as a source of information through speaking to neighbours, attending community cafes and local faith groups.
  • Online community groups were also highlighted as a useful source of local information, allowing members to access timely information relating to their home towns.

Looking for help and support

  • Members mostly used their family, social networks and the internet when looking for help and advice. A few went to advice centres and charitable organisations and had used foodbanks and solicitors.
  • Some members talked about not seeking help because of feelings of stigma and shame. This was related to a number of reasons, including, feeling embarrassed, a perception that help seeking feels like a loss of independence, and feeling that they did not deserve the help as others were much worse off than them.

Helping people to help themselves

  • In response to being asked what might help individuals and communities, members recommended tailored support and accessible information from Scottish Government and partners for particular people and communities. These included: disabled people, people living in poverty, people experiencing homelessness, older people, non-native English speakers, those without any access to the internet and refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Suggestions for Scottish Government and partners to help households cope with emergencies included practical recommendations such as, providing free or subsidised kits or ‘resilience boxes’ and providing routine first aid training in schools, communities and workplaces.
  • Considering longer-term preparation, it was suggested that regions of Scotland could be more self-sufficient in terms of growing food locally.Reflecting on how to engage with members of the public, and keep them informed during an emergency situation, the panel members felt there needed to be a balance between advice and action. For example, Scottish Government and partners explaining what they had done to prepare for emergencies and also what the public needed to do.
  • In an emergency, members said they wanted up to date information localised to their area, and some spoke of the benefits of alerts and text messaging.
  • While there was broad agreement that alert style messages are helpful, some members felt they should be reserved for reactive emergency situations only.


  • The insights gathered over the panel events have been extensive. They are relevant to a range of policy areas and priorities in the Scottish Government.
  • For example, the members’ experiences and insights were considered in the tone and content of Scottish Government social media messaging. It prompted officials in the Scottish Government to adapt communication messages to be more relatable to those who may struggle to gather additional items in an emergency kit.
  • The insights also helped to influence the content of a number of engagement events between community groups, voluntary sector organisations and statutory emergency responders between April and June 2023, as part of a Resilient Communities Conference programme.
  • These findings align with wider research on community resilience that suggest cultural and demographic factors have a significant influence on how people and communities may plan, prepare and react to unexpected events, who they may turn to for assistance, and on people’s attitudes towards seeking help.[1]
  • This research has also provided new perspectives on household resilience as people are dealing with the impacts of the pandemic and then the cost of living crisis.
  • One of the key strengths of the panel, was in the way it provided a bridge between policymakers and the public. Gathering these diverse perspectives, enabled policymakers to gain valuable insights into the real-world challenges faced by Scottish communities.
  • The principles of trust, respect and inclusivity were weaved throughout the panel setup and delivery (more details in the Method section). These foundational elements have allowed the panel to flourish as a platform for effective policy-making.



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