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.

Research Findings

This report sets out the findings from the People’s Panel events on resilience and wellbeing. Scottish Government colleagues in the Resilience Division (a division that leads on emergency planning, response and recovery) wanted to consider panel members’ knowledge of, and views about the concept of resilience at a household and community level. Alongside this, they wanted to explore what the members’ awareness was of risks they face and whether they make plans for mitigation of these risks. Additionally, the Resilience Division wanted to delve further and explore how the Scottish Government can help households cope with emergencies and how to communicate with households about resilience to emergencies.

Prior to the breakout sessions, members were given an introduction to the idea of resilience from Scottish Government policy colleagues. Risks to resilience, were described in terms of emergencies, disruptions or unexpected events that might impact on their health, safety and wellbeing.

Discussions regarding resilience were covered at two People’s Panel events (event 4, November 2022 and event 5, January 2023). See appendix C for the discussion questions. The remainder of this report sets out the findings organised by the research questions across these two events.

Describing ‘community resilience’

The first discussion of event 4 was centred around asking the members to describe what ‘community resilience’ meant to them. The term resilience is used in the Scottish Government National Performance Framework. This is a framework which sets out ‘national outcomes’ that reflect the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland, which can be measured to help track progress. These national outcomes include that people “live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe”.

The Scottish Government also has a definition of ‘community resilience’.[17] However, it was important to gain a better understanding of what the members perceived as being a community, respecting the fact that this will differ among people with varying backgrounds, needs and circumstances.

Figure 2: Word cloud representing members views on what ‘community’ meant to them
A close-up of words in a circle representing the panel members views on what the concept of a community meant to them. The biggest words are 'online', 'neighbours' and 'sharing'.

Figure 2 is a visual summary of the members’ views on what the concept of community meant to them. The words are taken from the discussions that took place between the facilitators and the members during event four. As displayed in the image, the words are in different sizes. The bigger and bolder the text, the more often this was expressed by a panel member. So this included words such as: ‘online’, ‘sharing’ ‘neighbours’ ‘family’ and ‘people like me’. This highlights that the members’ concepts of community included thinking about the people that are close to them, such as their friends and family. It also included the idea that those people are like minded and they are brought together (in a place and online) through common interests. Some qualities of a community that were expressed included ‘caring’, ‘support’ and ‘reliance’.

“Community means knowing I can rely on another person. That makes me feel better and improves my mental health. It’s not just about sharing an occasional evening together, it’s bigger than that.”

It was also acknowledged that ‘community’ can be hard to define, people may belong to multiple communities and that it may not always have positive connotations.

“It’s hard to describe. It’s such a multi-layered thing. It’s everything from being people together, to being people together in particular groups, in particular places, in particular ways. The interactions between us as individuals. It’s the coming together. I like to think it’s when individuals become more than the sum of its parts.”

“It is a strange question [what does community mean to you]. It can be about people being thrown together according to where we live. It can be about shared interest. It can be good. It can also be exclusive, and this can be bad.”

When prompted to describe what resilience meant to them, the members tended to think about resilience on two levels; at a personal and at a community level. For example, at a community level, resilience was described as being the feature, or to use a member’s words, the “glue” that would enable recovery from an adverse situation.

“Resilience to me is, it is like a system. So if something breaks, the system keeps on, it continues on, you have got something in place.”

At an individual level, members described “bouncing back”, “persistence” and becoming stronger after a challenging situation.

Some members also felt that the term ‘resilience’ is sometimes overused, and it has become a bit of ‘buzzword’. For example, when it is used within official strategy documents without reflection on the connotations or meaning. Some members expressed a sense of exacerbation, and felt, given the current societal challenges, a negative reaction towards the term ‘resilience’.

“Life is hard enough with Covid and cost of living. All of these things affect communities so much. Then someone says, ‘be resilient’. It’s enough, it’s really enough.”

Resilience Awareness and Planning

In event 4 the members were asked to talk about what, if any, sorts of emergencies they were concerned about, what, if any, plans they had made if these things happened, and who they thought was responsible for coping with emergencies.

Please note, as set out in other People’s Panel reports many panel members’ lives had been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and they were facing additional pressures, concerns and anxieties due to the cost of living crisis.[18] As such, these findings reflect this.

This section presents the findings under the following themes:

Weather events and power outages

In terms of their awareness, panel members’ responses were influenced by their own circumstances and personal worries, and to some extent, by events that had already happened to them.

They were highly aware of the risk of bad weather, often seeing it as inevitable. This was because for some, it was a common event. Rural and island dwellers had particular concerns.

“We have disruptions because the ferries do not go or break down because of the weather.”

For many other members, they were most aware of bad weather leading to power outages and the heightened risk of flooding due to climate change.

“When we bought our flat the place was safe from flooding. The next property I’ll be moving to is more at risk and I would need to protect myself from climate change. It’s high on my risks.”

Some members expressed a sense of climate anxiety, and the need for forward planning.

“There’s also floods and also droughts. We need to plan for this, for the impact of climate change.”

Members had a variety of fears connected to the potential impacts of outages, including the impact it could have on their ability to work or travel.

“I won’t be able to work if these conditions happen. If we have no power, I have no internet, if I have no internet I can’t work.”

Some feared potential isolation.

“My concern is not being able to use the phones. If the electricity goes down, we don’t have a phoneline.”

Unexpected expenses and rising costs

For many, their awareness of emergencies were related to potential personal emergencies, or day-to-day problems that would mean an unexpected expense.

“I’ve just went nearly 2 weeks with no heating or hot water. My boiler was broken and I couldn’t get hold of my landlord to fix it.”

Some members had experienced family emergencies that caused unexpected expenses.

“My father had a stroke and is paralysed, [he lives in] India. It’s too expensive to get tickets.”

Members also anticipated future risks, compounded by the cost of living crisis.

“Every winter the slates come off the roof. The costs to repair them have gone through the roof, it is significant, a large amount of money, and it terrifies me.”

Shared responsibility

Members tended to agree that responsibility should be shared between individuals, governments, public services and the private sector, and that there was a role for business and the third sector. They discussed how effective it could be when all the agencies, third sector, government and individuals worked in partnership to take responsibility for emergencies.

Members largely thought that the responsibility for dealing with emergencies depended on the type of emergency. So, for example, some felt that their personal safety and the safety of their families was down to them.

“Personal responsibility for your own safety and well-being, you should not be dependent on the state for that.”

Members gave examples of personal safety, such as ensuring their car or home was ready for winter and adverse weather incidents.

For some though, the thought of being personally responsible was perceived to be a challenge.

“I feel that I am responsible for all aspects of my life and my family life, and it is a burden and it is very, very difficult to bear.”

It was suggested that as the role of government is to provide safety and protect citizens, then local and national governments should take responsibility for emergencies.

“We pay for the state and local government to be a service to us, to keep us safe, to be there for the emergencies, that is what they are paid for, to serve us.”

There was a difference in view in terms of how much the government should be involved. Some members believed the government should plan for all disruptions. Others felt that governments should only be responsible when lives were threatened.

“Local authorities and government, they should have plans in place no matter the emergency.”

Some members took it for granted that there were plans in place to deal with emergencies. As such, they were surprised to be asked to consider whose responsibility it was.

“We have always been led to believe it is the government’s place to manage an emergency.”

Given the current climate, following the pandemic and dealing with the cost of living crisis, some felt that governments should be taking more responsibility at this time.

“There is an emergency related to COVID so they, all types of government, local authorities, Scottish Government, UK government and the rest of the world, across the board, governments are not doing enough.”

Members felt that there was a role, note not a responsibility, for local communities, faith organisations and charities (collectively the third sector) in planning for emergencies. Members were clear that this sector should not have sole responsibility. Firstly, as they felt it was not appropriate, but also they felt that reliance on this sector could be ‘risky’ due to the sector’s financial pressures.

“But they [the third sector] can't meet all of society's problems. Relying on the third sector for resilience is risky. Third sector organisations are under financial pressure.”

Reflecting on the role of the community, members gave examples of when local communities could help during emergencies or disruptions.

“During the bin strike, with my neighbours, we organised and managed to keep the area quite clean.”

Members who lived in more remote parts of Scotland spoke about how essential the community is during an emergency situation.

“It would depend on where you live. If you live in the [name of island] you have to rely on the community as there aren’t that many services.”

However, there was a degree of anger from some members about what role the community should play, when so many were facing such severe hardship.

“How can you band together as a community when so many of the community is below the poverty line. How do you expect them to be resilient and cope with cost of living.”

Looking for help and support

The members reflected on where they might access help and support when faced with emergencies, disruptions or unexpected events.

This section presents the findings under the following themes:

Family, friends and social networks

When asked what is the first port of call when looking for help and support in times of trouble, most participants indicated family, friends and other social networks.

“I get reassurance from my mum. I’m very heavily reliant on my family during crises for additional support.”

An example was provided where a member had tried other avenues but ended up seeking support from family when no other financial help was forthcoming.

“I found a private let, the landlord recommended I get in touch with the council for help with furnishings. The council wouldn’t help so I had to borrow from my parents.”

Some members did not have family available to help them. One enterprising member with no family support gave an example of building a social network to help in times of need.

“You seek it out. You make friends. I was in the climate change group through word of mouth. The more people I was engaging with the more likely to find out this information.”

The internet

People’s Panel members reported the internet as being a valuable source of help.

“First point of call is going online, usually Google, then down the rabbit hole.”

Although some members were concerned about digital exclusion and the poverty that stemmed from that.

“Digital exclusion is a big thing. Scottish Government have made a big dint in digital exclusion but not being able to access support online, that makes you poorer immediately.”

Another problem with relying on the internet was coverage. Some members lived in parts of the country where they could lose connection.

“I live in an area where internet is not great, the internet goes down.”

A further issue included the accessibility of website content.

“I don’t understand why websites that provide information do not have a read to me function, there are lots of disabilities where this would help.”

There were split views on the Scottish Government website. Some members singled out the Scottish Government website as “frustrating”.

“You need to have better triggers where web searches take you to that website. I don’t tend to come across Scottish Government websites on searches.”

Others had praise for the Scottish Government website content, particularly around accessibility.

“Scottish Government does a pretty good job of simplifying and making things easy to understand.”

Advice centres and charitable organisations

Third-sector support organisations were mentioned as an helpful source of help and support. Although some panel members said they had recently experienced problems with accessing such help due to high demand.

Panel members also discussed using various other helplines, and charitable organisations for help and support.

Members had accessed support and help from foodbanks, and not just for food.

“Some foodbanks also have clothes. Or if you have data and Wi-Fi problems foodbanks can sometimes help too.”

Not seeking help – independence, stigma and shame

Some People’s Panel members spoke about not seeking help. This was for a variety of reasons. For some, it was about losing independence.

“But, for me, asking for help feels a little bit like losing my independence. This might be a generational thing. A lot of older people don’t like asking for help.”

Others simply did not like asking for help.

“I do find it hard to ask for help. It’s not about losing my independence, but, it’s just something in me.”

Some members talked of not accessing formal help because they would feel shame.

“I don’t discuss it due to the embarrassment and stigma associated with seeking help financially, or accessing services.”

Another discussion centred on members not asking for help because they felt that others are so much worse off than them.

“Where I grew up, in [town] you were always surrounded by people so much worse off. Now, there’s a part of me that feels I’m undeserving of support.”

Household resilience in practice

In event 5 the aim was to explore how practical it was for households to prepare for emergencies and disruptions, and to find out what the members believed they can do to help them cope with the impact of an emergency.

Before the members went into their discussion groups, a member of the Scottish Government Resilience Division set out the context for this work. This included information about the role of governments and other public services in Scotland in planning for and coping with emergencies, and the role that the public and communities can also play.[19] The idea of the ideal ‘resilient household’ was raised in order to investigate if this model was realistic for this group of people.

A resilient household was described as one that:

  • Stayed informed
  • Followed advice given
  • Made a household plan
  • Had an emergency kit
  • Gets skills
  • Gets connected

The panel members’ responses were covered in the following themes:

Staying informed

The majority of members reported keeping up to date with news, and weather reports in particular. They used a combination of TV, radio, the internet and social media. Social media was particularly useful for members who did not watch the news or buy a newspaper.

“I don’t buy newspapers or watch the news, it has to come to my phone or social media.”

Members wanted quick and frequent access to information about adverse weather.

“For adverse weather it is important to have that information communicated and updated as often as possible. TV weather reports are not broken-down hour by hour and that is useful to plan the day or week ahead. That [the internet] is just how we get our information now.”

Members also described being proactive, and had found ways in which they could be informed directly of incidents by signing up to alerts and updates.

“I’ve signed up to flood alerts as the causeways near me can get blocked.”

In deciding which sources to use to stay informed, members raised the topic of trust. For example, there was some consideration given to which sources were ‘official’ and ‘safe’. In some cases a tendency not to trust particular sources appeared to reflect a wider mistrust of mainstream media.

“I have a tendency to mistrust. I think there is a collusion of information from all the channels, they all say the same thing and don’t give the right information”.

Preparation and planning

‘Household resilience’ was perceived as being related to personal needs and circumstances. This meant that the members varied considerably in their approach to emergency planning.

“You learn what works for you, and it’s an ongoing process to prevent such emergencies.”

Some of the members provided clear examples of their advance planning. They spoke about strategies that are practical for them, including things that they own should there be an unexpected emergency, or behaviours that they routinely engage in to help keep them informed. The most common action was to own a first aid kit.

Other examples provided included: having some extra food supplies, having spare candles, checking weather forecasts, keeping spare toilet rolls, having alternative

heating sources and power banks, and owning a torch. In the main, these were fairly routine actions that did not require a lot of investment, knowledge or specialist skills.

“We are prepared for about 2 weeks…anything beyond that becomes an issue because it involves financial investment.”

Some members, particularly those in rural areas, were well prepared because they were used to dealing with adverse weather and risks.

“I’m exposed to storms so very prepared. Got a go-bag ready[20]. Shoes near bed in case of broken glass from storms or in the remote event of an earthquakes. I’ve got torches in my bedside table in case of power cuts.”

However, this level of preparation was not a common strategy, nor very practical for the majority of members.

It was not only geographical and weather related risks that encouraged preparation. For some members, it was their anxiety and worry, which meant they had taken steps to build up supplies.

“On the supermarket shelves quite often there is no paracetamol, which is not good for my paranoia. My mental health is not great, and I feel I need things for that because of so many shortages”.

Members who are carers or have health needs also spoke of being prepared for specific health related emergencies.

Making sure phones are charged, basic things. Partner keeping a semi-packed backpack ready, making sure everything there for partner to take it to hospital. You become more vigilant and confident through emergencies”.

Reluctance and resistance

For a small number of members, household resilience was not practical due to some wider resistance towards the idea of planning for emergencies.

“Why does Scottish Government want us to be ready when it’s not ready itself? To put pressure on us to have candles, batteries and so on in the house, it’s the wrong thing to be talking about and, sorry to say, a bit of a waste of time. Having candles and batteries is the last thing on my mind”.

As described above, feelings of resistance may stem from someone’s attitude towards who and what organisation should be responsible for preparing households (as discussed in the earlier section).

Amongst some other members, it was more of a reluctance, stemming from either not wanting to live in an ‘emergency ready state’, or the opinion that living in a city means emergency planning is less applicable to them.

“They [the measures for resilience] seem quite sensible and useful but they’re not things that will really apply to me in a flat in [city], but still good to be aware of.”

Another reason, as noted in the next section, was the view that emergency related issues are seen as less of a priority than current, pressing concerns about cost of living.

Coping capabilities

Many members were limited in the things they felt they could do to help them cope. Some were so overwhelmed dealing with ongoing day-to-day issues that emergency planning did not feel viable.

Ongoing impacts from the pandemic, and dealing with the cost of living crisis, meant members did not have the resources (financial and emotional) to think about emergency planning.

“The way things are just now, cost of living, energy, food prices, it’s a lot to ask just now of people to also prepare for emergencies”.

Many spoke of the cost of living crisis as a significant barrier to being able to cope, with a need to prioritise everyday living expenses over investing in ‘what if’ items.

“All of this is financially tied – it is tied to household financial capacity. Do they [households] have the means to prepare? If they don’t have this, the conversation is completely irrelevant.”

Whilst some members talked about the benefits of items such as emergency kits, the cost of these was a barrier.

“Kits like these are not cheap – not affordable with cost of living. It’s choosing to eat or buy something I may never need.”

Some members were uncertain whether they had the knowledge or skills to cope with the impact of an emergency.

“Not something I have ever thought about, don’t know what emergencies I would face, apart from things you just have to deal with when it happens”.

“We had some severe weather a few weeks back. I was terrified. It made me realise how unprepared our house was but I wouldn’t know how to prepare if that makes sense.”

This member was unsure what skills would be needed or if they had any.

“Don’t know if I have any skills. I can’t first aid, I’m terrible at DIY. Not sure I’d be much use in an emergency to anybody.”

Consequently, education and training was suggested as a way to proactively prepare the public for emergency situations. It was suggested that first aid training should be provided in schools and workplaces and that the Scottish Government could play a key role in the delivery of an educational programme.

“Maybe Scottish Government could do a series of things in towns and cities for first aiders and organisations. I have done stuff in the past but because of costs they [organisation previously worked for] have pulled it back from me.”

The value of the local community

Most members talked about the value of the local community for help in emergencies. This included members getting to know neighbours and getting/giving help when needed.

“Even with just a bit of contact, you get to know people’s situations. And then you know, if there is an emergency, they come into your mind, and you know they might need some help.”

The local community was a source of information, with members describing speaking to their neighbours but also the role of community cafes and local faith and community organisations.

As displayed in Figure 2, earlier in the report, online communities, including social media networks, were also discussed as playing a key role in providing members with reactive information about local issues in a timely way.

“In my social circle it’s a case of one person sees it and tells their networks.”

For members who had anxieties about going out because of COVID-19, these online communities were seen as particularly important.

Online communities should be growing. There are people who will never be able to go back to how it was. Some of us can’t go out anywhere unless we are willing to take the risk.”

However, there were also members who had problems with their neighbours and those who did not feel they had a strong local community. Some felt that the pandemic had affected their local community.

“I’ve lived in a small social housing scheme for 12 years. We all know each other, we talk to each other on the street, we try to help each other as best as we can. But it’s been very different during the pandemic, keep our distance and shout at each other across gardens. Covid has put limits on people’s community.”

Some felt that the ‘community spirit’ was not what it used to be, others described living in more urban environments where they did not know their neighbours.

“My parents where they live they have neighbours’ keys and know everyone’s name. I now live in the city in a block of flats with so many other people and I couldn’t tell you any of their names.”

Helping people to help themselves

In event 5, the aim was to explore what People’s Panel members thought could be done, either by the Scottish Government or by partners to help people be more resilient. Then, members were also asked if they had any ideas about the best way to communicate these ideas to the general public.

This section presents the findings under the following themes:

Tailored support

Members felt that certain communities needed more tailored and accessible information from the Scottish Government and partners. This included support for particular people and communities which members identified as: people who are disabled, older people, rural communities, those living in poverty, people experiencing homelessness, non-native English speakers, asylum seekers and those who do not have access to the internet.

Scottish Government has been good at giving devices, enabling better connectivity but there are still many people in vulnerable groups who don’t have the resources to go to a website and become aware. I’d like to see more about how we disseminate information to vulnerable groups and people not on the internet, or maybe even with no access to radios and TVs.”

A localised approach to communication was also favoured by members, including directing people to local sources of support.

“We need to think of differences in areas in terms of information given. For example, Glasgow versus Highlands. The Government knows what is best through research but it needs to be interpreted by community leaders in local areas.”

To help tackle financial barriers, the idea of providing subsidised emergency kits was suggested. These could include essential items such as information on what to do, first aid kits and power banks and could function like the ‘Baby Box’.[21]

“It could be done the same way as the baby box in Scotland, so that every house has a backpack of items that also has a small booklet that explains everything in terms of flooding, in terms of any other emergency, emergency contact details, a small first aid kit and basic information on how to use it. Maybe a power bank too.”

Other communities in need of tailored support included those with language and cultural barriers, and people who are experiencing homelessness.

“It’s not just communities affected by poverty, but differences in languages. Some just aren’t part of society in the same way. Asylum seekers are kept out of society and have no way to do all of this. The way people with addictions need support, the homeless community have no way to do this and have to rely on others doing it for them”.

Practical recommendations

Members provided a number of practical recommendations and ideas on how Scottish Government and partners can help them to deal with emergencies.

This included suggestions to make local public services more efficient and better connected, although issues around industrial action were also noted.

“This could be a lot better or households could be more prepared if local services were more joined up. But all public services are on strike – so are we alone in this?”

It was felt that better access to information is required, including from local councils, and that this information needs to be available in other languages.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen It’s really good! But it’s the first time I’ve seen it. Why is this? I’m tech savvy, I’m aware and it’s never reached me – why is that? I think government need to force that message through”.

Some participants were keen on expanding first aid community resources, such as providing Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices in town centres.

“We have training in my work so staff know how to use AED devices. Some villages have multiple devices for 10,000 people. But we need to have it more in town centres”.

Considering longer-term preparation, it was suggested that regions of Scotland could be more self-sufficient.

“It could be possible for the island to be self-sufficient if the Government gave some help. This would allow the island to be prepared for disaster. The local council has been very poor at encouraging crofting and growing food locally”.

It was also suggested that educating people at an early age and not being afraid of talking about difficult subjects was important.

British and Scottish culture is very centred around not hearing about unpleasant things. There needs to be realistic education, but we have idealistic education. We need to have more honest conversations. I don’t know what is needed from school level, but there is a reluctance to address the bad stuff”.

Preparing practically and mentally for emergencies

The members suggested that communications should be aimed at helping people to prepare, both practically and mentally, for emergencies.

Emergency-specific information with clear information on who is responsible for what action was important to members. The timing was also discussed, with the benefits and challenges of advance warning raised.

“Talk about timeframe, how long it is expected to last. What are the authorities going to do and what are you expected to do”.

Being prepared was not just about practical steps, members also felt that messaging which encourages people to stay calm is important. This member provided an example.

“Don’t panic. There are resources to help you, information that you can get.”

Members felt the tone and language of information and communications would play an important role in how information would be received. They recognised that fear would not be effective and that trust would play a role in how receptive someone was to the message.

“I do not think people like being frightened. So I would hope that something could be done in such a way. It is a tricky one, I think I would be very careful in wording it”.

Proactive and reactive communications

The issues that the members focused on, when communicating with the public during emergencies, included: the length of information, the timing of information, accessibility and message content.

While some People’s Panel members wanted brief information that was ‘short and factual’ during emergencies, others sought more detailed information but they were clear that it should be easy to follow.

“Clear information that is easy to follow. Simple steps broken down into manageable chunks”.

Most members were looking for information during emergencies which will provide the most up-to-date information in real time, localised to their area. Alerts or text messages were considered to be a popular way of communicating with the public, allowing information to be shared easily and without relying on an internet connection.

“Some form of using mobile phone emergency alert system is really useful, services like flood alert are vital for people like me and the fact it's a text message means I can set it up for neighbours. These need publicising more”.

Members suggested that initial alert messages should notify of the emergency, and should then be followed up with more detailed information.

For the initial message, it should be calm and clear. Not using abbreviations, exactly what message you want. You could follow it up with more detailed messages but the initial one should just be an alert”.

In addition, members highlighted the importance of providing updated information, and the need to be transparent about the progress of the recovery operations. A lack of transparency and openness caused some frustration among individuals.

“When people start to get frustrated, when people had the 7 days outage, they said it would take 2 days and then they found more things wrong. Don’t sugar coat it, if you tell people that it’s going to be 2 days and then after that another 3 days, it really flattens people”.

While there was broad agreement alert style messages are helpful, some members felt they should be reserved for reactive emergency situations, and should not be used to communicate other information to the public.

“I wouldn’t want to get messages about things that I wouldn’t need to take action on. Keep it for emergency situations, do not over use it”.

Other means of communication that were considered useful by members in communicating information, included newsletters, flyers and posters. These formats were thought to be useful as part of proactive or planned information distribution. There were parallels drawn to how the Government communicated with people during the pandemic.

“It is also reminiscent of some of the stuff we got from Covid, when they started sending out big mailing campaigns, maybe this is something that needs to be on paper for people, it is something that you can ignore immediately and then come back at the later date, it would be less immediately overwhelming.”

Ideas to encourage engagement

People’s Panel members shared additional recommendations which they believed could encourage engagement from the public. These recommendations centred around three areas: advice and action, trust, and creative communications.

Some members want to see a balance between action and advice:

“Meeting us halfway is a good way of putting it. Explaining what the government has done is the number one message, and explaining to people what they can do should be the number two message, even little things, for example, is your phone charged.”

Members also pointed out the relationship between trust and taking action. That is, trust in the information provided by the Scottish and UK Government, and trust in the media to provide impartial and unbiased information. Some members cited the communication around the pandemic as the reason for this.

“Personally, I feel that governments made such massive mistakes through the pandemic. It’s going to be hard to gain that trust back, and it is not only the Scottish Government but also the UK Government”.

This lack of trust had implications for some members, in terms of trusting the government in future emergencies. One member reflected that the success of future communications could be undermined by a lack of trust.

But a lot of people do not trust government, and what they had to say about the pandemic. I am not sure that leaflets through the doors or more campaigns for the telly would be so effective”.

People’s Panel members also encouraged creative methods to engage with the public that would help information be more memorable. Members cited some examples of positive communication they felt had worked well.

“From the communication point of view, I remember from the Covid times washing hands while singing “Happy Birthday”, and I still remember that, that is an example of the proper way of communicating guidance”.



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