A row of brightly painted terraced houses

Commissioned by Local Trust and led by The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) at the University of Birmingham, this in-depth research explores how 26 communities across England have responded to, and are recovering from, COVID-19.

Key findings revealed:

  • An escalation of poverty

    Hunger has been an ongoing concern for many of the community groups. Many have also ramped up efforts to address other forms of poverty, developing partnerships with welfare rights and money advice agencies, improving access to digital technology and data and helping improve the quality of the environment.
  • A growing mental health crisis

    Concerns about mental health have intensified and community groups are looking to do more to respond, while recognising that these complex issues are beyond the reach of communities alone to solve.
  • Increasing inequalities in health and wellbeing

    Effects of the pandemic have been disproportionately felt by certain groups. Community groups have developed a range of mechanisms to engage potentially excluded individuals, including through targeted outreach activities, building connections, and developing partnerships.

With phase 1 and 2 now complete, the research uncovers a wide range of creative community responses to the pandemic beyond the provision of food and basic necessities. It also records a remarkable change in relationships between communities and government bodies through the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the significance of established community-led infrastructure in the face of crisis.

Angus McCabe, lead Researcher from the University of Birmingham explained:

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, the scale of the challenge has grown, and energies have waned. But communities in our study have not only sustained their activities but adapted accordingly. Through nurturing rich connections between individuals, groups and agencies in their respective communities, their responses to the pandemic, even at the height of lockdown, have extended far beyond crisis provision”.

Findings from phase three of the report will be available in March 2022.