These are extraordinary times, and extraordinary solutions are called for.
In the weeks since lockdown, the £eithChooses Steering Group and the community projects that won £eithChooses 2020 funding have been working together to come up with alternative project designs that stay within the original themes of £eith Chooses, but that are adapted to the current emergency situation. We are happy to report that this is going well, and we are confident that public money will be well spent to the benefit of vulnerable people in Leith.
Adapting their project has been easier for some organisations than for others, just because of the original design and focus of the various projects. Several projects that focused primarily on ‘fighting hunger’ have moved over to making available/delivering food to their service users in this time of emergency (rather than pursuing their original aims of people eating together, in various settings). This was felt by the Steering Group to be entirely appropriate, as it is recognised that many people are really struggling at this difficult time.
Projects that were focused primarily on ‘fighting social isolation’ have a harder job, since ironically – and tragically – enforcing social isolation is the main strategy, globally, of fighting the spread of corona virus! Online communication (Zoom) has become a major tool of course. However, recognising that many (and often the most vulnerable) people do not have access to the technological equipment or the knowledge and skills to use online communication, some projects are setting up phone-based systems to alleviate loneliness for isolated service users, to help identify people with urgent needs and problems, and to provide advice and support.
Several of the applicants that received funding through £eith Chooses are already well launched on their adapted project. We have set a deadline date of 28th June 2020 for all projects to finalise their adaptation plans (bearing in mind that the project has to be completed by 31 March 2021, due to the terms of the funding agreement), The £eithChooses Steering Group continues to communicate regularly and to meet weekly online, so that suggestions and discussions are ongoing, and decisions about proposed adaptations can be turned around very quickly.
The Steering Group has also launched discussion about possible scenarios for 2021.