Community Care Hubs – the end of an incredible era
Voluntary Action Leeds
Last night (31 March) people involved with the Community Care Hubs gathered together to mark the end of the official Hub response to the pandemic and the end of an era.
Fittingly the event was held at the Holbeck, where the theatre company Slung Low are based – back in March 2020 they (temporarily) left their usual business behind to become a Community Hub.
It was a night to celebrate what had been achieved by communities, volunteers, third sector organisations and the Council working together in partnership to provide a lifeline to people in the most difficult of times.
Over curry and a few drinks, it gave people from across the city a chance to meet in person – to see more of one another than just the head and shoulders we have got so used to seeing on Zoom calls.
It reminded me of the early days of setting up the Hubs as a citywide response. Zoom back then was a new tool and myself and colleagues from LCC ran a session for over thirty organisations to put the idea of the Hub model to them and ask who was interested in getting involved. It was in at the deep end for me in terms of using Zoom, but amazingly the Hub network was up and running just days later.
In one of the speeches, Chris Hollins the Chair of VAL remembered a conversation he had with Richard Jackson, VAL’s Chief Officer at that time, where Richard had told him that, confidentially, the situation with Covid might last for another three months – and here we are over two years later.
People acknowledged that the system had been developed quickly, and we didn’t always get everything right at the start. However, from an initial citywide response that often felt ‘top down’, a system evolved that saw communities working with Hubs, as locally trusted organisations, in charge of shaping activities that met local needs.
Whilst it may be the end of the Community Care Hub response, we know it is not the end of challenges that we face as a city and within communities, as the cost-of-living crisis begins to impact on top of existing poverty and inequality. That’s why we need to build on the response to Covid and continue to develop ways of working that enable communities to take the lead – which is what the Community Anchor Network is all about.
Last night left us in no doubt that the city’s response to Covid, led by third sector organisations working with their communities, leaves an incredible legacy and opportunities for the future – and it was great to be able to pause for a moment and celebrate that fact together.
Hannah Bailey, interim Chief Officer at Voluntary Action Leeds
Find out more about the Community Care Hubs here.
Find out more about the Community Anchor Network here.