Understanding the importance of community building during the COVID-19 pandemic

You’re feeling the effects of the pandemic, quarantines and social isolation acutely. You’re missing your people, your network and your community.

Sure, you’ve stayed in touch with those with whom you’re the closest, but your more distant ties are declining and so community engagement is critical to your overall wellbeing.

We’re all social animals and our instinct is to find strength in numbers. Yes, we appreciate a small circle of people, but we need larger circles as well. Yet despite the sweeping effects of the pandemic, we can strengthen and sustain community. When we are part of a thriving community, we feel a sense of kinship, camaraderie and connectedness. There is a place and a role for each person, and group members feel they can bring all of themselves to their work and their team.

man love people woman

Similarly, community engagement within health is also crucial to achieve primary healthcare and promote people-centred services. And, in times of a pandemic like the COVID-19, where there is uncertainty and fear, community has proven to be more important than ever. As physical distancing measures kick in all around the globe, we need to rely on those in our immediate circle for support, guidance, reliable information, solidarity, and empathy. Government acting alone cannot solve a global pandemic. And so, local governments must encourage and challenge residents to unleash their many talents to help their community cope in these difficult times because unless cities immediately begin to engage their residents and focus on building community, this crisis will overwhelm us.

Global health guidelines already emphasize the importance of community participation. Incorporating insights and ideas from diverse communities is central for the coproduction of health, whereby health professionals work together with communities to plan, research, deliver, and evaluate the best possible health promotion and health-care services. But in addition to providing proper health-care services, it is also crucial to pay importance to the mental well-being of our community members in times of crisis. People are losing their jobs, facing distress and uncertainty, feeling lost and unsure of what’s to come ahead. And so, community builders should also check in with their members individually and reach out to them consistently and regularly. It could be at a time or of content that they least expect, but that is why it is so powerful.

The covid-19 pandemic presented an unparalleled social threat to all levels of the society. But, among those most affected by the pandemic were older and medically vulnerable adults who required urgent assistance to meet their needs for food and medical supplies. Unfortunately, in the pandemic’s early stages, these needs often went unmet by local services. However, several communities did step in to provide practical and emotional support to these vulnerable residents. And their engagement exemplified a global upsurge in
volunteering activity, whereby individuals engaged in unprecedented levels of locale-based organized helping activities via community-based mutual aid groups.

We are craving community and cannot live our best lives without it. Our mental and our physical health literally depend on being part of strong and capable communities. The physical distance and also the screen between the
communications already are barriers to communicating as effectively as face-to-face interaction during this global pandemic. But being able to present the situation as a common cause to increase solidarity of “being in the same boat” definitely helps with connecting on a deeper level. And so, we must constantly remind ourselves how much we matter, and take actions to strengthen and sustain our community.

-Shivangi Kharbanda

Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not reflect the views of WriteFluence.in. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and WriteFluence does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.

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