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Community Council COVID-19 Responses

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected how community councils are operating but they are still carrying out great work helping their communities at this difficult time. We are hearing some great responses from CCs across the country and this section of the website aims to highlight lots of positive examples of the work CCs are doing to support the Covid-19 response.


If you know of any of your CCs whose work you think should be included please contact: scottishccs@improvementservice.org.uk

  • Joint Resilience Programme for Two Community Councils (Aberdeen)

    Culter Community CouncilTwo Community Councils in Aberdeen - Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber Community Council and Culter Community Council - rallied together and put in place a joint Covid-19 resilience programme.


    The plan provides their communities with information on what to do in emergencies and encourages people to volunteer to carry out tasks such as driving, delivering emergency supplies and checking on vulnerable residents.


    As part of the resilience plan there is also a household emergency plan which provides important phone numbers and encourages residents to add their own useful information to the document.


    Both community councils appealed to their communities and asked volunteers to complete online forms with details on how people could help during Covid-19. They also provided a separate online form to be completed by those residents considered at increased risk and this allowed the resilience team to create a list of residents who may need assistance during this period.


    Find out more:

    Cults, Bieldside and Milltimber Community Council

    Culter Community Council

  • Food Bags Deliveries (Clackmannanshire)

    Menstrie Community Council have been organising food bags and delivering them to those most in need in their communities.  In addition to their food bag deliveries they also organised VE day afternoon tea parcels supported by Scotmid, Morrisons Stirling, Clacks Third Sector Interface and Holm Pharm Chemists.  They delivered 130 bags to elderly and self-isolating residents around Menstrie over two days.


    The parcels also contained important information including useful phone numbers, further offers of help and how to get in touch.


    Find out more:

    Menstrie Community Council website



  • Coronavirus Dollar Support Service (Clackmannanshire)

    Along with the Development Trust and the Dollar volunteer driver service, Dollar Community Council have formed into a well organised support group for those self-isolating. They are offering shopping and pharmacy pick up and social support.


    They have engaged help from the Stirling Food Train and with support from the Co-op they set up a food bank in the Hive (community centre).


    Dollar Community Council are giving financial support for these efforts from their own limited reserves.


    Find out more:

    Dollar Community Council Website


  • Community Response (Clackmannanshire)

    Tillicoultry, Coalsnaughton and Devonside Community Council (TCD CC) reached out to their community to seek support to meet the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately thirty community members answered the call to meet the needs of others.


    TCDCC directed that amazing commitment to where it will be of most use within a robust infrastructure created to ensure the safety of both community volunteers and the vulnerable individuals they may support.


    Volunteers now help their community through:


    • supervising queues at the entrance to Macks Pharmacy
    • being part of a rota manning the dedicated phone number for local people to ring to let them know how they need support.
    • gathering pictures and cards created by local school and nursery children to distribute to anyone who falls ill and to residents of care homes, sheltered housing, etc.


    Find out more:

    Tillicoultry, Coalsnaughton and Devonside Community Council Website


  • Dundee Thegither

    Dundee City Centre & Harbour Community Council has worked closely with Dundee Thegither, a small effective group of volunteers providing food, information and a listening ear to those in need during the Covid-19 crisis.


    The group hit the ground running and it took time for them to set up a bank account. The community council helped with both by applying to various funders on their behalf and by channelling money from charities and local trusts.


    The community council were also instrumental in obtaining funding for a 30 metre mural adjacent to the V&A museum which was completed two days before the lockdown.  The mural has lifted the spirits of many walkers and cyclists using the popular waterfront route.


    For more information:

    Dundee City Centre & Harbour Community Council

    Dundee Thegither

  • Benholm and Johnshaven Community Larder (Aberdeenshire)

    Benholm and Johnshaven Community LarderBenholm and Johnshaven Community Council opened a Community Larder at Johnshaven Village Hall to support people in their community affected physically, financially or emotionally by Covid-19.


    In the beginning the larder offered a limited supply of canned and dried food stuffs free of charge to those in need provided by the Fareshare food initiative. They supplemented this with donations and fresh fruit, veg and eggs thanks to funding from Aberdeenshire Council's Community Resilience Fund.


    Although primarily supplying food the larder also provides basic toiletries, cleaning products, and nappies. In addition activity packs are available for children and art and craft materials for anyone looking for something to do during lockdown. Organisers are keen to find other ways of reducing the boredom and anxiety that can be experienced when self-isolating for long periods of time.


    The community have also been encouraged to make quilt squares to form part of a community quilt on the theme of ‘our wonderful village’ with packs of assorted fabric. Children in the community also have the opportunity to make bunting to be used to decorate the village hall.


    Open on a Tuesday morning and Thursday evening the larder has social distancing measures in place. Anyone in the community self-isolating  or unable to attend the larder can get in touch and have items delivered. A team of local volunteers is also available to help residents with anything from picking up prescriptions, posting items, dog-walking, delivering shopping etc.


    The Community Council recently announced they have secured further funding to continue the larder for the months ahead from both Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks' Resilient Communities Fund and Foundation Scotland's Community Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund.


    Find out more:

    Benholm and Johnshaven Community Council Facebook

    Fareshare Initiative

    Aberdeenshire Council's Community Resilience Fund

    Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks' Resilient Communities Fund

    Foundation Scotland's Community Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund


  • Kindness Packs in the Raploch (Stirling)

    Kindness packs by Raploch Community CouncilRaploch Community Council in Stirling have been working closely with local partners to respond to community needs in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


    Members of the CC have mobilised and are actively volunteering to meet local needs, including delivering a range of ‘keep in touch’ signposting and linking in with the local Third Sector Resilience Group to make sure services reach those most in need.


    The CC have also donated funds to local community-led regeneration charity Raploch Community Partnership to contribute to their kindness packs which have been distributed by volunteers to local children and families and which contained a range of basic activities.


    Raploch Community Partnership have now secured additional funding to roll this out to other priority areas in Stirling.


    For more information:

    Raploch Community Council Twitter

    Raploch Community Partnership Facebook

    Raploch Corner

  • Cromar Community Help (Aberdeenshire)

    Top to bottom: Professor Dave Harper; Shona Pearson making a collection from Tarland convenience store; volunteer Kate Redpath delivers shoppingCromar Community Council working with the charity Cromar Future Group has developed a customised website to provide local information and updates from Aberdeenshire Council and the UK and Scottish Governments.


    To support those in their community who need help during Covid-19 the CC also worked with Cromar Future Group to develop a management application for assisting the work of volunteers doing shopping and deliveries in their local area. This provides maps of the location when the delivery is needed plus photographs where these can be helpful to a new driver. All designed to work on a smartphone.


    The Cromar Community Help group was formed between Cromar Community Council, the Tarland Development Group, Marr Area Partnership and a group of over fifty volunteers in the communities of Tarland and Coull.


    The group has been providing a variety of services to help people in their community which include picking up shopping, arranging the postage of packages, parcels and letters, delivering newspapers and picking up and delivering prescriptions.


    Cromar CC have also taken their meetings online during Covid-19 and encourage other groups in the community to do the same by using their GoToMeeting video conferencing software. The CC have offered to train volunteers from other groups on how to setup and host their events.


    For more information:

    Cromar Community Council Website

    Cromar Community Council Facebook

    Cromar Community Help

    Cromar Future Group

  • Crail Community Council’s Covid-19 Response (Fife)

    Crail HarbourCrail Harbour. Credit: Colin MorrisonFrom the beginning of lockdown The Royal Burgh of Crail and District Community Council recruited volunteers to make deliveries from local shops and also implemented a dedicated phone number that people can call or text for information and also to volunteer assistance. The number is also accessible via WhatsApp.


    The Community Council (CC) also collated details of local shop opening times and ordering arrangements which are published in the weekly newsletter Crail Matters.


    Facilitated by the Royal Burgh of Crail and District Community Council and funded by Crail Matters, 400 face coverings were made and distributed free in the community via Crail Pharmacy.


    The CC also appealed for young volunteers who would be willing to deliver papers, milk, etc. to those in the community who may need support.

    Funding to enable the CC to respond appropriately to the Covid-19 crisis was received from the Crail Settlement Trust.


    For more information:

    The Royal Burgh of Crail and District Community Council website

  • How a Community Council in Shetland is supporting their community during Covid-19

    Katie (6) and Fraser Geddes (8) helped out with delivering leaflets provided by local company Art Machine Shetland.A Community Council in Shetland are able to provide funding to groups and charities supporting people in their community through the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities fund.


    Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh Community Council were awarded a £12,000 coronavirus support grant which they are using to help vulnerable people in their community.  This includes providing home cooked meals, emergency food packs and even some iPads for care residents.


    The Community Council (CC) has been letting people know what support is available in the area and its also been looking for potential volunteers to help out.


    The CC is providing a donation to Shetland Foodbank as well as funds for Shetland Women’s Aid to help pay for Wi-Fi installation in its refuge. Funds will also be put towards supermarket and electricity vouchers for people arriving in the refuge and go towards the production of support/wellbeing packs for clients who are unable to meet face to face.


    Some iPads have also been purchased for the Overtonlea care centre to be used by residents to stay in touch with family and friends as they have not been able to receive visitors during lockdown.  A care at home goody bag and a ‘keeping connected’ CD of songs is also being provided.  The iPads were sourced from local company The Apple Cart.


    Amanda Malcolmson, Team Leader - Overtonlea Services, receiving iPads purchased by the CC on their behalf.Cunningsburgh cafe and local farm shop Mackenzie’s cook and supply 20 free ‘home-cooked’ meals every week which are delivered by volunteers to vulnerable residents, key workers and those living alone.


    Chairperson Kerry Geddes tells us more: “People have been really looking forward to their Friday lunch and the portions are so big some individuals have been keeping half of it for Saturday too. While there will be some who are unable to purchase food or cook for themselves who benefit from the meals, we have a lot of people who are getting them simply because they are lonely, missing out on family dinners or are stressed and worried because of the pandemic. We have had a few cancer patients who have benefitted, as well as some people who are cared for by relatives - the meal gives their carers a break as well as letting the folk themselves know that they have friends or neighbours who are still thinking of them.”


    Emergency food and hygiene packs for people going in or out of hospital are also available as well as packs for families with babies.


    Mobile phone vouchers and electricity tokens supported by local shop Mackenzie’s and Sound Service Station have been delivered by groups of volunteers in each area too.  The volunteers carry out the deliveries as part of their daily exercise as they visit each home to explain what help is available whilst observing social distancing guidelines.


    A leaflet is also delivered to every household in the CC’s area once a month with the latest information.  The CC uses local companies as much as possible to support them during the pandemic and the leaflets were designed and printed by Art Machine Shetland.


    A rota of volunteers have also been on the end of newly purchased mobile phones in each of the CCs three areas - they take phone calls for help or assistance and they are also there just to listen.


    Chairperson Kerry Geddes said: “With the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and staff at Shetland Islands Council Community Development we were able to pull together a few schemes and projects which we thought would be of most benefit to people in our community and fortunately we were successful in our bid for a grant from the Supporting Communities Fund.


    “Shetlanders have always been reluctant to ask for help but the fact that you can be nominated by a friend, colleague, neighbour or family member or referred by any group, charity or official means our uptake has been growing.”


    “We have been able to support several local organisations and charities already supporting vulnerable people in our community, but also came up with our own ideas for projects. Local shops have been really supportive in schemes to get emergency food packs, fuel vouchers and mobile phone top ups out, and our hot meals on Fridays has been immensely popular, so much so it has been extended into another district.”


    For more information:

    Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh Community Council website

    Gulberwick, Quarff & Cunningsburgh Community Council Facebook

    Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund

    Highlands and Islands Enterprise Shetland

    Mackenzies Farm Shop and Café Facebook

    Art Machine Shetland website

    Shetland Food Bank Facebook

    Shetland Women’s Aid website

    Sound Service Station Facebook

  • PH8 Business Group – Dunkeld and Birnam CC (Perth and Kinross)

    Dunkeld & Birnam responded to the Covid-19 crisis by setting up a volunteer group, using the PH8 postcode prefix to set its boundaries and to give it a clear brand.


    Led by the chair of the community council, Stuart Paton, the PH8 Volunteer Team had cross sectoral representation, including businesses from the outset, with around 110 volunteers out of a population of only 1,300.


    Clear communication was critical and the group drew heavily on the Facebook pages of the local community and Dunkeld & Birnam Community Council. The local community newsletter, The Bridge, also played a major role in getting news out to all age groups within the area with 6 special Covid emergency editions.


    The first phase of action from the PH8 Volunteer Team was to protect the community members and ensure that everybody could get the essential supplies that they needed such as food, prescriptions and hand sanitiser.  A number of community members also contacted the group offering to make financial donations to help everything run smoothly.


    A community Crowdfunder project was set up, raising nearly £4K with an additional £3K coming in by cheque. This pot of funds helped to pay for fortnightly editions of the local newsletter to every home, covered volunteer costs and various other minor expenses. Community larders were set up in disused phone boxes and a confidential community hardship fund helped those struggling financially.


    Businesses offered to prepare food although there was limited uptake from the vulnerable/shielding members of the community as they are fiercely independent. Shops offered priority shopping times and worked together to run joint delivery services. Other business offers included accommodation for emergency workers, supply of PPE and bed loans for the local nursing home, loan of rental bikes and e-bikes as well as food prep and delivery for vulnerable groups. The local co-working space opened its printing facilities up to school pupils.

    The second phase was to get the businesses to work together to get a joined up economic recovery. The PH8 Business Facebook page was setup, other businesses in the area were contacted and encouraged to engage and Zoom was used to hold virtual meetings to share best practice.


    Recognising that tourism is a significant part of their economy the group knew they needed visitors BUT, also knew that a lot of older people in their community needed to be protected. So they crafted a notice aimed at potential visitors with a message saying -  let’s take it slowly and please stick to the rules. A school pupil designed a poster encouraging shoppers to wear face coverings.


    Now, in August 2020, most businesses have now reopened and visitor numbers to the area have increased hugely. The shopping service has been suspended after demand dropped, apart from a couple of households, the same for cooked meals.


    The organisers are trying to ensure that the large pool of volunteers stay engaged so that they can quickly respond to any local outbreaks without having to start from scratch again.


    A small group has been tasked with setting up terms of reference for looking at a community profile plan to take the area forward, perhaps through a community action plan.


    You can contact Dunkeld and Birnam CC via e-mail.


    For more information:

    Dunkeld & Birnam Community Council Facebook Page

    Dunkeld & Birnam COVID-19 Community Response Crowdfunder

    PH8 Business Facebook Group

    Dunkeld & Birnam Tourist Association website

  • How Gorgie Dalry Community Council has responded to Covid-19 (Edinburgh)

    The communities of Gorgie and Dalry in Edinburgh are represented by Gorgie Dalry Community Council (GDCC).  GDCC Communication Officer Laura Wise, and GDCC Engagement Officer Mathew Reilly have written about how their CC has worked to tackle some of the challenges raised by Covid-19 in their communities.


    Gorgie Dalry Community Council has, like many other community groups, worked hard throughout lockdown and beyond to support our community since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this post we outline some of the key areas and activities that GDCC Councillors have undertaken to respond to the unprecedented situation as it unfolded, and how we have adapted our normal ways of working. Whilst at times this has been challenging, particularly to balance our own personal circumstances with often fast-changing situations, we have also been incredibly heartened by our community’s consideration and efforts to support one-another, and by people’s increased awareness of and re-engagement with the GDCC.


    Reaching Offline Residents with Tesco Bags of Help Funding


    After GDCC meetings switched from in-person to online as a consequence of lockdown, we were aware that although residents could dial into meetings using their landlines or mobile phones, digitally excluded residents might not be aware of meeting dates and how to do that. As we did not want to put any of the community councillors’ private phone numbers into the public domain, we successfully applied to the Tesco Bags of Help COVID-19 Communities Fund for £500 to purchase a dedicated GDCC mobile phone, 6 months’ credit, and fund a poster and flyer campaign to advertise the new phone number (07835 908 453).


    Since being awarded the funding, GD Community Councillors have distributed posters to shops, cafes, pubs and other businesses along Gorgie Road, Dalry Road, and Henderson Terrace, and are continuing to roll out posters across community noticeboards. We would like to thank all of the local businesses and community groups who have supported this initiative, and also extend our thanks to Connor McNally from Big Hearts for distributing flyers to residences across the area.


    Consulting Locals about Spaces for People


    During the City of Edinburgh Council’s (CEC) consultation for the new measures to be rolled out as part of the “Spaces for People” initiative, people could submit suggested temporary measures using the Commonplace interactive map.


    Following correspondence from residents and discussion at our May public meeting however, before this tool was even launched, we had already decided to set up our own simple online survey, that we shared across all our platforms, as we were concerned that the 5 days consultation period proposed by the CEC was not long enough to canvas local responses.


    Despite the tight turnaround (due to the CEC deadline on the main consultation) we managed to gain 74 responses to the survey in just a few days. We submitted our results to CEC on 11th May 2020. One of the key findings of the survey was that 98.6% of our 74 survey respondents thought that pavements in the area are too narrow to socially distance. We continue to make the plans and details of the scheme available to residents by actively monitoring changes and publishing regular updates on our website. We are also still consulting residents and feeding back comments to the CEC Spaces for People team.


    A GDCC poster in a shop window. Credit: GDCCExtended pavement - part of the Spaces for People scheme. Credit: GDCCPoster from the GDCC Community Gallery. Credit: Lauren (@laurenjs164)Spider's web - discovering nature in Gorgie and Dalry. Credit: GDCCTweet from Edinburgh Napier University. Credit: GDCC/TwitterSupporting the local food banks. Credit: GDCCA GDCC poster in a shop window. Credit: GDCCExtended pavement - part of the Spaces for People scheme. Credit: GDCCPoster from the GDCC Community Gallery. Credit: Lauren (@laurenjs164). The author has given us permission to share the photos here, but please do not republish or reproduce without requesting permission of the author via gorgiedalrycommunitycouncil@gmail.comGreenspace in Gorgie Dalry. Credit: GDCCSpider's web - discovering nature in Gorgie and Dalry. Credit: GDCCTweet from Edinburgh Napier University. Credit: GDCC/TwitterPoster from the Forever Edinburgh campaign/ Image credit: Forever EdinburghSupporting the local food banks. Credit: GDCC1 - 8<>

    Setting up a ‘Looking Back at Lockdown’ Online Community Gallery


    In August 2020, as we were emerging out of lockdown, we asked residents of Gorgie and Dalry to send us pictures of what our area looked like to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight residents sent us their varied perspectives of life in Gorgie, Dalry, and on the boundaries of our area, including dugs “socially distancing” in Murieston Park, the Dalry Cemetery gatehouse, reduced traffic on Wardlaw Place, the Caledonian Brewery from a lockdown walk, and flowers in bloom in Saughton and Dalry Community Parks. We published these as the ‘Looking Back at Lockdown in Gorgie and Dalry – Community Gallery’ on our website and shared the submissions across our social media channels. Thank you to everyone who sent us their pictures!


    Supporting Local Foodbanks


    At the emergency GDCC members meeting held in March to discuss the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown, members agreed to support 3 local food banks that were distributing emergency food parcels during lockdown: LOVE Gorgie Farm, Tynecastle High School (supported by the BMC) and Salvation Army Gorgie. GDCC donated a total of £200 worth of goods that GDCC Community Councillor Moira MacKirdy delivered to the three foodbanks.


    We also continue to use our social media platforms to support fundraising efforts of all local food banks and circulate requests for donations. Using our social media channels, we also received requests from residents for support with shopping and collecting prescriptions, and we liaised with local supermarkets and mutual-aid groups to ensure that vulnerable residents were receiving the help that they needed during lockdown. We would like to acknowledge the huge emergency effort from volunteers and residents across our community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and say a huge thank you to everyone who has stepped up to support our community at this difficult time.


    Engaging with the Shop Local and #ForeverEdinburgh Campaigns


    In September 2020, several GDCC Councillors attended an online meeting with Council officers from the Business Growth and Inclusion team at the City of Edinburgh Council to discuss the Council’s plans for a Shop Local framework, which provides practical advice on adapting to new ways of working, introducing physical distancing, health protection measures and adequate signage (with up to date information), making changes to how payments are taken, and using digital communications and resourcing. GDCC Councillors shared our insights on what kinds of businesses are in our area, what draws people to visit Gorgie and Dalry, and gave some initial feedback on the #ForeverEdinburgh campaign and some of the potential ideas for the Shop Local framework to support the CEC in developing a framework that is relevant to the needs of local businesses in our area.


    We were pleased to hear that our concerns previously expressed to the CEC that the #ForeverEdinburgh campaign had overlooked our area was being taken seriously. We continue to engage with these #ScotlandLovesLocal, #SupportLocal and #ForeverEdinburgh campaigns to champion local independent businesses on our social media channels, and have plans to develop these campaigns locally in 2021. During our days of distributing our meeting information posters to local businesses, we chatted with local business owners to make sure they know that the GDCC is here to support and represent them too, and to see how they are managing since lockdown was eased.


    Reaching Out to Students during Local Lockdowns


    In September 2020 there were multiple outbreaks of Covid-19 across student accommodation halls at universities in Scotland, including in Edinburgh. Whilst neither of the student halls in our area have announced outbreaks at the time of writing, on the 24th of September we decided to take pre-emptive action to make sure that students as new residents knew how to access local support in case of self-isolation, or mental health support following the introduction of new restrictions for university students.


    Within 24 hours, thanks to the support of local printing business the Hotspot Internet cafe on Gorgie Road, the Tesco Bags of Help funding, and with keen responses from residents in the Coronavirus Support – Balgreen, Gorgie, Murrayfield + Facebook group, GDCC Councillors delivered welcome letters with contact information of mutual aid groups, Volunteering Edinburgh, and mental health helplines to all flats (approximately 70 flats) in the Mill House accommodation on Gorgie Road, and the Edinburgh Napier University accommodation on Orwell Terrace, and also to the Nido student accommodation on West Park Place and Student Cribs accommodation on Morrison Circus.


    Edinburgh Napier University later tweeted their appreciation and thanks, and the initiative was welcomed by Edinburgh residents and a neighbouring community council on social media.


    Accelerating our Plans to Refresh Our Communications


    Prior to March 2020 the GDCC website and social media channels were primarily used for publishing meeting agendas and minutes, and information regarding planning applications and the Christmas lights switch on. We accelerated this planned revamp in response to the Covid-19 crisis, and since March 2020 we have undertaken a complete revamp of the structure and content of the GDCC website, to make it a one-stop shop for residents and visitors interested in our community to access information, links to support services, to participate in surveys and consultations, and to showcase the positive aspects of living in Gorgie and Dalry.


    During lockdown we also began featuring guest posts on the GDCC website, that bring and share new perspectives on life in our community, and we welcome submissions! Local resident and nature lover Juliet Wilson wrote about ‘Discovering the Nature of Gorgie and Dalry during Lockdown’, in which she shared the magic of discovering the drama and diversity of nature right on her doorstep during lockdown. In ‘Dalry Community Park: From Train Station to Local Greenspace’, GDCC Treasurer Alex McKendrick reflected on the history of community efforts to save Dalry Community Park, and what the Roseburn to Union Canal Active Travel Route scheme means for this valued local greenspace.


    Looking Forward to 2021


    2020 has tested us like never before, but we have been really encouraged by the community response to our activities and efforts this year. At the GDCC AGM in October we presented a list of potential plans for the rest of 2020 into 2021, that take into account continued restrictions, and having to adapt to constantly changing circumstances. Crucially, the Gorgie Dalry community has pulled together during a time of crisis, and we hope that this newfound level of engagement with the GDCC continues past this current crisis.


    To get involved with our plans for 2021, read our full Engagement Report below, or let us know your ideas by emailing gorgiedalrycommunitycouncil@gmail.com


    GDCC 2020 Annual Engagement Report

  • Community Council Data Mapping for Resilience and Emergencies (Scottish Borders)

    In these strange times, we are beginning to see the true importance and impact of (both good and bad) data coming to the fore. And, all of that data that has become so crucial, has geography at its core. Many geospatial data experts have been making the point about how important good and accurate data is and how it requires careful resourcing and maintenance for years. It has taken a global health pandemic to really get that message through – which is slightly ironic given that the first use and analysis of geospatial data happened over 150 years ago when John Snow was identifying his Cholera water pump in Soho.


    Another aspect of our current crisis that has come under the spotlight are our communities and how they respond collectively to these emerging threats. Community Councils, being the lowest tier of administration and yet most closely connected to our citizens, potentially play a crucial role in bringing communities together and communicating what is going on and where people can go for support and help.


    Over the course of the Covid crisis several community councils have shown how data and mapping capability can be used to great effect to help engage and support local citizens.


    Gavinton, Fogo and Polwarth Community Council (GFPCC) is one such council. Here’s their story:


    At the start of lockdown in March, leaflets were hand delivered to all 250 households in the GFPCC area, to identify those needing help.  50 volunteers responded to this request.  Volunteers subsequently helped with shopping, delivery of prescriptions, and checks on people’s wellbeing, especially those shielding, self isolating, or known to be vulnerable.  A local farmer generously contributed a supply of fresh eggs.  It has been a heart warming effort, and very much appreciated by the community.


    From the start we deliberately organised our volunteers to operate largely independently.  We did not want each request for help to be made through a central clearing point, as this could result in blockages and delays in providing assistance.  We developed a successful model where volunteers made local arrangements with the handful of people they are supporting.  Some of our volunteers set up neighbourhood WhatsApp groups to coordinate at a very local level.  After receiving a request from NHS, SBC or through our website, we ensure that one or more of our volunteers pick up the task but then let them get on with it.


    To help the volunteers coordinate activities effectively, a Covid 19 response map, hosted on our community website, was developed.  This map, restricted to volunteers, shows where each volunteer lives, all residential properties, and reference to a separate and secure list of volunteers willing to share their email addresses with the group.  Volunteers then arrange response activities within their locality.  This is working really well.


    Covid 19 response maps were prepared for two other resilient community groups in Berwickshire.  One group leader reported that “I would fully support this [response map] as a valuable asset to any resilient group or hub.”  The Scottish Borders Council’s emergency planning officer plans to encourage the adoption of interactive maps for more resilient community groups in the Scottish Borders, both for ongoing and future emergencies.  A recent Scottish Rural Action report on the impact of Covid 19 on rural communities found that a lack of maps of ‘who lives where’ was ranked as a significant obstacle to response activities.


    Below is a view of our Gavinton response map, showing a few fictional locations (for privacy).  Online maps, viewed on computers or mobile devices, allow the user to zoom in and switch to an aerial view.


    We believe other CCs and resilient community groups would benefit from hosting interactive maps on their websites, and we would welcome the opportunity to share our mapping experience.


    Example of Gavinston response map


    Other maps are available on their website: https://www.gavinton.net/community-council/maps/


    Email info@gavinton.net if you’d like further information.


    Scottish Borders Council have 62 of their 69 Community Councils signed up to their Resilient Communities initiative. These Resilient Communities Groups (RCG’s) have carried out various support and assistance tasks within their communities, from providing hot meals, food & prescription deliveries, to simple befriending, a huge amount of varied tasks were completed, and the RCG’s provided feedback on the activities on a weekly basis.  View the Gavinton, Fogo & Polwarth CC’s Resilient Communities Plan.


    Emergency Planning Officer Jim Fraser said: “The RCG group in Berwickshire, Gavinton, Fogo & Polwarth has rightly challenged us with regard to the use of Local Authority GIS data and mapping and the interaction of both whilst responding to an emergency. We have tried to support this locally but we’re acutely aware that a national approach may be of more benefit and a proposed national geospatial mapping platform or project would be of great benefit to us and our local responders - we’d be more than willing to support this.


    "I have no doubt that the team at Gavinton, Fogo and Polwarth Community Council would be willing to assist and share their expertise and knowledge of how this mapping can be used locally.”


    There are a number of affordable and easy to use mapping tools that community groups are increasingly using to create maps like the above. Parish Online is one such tool that should soon be available in Scotland (albeit with a different name). This provides a very simple interface, with lots of useful Ordnance Survey and Local Authority data that can be used to communicate key messages and facilities to communities. It also allows the community to start mapping their own neighbourhood, for example, recording safety features like defibrillator locations and water life belts or recording the nature of fast moving emergency events like flooding.


    Another tool that is commonly used across the world for such mapping is ESRI’s ArcGIS online. This is a slightly more complex tool to use but allows more compelling and engaging ‘story maps’ to be created about specific geographic features in a community (see their gallery).


    If any community councils would like to learn more about how to start creating maps and data to help their local communities, do contact spatialhub@improvementservice.org.uk

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