Inside Housing – Commentary – COVID-19 inspired our new project to collect better data on communities

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Cheryl Garvey explains how the pandemic has inspired a new data collection project at the Bournville Village Trust, to uncover the issues facing neighborhoods and plan a response

Pie N Mash, a self-help community support project that distributes food and clothing (Photo: Alamy)

Pie N Mash, a self-help community support project that distributes food and clothing (Photo: Alamy)

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[email protected]_Garvey explains how the pandemic has inspired a new data collection project at @BVTNews, to uncover the issues facing neighborhoods and plan a #UKhousing response


It has now been more than two years since the country first entered lockdown. It has been an incredibly anxious time filled with uncertainty and fear for us as individuals, our residents and the sector. Yet we have also seen community spirit flourish, both in our organizations and in the neighborhoods where we work.

Although the pandemic may have separated us physically, you could argue that our relationships with residents and communities have grown stronger as a result. As residents turned to us for help, the health and wealth inequities of our communities become more transparent. In response, many housing associations across the country have stepped in, delivering food and medicine, setting up new services with voluntary and statutory partners and helping the most vulnerable to just keep going.

“The project will allow us to take the data we have collected and work with residents and organizations operating in our communities, from schools and colleges to churches and playgroups, to explore emerging issues and how best to solve them”

As the dust settles on the pandemic, with the prospect of further closures extremely unlikely, do we know how our communities are faring today and what can we do to build on the progress made during the pandemic to build stronger communities ?



At first glance, our communities are currently facing obvious problems: rising energy bills and the cost of living, the financial impact of the removal of the Universal Credit hike, and increased downtimes. waiting for health care.

Yet how many of us scratch under the headlines to understand the full picture of the issues our communities are facing now and may be facing in the future? Do we know if our communities are aging? Are violent crimes higher in our communities than regional averages? How many single parent families are there?

At Bournville Village Trust, we did not know the answers to these questions.

“The plans will enable us to paint a true picture of each neighborhood that clearly shows what life is like for the people who live there and to meet the needs and aspirations of residents, either directly or by working with others”

That’s why we launched a project last year to get to know our communities better, starting with collecting as much data as possible to learn more about them. This was the first step in our neighborhood development project. The project will allow us to take the data we have collected and work with residents and organizations operating in our communities, from schools and colleges to churches and playgroups, to explore emerging issues and how best to address them. Our goal is to develop tailored action plans for the dozen communities in which we work that meet the individual needs of each neighborhood.

We will not be equipped, or even best placed, to provide everything our communities need. There are organizations that are already doing fantastic work and have incredible relationships with people in our communities. Yet the plans will allow us to paint an accurate portrait of each neighborhood that clearly shows what life is like for the people who live there and which, in turn, meets the needs and aspirations of residents, either directly or in collaboration with others.

With the government’s Leveling Up white paper pledging to bring real change to cities by tackling neglected and undervalued communities, now is the time for us to dig deeper to truly understand the neighborhoods we serve. .

COVID-19 may have been a driving force in bringing us closer to our communities, but it is the consequences of the pandemic that could help us create sustainable and thriving communities.

Cheryl Garvey, Community Development Manager, Bournville Village Trust

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