These last three months of reacting to the Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on our neighbourhoods and communities. We have been faced with questions and concerns we could not have even imagined and we approach the summer with many uncertainties ahead. Yet, people’s warmth and compassion, understanding and action in responding to such unprecedented need are the lasting tribute to the community’s compassion and resilience. Thank you all.

Local Trust continues to support the 150 areas through help with online networking and events and is holding Big Local Connects online from 9-11 July. Any likely Covid-19 related funding is flagged up such as the Emerging Futures Fund. We share local issues and action to influence wider policy, stressing how Big Local succeeds through strong local relationships, responding to community need, open communication with residents, collaboration and partnership.

Priorities and achievements looking back: running things well, communicating success, networking with local groups and responding swiftly and effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Running things

The partnership continues to meet monthly with sound support from the Local Trusted Organisation, Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire. Finances are reviewed each month and headline figures displayed on the spend barometer on the website. Quarterly reports from partners were reviewed in April. All were approved. These are posted to the website. These provide the evidence of outcomes and impact through stories of action and change and in newsletters delivered to every household. The latest was distributed just before lockdown.

Doing things

The worker has been in touch with all funded partners, conveying that the partnership seeks a flexible and supportive approach during the crisis. For example, the key worker with Arts for Dementia has been sending out activity packs to group members and keeping in touch with them by telephone, while Samaritans has been busier than ever. Boston Big Local resident partnership member, Mark Baker, has been appointed their new director.

Activities and projects continue, with some adjustments and moves to online meetings. Other projects have been put on hold for the time being, such as the environment volunteer co-ordinator. This time has been stressful for many people’s mental health and Boston Big Local continues its support to residents in these changed circumstances.

Further backing was given to Emma Whitton, from Boston High School, by contributing funding towards Polypropylene sheets to produce head visors. So far, she has made 3,200 visors and used all of the material purchase. She has supported hospital wards, GP surgeries, pharmacies, emergency dentists, many care homes, home carer companies, hospices and two schools.

Through Boston Big Local, local groups are being helped to stay in touch and share ideas about how to adapt services and respond to changing need during the pandemic. Two online virtual coffee mornings have been held, the first with 23 people. The second included guest speakers from two local organisations who have adapted services to continue to provide support to their service users. Partnerships sprang up during the meeting itself!  Groups fed back their thanks to Boston Big Local for its support during this difficult time.

Key priorities looking ahead

Boston Big Local will keep abreast of Covid-related changes and challenges, continuing the community conversation in the autumn to help give shape to the draft plan. It still hopes to run a deferred Boston Big Local celebration and AGM.

Boston Big Local agreed with the council’s decision to cancel events over the summer, saving on cancellation penalties. The group is open to exploring opportunities later in the year to fund other events as and when restrictions on public gatherings are eased.

Always exploring new ideas, the partnership has been considering funding the creation of Boston Heritage Trumps, a board game focusing on the town’s heritage. The background work has been led by the chair, Richard Tory.

Key achievements, success factors and insights into what has worked well

Boston Big Local has kept on the ball and committed to its vision and priorities. It remains alert and responsive to community need, using its plan as a framework to build on, not a straightjacket to restrain movement. Boston Big Local has continued to work well through online conferencing and engaging with partners.