‘New Normal' Lessons from lockdown research in North East Fife

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NORTH East Fife’s Community Development team are using Action Research from local people’s experiences of lockdown to shape how they might provide future services in the area.

The team worked in partnership with Professor Karen McArdle, an Emeritus Professor at Aberdeen University to find out real experiences of lockdown and how people coped during the height of the COVID pandemic.

Based on the feedback from those receiving emergency food deliveries and hardship funding, they found that there are high levels of social isolation, loneliness and rural poverty, which are often hidden in small rural communities within North East Fife.

Team Manager for Community Development, Sheena Watson said, "We have been aware for some time now that there is a great deal of social isolation and poverty in North East Fife which is hidden in small rural communities or within larger towns commonly perceived as more affluent because of their tourist qualities.  We are hoping to use these findings to provide better services for those who find themselves in challenging circumstances and to address those commonly held misconceptions of North East Fife as an affluent area for all who live here.

“The purpose of the research was to find out how we might take local people’s reality during lockdown and use their views and feedback to provide services more effectively and perhaps in a different way that is more tailored to their circumstances.  For instance, we found that many of those taking part in the Action Research would have preferred a cash first response instead of food parcels.”

The research from North East Fife was featured in a seminar organised by Policy Scotland & TSRF (Third Sector Research Forum) at the University of Glasgow this week to discuss what the ‘new normal’ should look like.

Professor McArdle said, “The outcomes from the seminar and this research will inform government decisions at both local and national level.  In North East Fife, this will mean recommending investment in communities at local level where we hope to assist people to cope in the aftermath of Covid 19 whilst fostering community spirit and resilience.”


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