It only seems a short time since I wrote the last monthly blog; well, much shorter than a month ago at least!
Whilst we all now seem reasonably well versed with working from home after three months of getting used to it, it can feel quite intensive at times. Without the breaks, chats, meetings and other usual interruptions of the normal office environment, it is very easy at times to work solidly without taking a break, yet it is so important to take time out regularly. I know those of you with young children at home in particular are probably laughing at this as you are no doubt working around supporting your children and are always taking breaks and working unusual hours as a result.
For those of you who are currently furloughed this also presents anxieties and uncertainties. It is certainly not straightforward or easy for anyone, and I hope you are all managing in your own way to meet work, family and other demands as well as look after your own health and well-being.
Early in the month I attended a webinar on digital inclusion. One of the issues COVID-19 has raised is the impact on people of digital exclusion in terms of an inability to access support, to assist children’s learning, and the increased loneliness amongst some of our most vulnerable residents.
And it is not just poverty that results in barriers to accessing technology, there are parts of Northumberland where the availability of broadband is very poor, and some people have concerns about safety and safeguarding in terms of using technology and are therefore reluctant to engage, whilst others simply do not want to be part of the digital revolution.
COVID-19 has certainly forced a cultural change for many in terms of using technology and those of us who do use it, have had to become more tech savvy with video conferencing for example.
All of these are certainly issues which will need to be addressed in the future in terms of training and accessibility to provision.
Thanks to those VCS organisations that provided me with information about the economic impacts of COVID-19 on their organisation, which were very sobering, although not unsurprising. It is vital that we inform and get the messages out to decision makers about the way the sector is being impacted by the pandemic. Drawing on national and local information and data and on the examples you provided, we hope that we have raised awareness of the significant impact COVID-19 is having on the sector in Northumberland and the need for financial support. Northumberland VCS Assembly’s Economic Impact of COVID-19 report and a summary report can be downloaded from the Information Centre.
Whilst we cannot hold network meetings in their usual form, we are planning to hold more Zoom network meetings in the near future. We’ll be advertising them in the usual ways, so please do join us to participate and share your views.
Take care and keep safe.
Assembly Development Officer