Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider embedding Neighbourhood Community Psychologists to enhance recovery and resilience building in communities

The pandemic has highlighted the multitude of ways that community action has supported resilience (see TMB Issue 30). The British Psychological Society (BPS) recognises that although this is very much the case, it is critical that we don’t overlook those communities who have “long faced and struggled to overcome adversity”. As with many other impacts of the pandemic, the psychological impacts vary significantly in “scale and social distribution”. Those who have limited local/neighbourhood connections have been found to be more socially, economically and clinically vulnerable to psychological strain and distress. The BPS have provided guidance on the potential benefits and possibilities of appointing a Neighbourhood Community Psychologist which may be of use to local government teams, civil society organisations/other community workers. Consider embedding psychologists in local authorities to:

  • Improve community engagement and prevent distress by co-creating with local communities, and to research and provide the evidence base for preventative interventions to improve community health
  • Bring distinct knowledge, skills, and capabilities, such as:
    • Extensive theoretical and evidence-based knowledge and understanding with regards to behaviour and experiences in various contexts e.g. social, cultural, policy and politics
    • Understanding of important forms of capital (social, economic, cultural) and factors of place that affect people’s lives
    • Experience of directly working with individuals, groups and across organisational boundaries, with abilities to work with and balance power, conflict and diversity
    • Co-designing research that tackles complex societal challenges and places reflection and learning at the heart of practice

The guidance helpfully offers a job description which could be used in full to create a new post within a local authority or could be used in part to align with another role.

Case study example from the pandemic:

  • MAC-UK, a group of community psychologists, have been working in communities with vulnerable young people during COVID-19. Some of their activities include:
    • Investigating the ‘underground economy’ where many excluded young people work to identify ways in which they can be supported in the event of income loss due to the economic impacts of the pandemic
    • Developing strategies on ‘what next’ in the aftermath of COVID by exploring the potential role of community psychologists in creating social change in communities
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