As part of our first virtual AGM on Wednesday 4 November, Pembroke House hosted a panel discussion with community leaders from the voluntary and public sector. We listened to their experiences of being at the heart of the community response to the pandemic, what we can learn from it, and what practical action we can take to build a better Walworth going forward.
Panellists included Alice Macdonald, Local Councillor & Cabinet Member for Equalities and Communities; David Stock, CEO at Southwark Disablement Association; and Cathy Deplessis, Director at Southwark Pensioners’ Centre.
Each acknowledged that the pandemic exposed the high rate of pre-existing unmet needs in the community, and the need to help those on the fringes who might otherwise fall beneath the thresholds for statutory support.
To tackle the next phase, our panellists agreed that the focus should be on setting aside rivalries and competitive urges by building on the collaborative work that has taken place across the neighbourhood during the pandemic.
They also highlighted the need to create a long-term strategy to support volunteers, connect with those who are isolated or digitally excluded, and share data and learning between organisations in more efficient ways.
In all this, Cathy Deplessis pointed out that we need to be “empowering locals in a practical way, to not just be receivers, so that you’re building and strengthening the local community. COVID brought people together quickly around a crisis, and that energy and desire to help is still there.”
As Pembroke House Executive Director, Mike Wilson, concluded at the end of our AGM, “we’ve achieved more in six months than six years” – so our next challenge will be to keep this up.
You can see the full recording of our virtual AGM below. For the panel discussion, skip to 37:00.