Sunday, 10 February 2008

Community Hubs

I was invited to attend a meeting this afternoon at the Council Offices beside Waverly Station. There were representatives of the police, health, education, social work and other services. The Emergency Team are trying to co-ordinate the various schools and community support centres which have sprung up across the city. Almost without exception these have been established in a very ad hoc manner where people - very much like myself - have felt duty bound to do something in the face of the destructive force of the outbreak. Superintendent Mike Harper and Eve Anderson seem to be very much at the heart of bringing us all together and, as I mentioned on Friday, it's good to be part of something bigger.

Very few of the people there had held senior positions before the virus struck but rank or position no longer seemed to be as important as it had been before. There were nine of us there who were working in a school setting and we talked about some of the challenges we were facing - I was surprised how we had all responded in a similar ways by focusing upon care and welfare in the first instance and had moved away from the familiar way of organising schools so quickly.

One of the survivors from the council who joined us was Malik Ahmed, who was an ICT technician in the corporate IT division. He wanted to work with us to use the web to support children's learning. He has some really good ideas about how we can use on-line courses and resources in an interactive way. I'd never really heard of web 2.0 (e.g. hadn't realised that this blog was part of Web 2.0) but he seemed so enthusiastic about how we could use it to overcome so many of the obstacles facing us that I really do think it might be the answer to many of our educational problems. He's going to come out to school tomorrow to speak to our circle and the other schools are going to send someone along to take part.

A lot of the meeting was focused on how we could all provide support for the surrounding community as opposed to only being a school, a community centre, a library, or a health centre. They want to create teams of people who work in these places - I think they're going to call them "Community Hubs" where health care, education, community support, food and all the other services can be provided. It seems to sensible I can't think why we didn't have something like this before the outbreak. The one thing which I really find so rewarding about all this is how we come together in such a positive manner - there's no points scoring or self-importance about anyone or anything we do - it's as if we've been stripped down to the bare essentials and we can see clearly for the first time in our lives. As I write this I know it might sound like I think that this "thing" has been good for us - it hasn't - but, as Mike Harper said this afternoon - we need to turn everything to our advantage.


KathyinFL said...

Logisitical issues may become a problem but it certainly should detract from the original idea.

The first two would be space and security.

If you are dealing with small populations of people space may not be an issue as much; however, if you are dealing with a town or city sized population and want to have all of these services under one roof, you are going to require a very efficient system to process people in and out. Alternatively, you could use the centers as places that service providers operate out of so that people aren't coming to the center, but receiving in-home assistance.

The second issue goes hand-in-hand with the first. For security purposes if you have all of your services and supplies in one location and for some reason the site becomes unusual (fire or physical damage of some type) or compromised (taken over by an unscrupulous group such as a mob or the criminal element) then you've lost all of what you created. One way to do this would be to have adequate guards. Another way would be to have these sites block-by-block or by small district areas. I'm not sure how Edinburgh is physically set up.

The last issue that springs immediately to mind would be the question of whether you still have active pandemic cases going on. So, are the resources of the center for those that have recovered from the virus and no longer pose a threat to the community? Or, will the centers also serve those still at risk of infection?

Just some thoughts.

KathyinFL said...

Pardon me. That should be is certainly should NOT detract from the original idea.

That's what I get for typing while I still have battery time on the laptop and not taking the time to proof read.

Grace RN (USA) said...

Love your blog-your honestlook at the intimate pain and horror, lack of honest communication pre and intra-pandemic.

The pain is palpable. Good job.