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The COVID-19 pandemic: the essential role of the voluntary sector in emergency response and resilience planning

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This research note highlights the need to engage the voluntary sector in strategic emergency response and resilience planning with the local state. It draws on qualitative fieldwork in two Scottish local authorities, which explored service responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in high-poverty neighbourhoods. The data comprised 25 interviews with front-line workers and senior managers in voluntary sector and public sector organisations. Interviews were conducted during the spring 2020 lockdown and subsequent easing of restrictions. The article employs Young’s (2000) models of government to analyse the relationship between voluntary organisations and the state. The findings indicate that this iterative crisis requires the relational skills of the voluntary sector to supplement the local state and provide a sustainable response to the needs of vulnerable populations. There is a need for a new strategic and complementary relationship, one that fully engages locally embedded voluntary organisations at all stages of emergency response and resilience planning.
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Keywords: COVID-19; collaboration; local government; the local state; voluntary sector

Affiliations: University of Glasgow, UK

Appeared or available online: July 16, 2021

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