The pandemic, like other national and global crises before it, has created a moment of national reflection – an invitation to look around and to ask big questions about what we want for ourselves, our families and our communities. The answers we give will not be the same, and the organisations that we work with across our sectors – from councils to health services, utility companies to charities – will need to navigate those differences in order to build a future that can work for us all. And so, having lived through a year and half that has felt so challenging and so momentous – and with so many aspects of our lives, our communities and even our planet suddenly seeming less certain – there is a renewed impetus for taking stock and talking about the future.
This report brings together a range of insights from across Traverse’s work during the course of the pandemic. Each short chapter begins by considering some of the main ways in which our core sectors have been impacted – local government, health and social care, the voluntary sector, infrastructure, utilities and social investment. Each then goes on to ask what we’re seeing in those sectors right now – the questions that organisations are asking, the challenges they are facing, the opportunities emerging. Finally, we explore some of the big things on the horizon.
Some of what we are observing – and supporting our clients to think about – is unique to each sector. But unsurprisingly, there are also some common themes that emerge. One is the climate crisis and decarbonisation – something that was moving up the agenda before the pandemic and, in spite of COVID-19 (or in some ways because of it) – is increasing its prominence in the public consciousness. Another recurring theme is inequality and the drive to ‘level up’ society – something which, again, was already in the news in early 2020 but which world events and unequal experiences of the pandemic at home have shone a light on since. Finally, most of our sector leads draw attention to the question of how citizens can be more involved in shaping the future that follows this momentous and challenging period in all our lives. In particular, they ask how those more seldom heard and most impacted by inequalities can be included in the conversations and the decisions that will need to happen as society settles on a ‘new normal.’