I love this quote from Winnie Byanyima, the executive director at Oxfam International: ‘What is growth for if not to help ordinary people thrive?’ Of course, we are all struggling with the impact of COVID-19. It’s taken us off track, but we need to steer ourselves back.
In this kind of turmoil and uncertainty all we can do is direct ourselves to our new course by taking shorter steps, looking back to make sure our steps are sure, and then taking another one. At some point we will have more certainty and we can take those big steps that will make the significant difference.
In Cornwall, the pandemic has exposed the fragility of our seasonal economy and has seen many businesses failing to survive and members of our community – many of whom are on lower than average wages – falling through the gaps of Government funding. Winnie’s quote means even more in a post-lockdown Cornwall than it did before.
Despite having to take smaller, surer steps to recovery, it is vital we strive towards helping our community to survive and thrive. Even though our financial positions are difficult, we must work out how we redirect our resources to deliver outcomes that will make a difference. To coin a phrase, the deckchairs have been moved and the imperatives for change have never been stronger.
We have seen amazing community collaboration over the last few months and we must not lose the energy this has created, but it will require spending more time and resources doing things better together. This will mean a re-direction of resources currently embedded in service budgets.
In Cornwall, I am working with our team on mapping all of our activity and costs to our outcomes, exposing those activities that do not contribute to the outcomes residents tell us are most important to them. The case for change has never been stronger and now is the time to change the way we deliver our support to ordinary people.
Tracie Langley is interim chief operating officer & S151 at Cornwall Council