On Monday December 6th 2021 the Cork Equal and Sustainable Communities Alliance (CESCA) hosted their annual equality day, as part of our commitments to progressing equality within the city under the Cork City Local Economic and Community Plan- Pure Cork. This annual event always takes place on or near World Human Rights Day on December 10th.
The CESCA Equality Day represents the strength of collaborative and interagency working across the City and the powerful commitment to human rights and equality within the City. Each year has a theme and this year we wanted to take a moment to pause, acknowledge and celebrate all that the community and voluntary sector has done to support marginalised communities during the Covid-19 pandemic. We also wanted to take the opportunity to consider what actions we need to take to ensure that communities and the sector that supports them can be stronger together to address inequality and social injustice.
Across the morning we heard from a number of CESCA organisations and in some instances directly from the communities they support. We were also delighted to be joined for our keynote address by Dr. Shana Cohen of TASC.
A number of key themes emerged from the morning:
- The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant negative impact on people’s mental health with almost 60% of people living in Ireland stating it has negatively affected their mental health. We heard from many communities across the morning of the loneliness and isolation that occurred as a result of the pandemic.
- The pandemic also continued to highlight the stark inequalities that exist within our city over the past year.
- The community and voluntary sector responded to this innovatively, finding new and novel ways of supporting existing and new members of their communities. This meant more people than ever before were reached by CESCA members with online supports and connections proving extremely important for many.
- Collaborative working meant that we as a community sector could come together to provide holistically for the needs of the communities we supported.
- The future is local! If more devolution of authority moved to local areas we will be better placed to address the challenges arising post pandemic, including climate change.
Dr. Shana Cohen also provided clear insight into the growing health inequalities that exist as we emerge from the pandemic with a clear blueprint for civil society organisations in seeking to effect change for our communities going forward. Namely:
- There is no data on people waiting to access mental health services, there is not enough data on how waiting times and barriers to accessing health and care can impact on a person’s physical ,mental and economic wellbeing. Therefore, more research/analysis is needed to show the complexity of the situations we are working in. need CSOs are addressing to complement health practitioners’ assessment
- We need to partner with business to assess cost to economy and civil society of not expanding capacity of the health service to meet the needs of marginalised communities and those on low incomes.
- We need to push for greater investment in community health projects to increase health literacy, preventative care and self-management, and link health (mental and physical) with social determinants of health. Shana particularly noted the importance of social prescribing projects here and capturing data on the work they do.
You can find the full report on the morning below and all the videos featured on the day can be found on our YouTube Channel