During normal times, the local news inspires us to head out and about. To explore and experience things that are happening across our neighbourhood. However, 2020 has been anything but a normal year. The COVID-19 health crisis has restricted our mobility and with it brought huge challenge to people’s lives. It has been a year of uncertainty and adjustment for everyone and councils across the country.

Image of people wearing covid masks.
Image source: Camden Covid-19 Stories.

To grasp the impact of the crisis on people across our borough, Camden council launched camdencovid19stories.commonplace.is at the end of the summer. This online platform invites residents to share their experience of the pandemic. Through poems, artwork and videos people across the neighbourhood provided glimpses into what life has been like and their hopes for the future of everyone in the borough. 

Our very own Fitzrovia Youth in Action (FYA) shared their own inspiring stories with a #Lockdown video series. It’s a showcase of what they have been up to since rallying their community early on in the health crisis. Activity levels ramped up to raise emergency funds, provide hot meal services, art packs and gatherings online. The ability to adapt swiftly is thanks to the setup of a Digital Steering Group of young people to help shape FYA’s response. 175 young people took part in peer support programmes during lockdown, including cohorts of vulnerable young people already dealing with specific challenges such as such young refugees and asylum seekers, young people whose parents are in conflict, young people living with HIV, young people with learning difficulties, to name but a few.

Whilst we brace ourselves for more uncertainty over the coming months, it’s reassuring to know that we’re not alone. Heading online can help us to stay in touch with what’s happening nearby. But these stories also do more than keep us connected. They are also important for our council to better understand what’s on people’s minds. In September, with the support of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP), the council launched the Camden Renewal Commission. It’s goal is to develop practical solutions to help achieve a fair, sustainable economy and address the inequalities we have in Camden. The council is now planning to launch a series of community-led pop ups across the borough to look at these challenges in more detail and enable social action. So stayed tuned.

Meanwhile, you can still share your story on camdencovid19stories.commonplace.is or get involved with daily activities that are organised by Fitzrovia Youth in Action youth@fya.org.uk | @fyaonroad (Twitter and Instagram).