A new inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Integration will examine the legacy and lessons of the COVID-19 crisis in relation to social connection and integration. The group is particularly keen to hear from businesses, from organisations that work with volunteers and from others working with socially isolated groups.
The inquiry will focus on four themes:
- Has the COVID-19 crisis changed the way that business thinks about their role in in enabling a more socially connected and integrated society?
- How can the goodwill of volunteers be harnessed in ways that promote social connection and integration?
- How do we address social divisions in the light of COVID-19 and strengthen the social infrastructure of our communities?
- How might the positive changes in relation to social connection and community action be sustained into the future?
Evidence can be submitted, in writing or as filmed content, by Friday 18 September 2020. The inquiry will also hold online oral evidence sessions when Parliament returns in September 2020, with a view to publishing a report in autumn 2020.
The inquiry considers the role that business can play in encouraging a more socially connected and integrated society, and whether the COVID-19 crisis has changed the way that business thinks about its role. It hopes to hear of examples of best practice from businesses both large and small, as well as hearing what incentives might encourage business to take a more active role on this issue.
MPs will also consider the role of volunteering during COVID-19 and how this can be sustained in the longer term. It will ask whether volunteer recruitment and deployment was well coordinated during the crisis; examine best practice in the use of volunteering to promote social connection; and also asks what policy changes would encourage volunteering, including among groups who are less likely to take part.
It will also examine broader themes including the impact of COVID-19 on social connection and integration and how positive changes, such an increased feeling of ‘community spirit’, could be sustained.
The inquiry follows an initial report that the APPG published in May 2020. Written during lockdown, the report set out the issues that the COVID-19 crisis raised for social connection and integration, sharing some of the innovative practice that sought to address these challenges.
The Social Integration All Party Parliamentary Group is a cross-party group of parliamentarians that aims to drive forward a cross-party conversation on policy solutions to break down barriers to integration and create opportunities for people from all walks of life to connect with each other and build bonds of trust. It is chaired by Peter Gibson MP and its secretariat is the think tank British Future.