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Chief Executive – June Blog

CHRIS ASKS ‘WHAT NOW’?


In the early weeks of the Coronavirus, so many of us as individuals and as organisations, were focused on the ‘here and now’.
We were worrying about keeping safe, staying healthy, reducing our contact with others, and figuring out how on earth we were going to map out homelife with toddlers, ageing self-isolating parents or implement home-schooling with teenagers.
At the same time, we were fearful about our much-needed community focused organisations – looking after staff, retaining volunteers, maintaining income in the light of service closures. Would survival even be possible? But, now, three months on, as CEO of an infrastructure organisation aiming to ensure the ‘survive and thrive’ potential of our hundreds of Suffolk groups and causes, we are looking at how we move to the ‘future plan’ stage.
There’s no doubt that we’ve learned lessons throughout this pandemic, and that these lessons should serve us well as we embark onto the recovery phase.


We’ve discovered:

  • Communication, for many, has proven to be just as effective via technology, where required
  • Collaboration and partnerships are becoming more valued and embraced than they have before
  • Our network members don’t expect us to ‘fix’ all their problems and pains, but they value our ability to listen, share and empathise as we navigate this difficult phase together
  • CAS staff are as committed and connected working from home as they ever were when their working day was desk based in one of our offices
  • Ongoing learning and development is something which matters to us, and the idea of embracing this through remote and virtual means is no longer daunting or seen as a less worthy concept and growing understanding that it can provide significant benefits
  • Individuals do not see their commitment to their community as a short-term thing. They want help in being able to volunteer and to make a difference – something we would certainly like to harness
  • In a more ‘remote’ world, the noise of other channels, resources and modes of communication can be overwhelming. People want to hear from a voice and a source they can truly trust
  • The speed at which the voluntary sector can mobilise, flex and adapt to meet changing needs has been evidenced in the best way possible

    These are the discoveries and message reinforcements which are now going to be shaping the way we step forward.
    Already, my senior team and I have begun looking at our intended business plan and considering what we need to change or update, in order to ensure we are better able to develop – for the interests of all who work with and for us – and evolve in the context of a post Covid world.
    Among our changes will be:
  • Greater development of new and existing partnerships and relationships
  • Increased working flexibility for our staff
  • Greater use of IT for all our activities, services and communications
  • The roll-out of a new and exciting model of virtual training which will complement our existing offer

    But of course, what’s most important now, is not that we tell you what we’re changing and why we think we should. Instead, my great desire is to ensure that I really ‘hear’ what it is you think we should do, change, introduce or enhance.
    So I end on one simple question – What do you want from Community Action Suffolk in this emerging ‘new normal’?
    Whatever the scale of your project, or whether you’re an individual or an organisation which has previously had very little engagement with us and wants to do so more, please, do get in touch.
    I’m really determined that we shape Community Action Suffolk in a way which best serves the people and organisations we are here to support across Suffolk.
    Over to you.
    You can email me directly on chris.abraham@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk
    Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Christine Abraham
    Chief Executive
    Community Action Suffolk