BDCAN or Barking & Dagenham Citizens Alliance Network was established in response to the Covid-19 crisis in March 2020. It has already shown the very best of the borough.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic forced daily life into lockdown, our community and social sector has stepped up to work with the council to ensure there is help for our vulnerable residents.
Less than a fortnight after the government had announced the national lockdown, we had mobilised a network of support reaching across the borough – linking together the best of local public services and civil society. We have called that network BD CAN plus.
We were able to activate this network so quickly because of the years spent building relationships and supporting the social sector to grow and connect in new ways.
It was also because of the changes we have made to the council itself, and the creation of an integrated ‘front door’ to key support services, which we call Community Solutions.
Working together – and alongside all the incredible VCS and faith organisations in the borough – we have assembled and are delivering a seamless support system that is rooted in the community. This system have, quite literally, been a lifeline.
We refer to the overall network of support being delivered in the borough as BD CAN Plus, which comprises three elements:
- Community Solutions – the council’s integrated ‘front door’ to support, on issues ranging from homelessness, debt advice, job support and community food clubs (plus running the Covid specialist support hub, for ‘shielding’ and other vulnerable residents).
- BD CAN – a local platform for the co-ordination of social support being provided by hundreds of local volunteers and orchestrated by an alliance of voluntary and faith organisations from nine locality hubs across the borough
- Wider VCS and faith sector – a range of other civil society organisations which are providing vital help and assistance to residents struggling in the face of Covid 19.
One month into the crisis, this short report describes the support network we have built, the work it is doing and the impact it has already had.
The report also provides some of the recent history and context, which is fundamental to understanding what we have done and why we think it is making a real difference.
Finally, it shares some of the lessons we think our model and approach might have for other areas and national policy debates.