Community work - a protective shield?
On the impacts and value of community projects in Vienna in view of the Covid-19 crisis, supported by the Jubilee Fund of the City of Vienna
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between social capital, community work projects and resilience in times of crisis. Specifically, the aim was to determine which structures are created or strengthened by community projects that have had a positive impact in the context of the Covid 19 crisis and which activities are particularly beneficial for relevant stakeholders in this crisis situation. In order to investigate these questions, a concrete project of Caritas district work was chosen as the object of study - the "Grätzeleltern".
Within the framework of the surveys, a multitude of impacts emerged which arise in the project "Grätzeleltern", but also in other projects of district work. In the normal state, these are, for example, improved access to the (aid) system and an increase in knowledge for households and residents, or an expansion of the social network - both for households and residents, as well as for volunteers and other relevant stakeholders such as counselling centres, authorities and municipal institutions. During the Covid 19 crisis, the impact was, for example, the reduction of fears and an increased acceptance of official measures by households and residents, but also the maintenance of the social network, which contributed to a better coping with the initial restrictions of the residents and to facilitated cooperation with counselling centres and authorities.
In addition, it could be shown that an insurance effect arises in different ways through community work activities and that this contributes to easier coping with a crisis. Above all, these are activities and impacts in the area of relationship work, trust building, but also networking and regular contact, which can be described as a kind of insurance effect for crisis situations. They make it possible that support can also be offered during a crisis, that it is accepted and that in this way an added value is created for those affected and other stakeholders. This is true for the project "Grätzeleltern" as well as for other projects of district work.
The building of capacities, social capital, knowledge, structures and coping strategies that are not (fully) utilised in normal circumstances is relevant in many respects as an insurance effect or protective shield for times of crisis. It builds up capacity that can be called upon in an emergency. This capacity serves as a kind of protective shield for different types of crises or particularly challenging - personal as well as organisational - situations. The insurance effect, i.e. the enabling or strengthening of impacts in a crisis situation, should also be increasingly taken into account in impact analyses of all kinds in the future.
The flyer on Grätzeleltern can be found here.