Beyond the Covid Crisis – Lessons from Lockdown

Research from Glasgow TSI Network

Glasgow’s Third Sector Response to Covid-19 and Lockdown

Glasgow TSI Network have been carrying out research into the third sector’s response to lockdown in Glasgow. Back in March when the country was placed under lockdown the third sector were quick to act in providing essential services to their communities. The response was incredible and we have carried out research mainly based on interviews with some of the key players to find out what went well and what lessons can be found. Should a second lockdown take place or similar emergency occur the sector could be even more effective.

The third sector has proven itself to be essential in this crisis and we hope our findings help strengthen ongoing discussions about the role of the third sector moving forwards.

In the report we highlight some of the biggest issues faced by the third sector during lockdown:

Partnership Working

The crisis saw many existing partnerships between third sector organisations flourish and many more new collaborations coming together. Focusing on the needs of their community and using their strong local knowledge and connections produced some incredibly effective responses to lockdown. Hopefully these strong new partnerships will continue to benefit society once lockdown eases and creates a more resilient community going forward. It’s important to note that some interviewees felt very strongly that the council or HSCP could have provided more leadership to aid this collaboration, especially noting the absence of Community Planning Partnerships. Lockdown has shown the capability of the third sector in Glasgow and there are hopes organisations can work closely with the council as equal partners in the future.


Throughout lockdown Glasgow saw close to £14 million in Covid specific funding being made available to third sector organisations. Funders were flexible about how money was spent which was crucial for the third sector’s speedy and adaptable response. However, a lot of this money was directed to food provision and there was some duplication of services in certain areas of the city. This was a solution to an immediate problem highlighted early on during the crisis but also meant that emerging issues such as mental health and digital exclusion were left behind. Some co-ordination could have avoided this.

Digital Exclusion

At the start of lockdown many organisations moved their services online. Friends, family and neighbours kept in contact via the telephone or online through social media, WhatsApp or Zoom. It became crucial to be able to get online and the crisis really highlighted the amount of people who were not connected online, who didn’t have the technology, finance or skills to do so. The third sector did a great job in tackling this problem by sourcing laptops, tablets and support yet these efforts will need to be continued to truly tackle the issue.

Social Isolation and Mental Health

Most third sector organisations were able to move their services online to reach those in their communities. Social isolation was especially difficult for those who were digitally excluded such as older adults and disabled people. Lockdown was incredibly difficult for many people and there is certainly the potential for a mental health crisis in the coming months. It’s expected there will be an increase in demand on mental health services as we come out of lockdown and there needs to be solid referral systems in place to help those in need.

Food Provision

The need for food during lockdown was recognised as an immediate issue. The third sector response to this was huge. Many organisations that began delivering emergency food parcels did so as a gateway to open conversation and direct people to other support for Wi-Fi connections, welfare rights services etc. However, there was some degree of duplication and some concerns with the quality and suitability of food being delivered. Despite this there’s no doubt these food parcels were life savers for those who were unable to leave the house.

Poverty and Inequality

The effects of lockdown are going to be long lasting. There are huge worries that redundancies and debt will increase massively. Those already hardest hit will suffer the most and the third sector needs to be prepared for this.

Read the report here 


Ania Neisser

Glasgow TSI Network

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