Happy Cities releases Together, Apart toolkit

Hey Neighbour Collective partners contributed to this guidebook of engagement ideas to help stimulate creative thinking about ways to help people stay connected and feel supported during times of physical distancing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of human life in communities around the world. From the tragic loss of life to the toll on people’s physical and mental health; to the impact on healthcare systems and the weakened overall international economy, the pandemic presents complex challenges.

Loneliness and isolation are two key challenges.

We hadn’t seen COVID-19 coming. However, as part of our work, we felt it was important to develop a brief guidebook with engagement ideas that can help people stay connected and feel supported during physical distancing. We worked with Happy Cities to put together engagement ideas for housing operators and residents of multi-unit buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to plan activities

Through this guide, we are proposing several activities that might support people’s needs and help them stay safely connected. These ideas are meant to be a starting point for residents and organizations to continue brainstorming and developing activities suited to their unique building.

Please note that this toolkit was completed prior to late fall 2020 heightening of public health restrictions. We urge you to take care to adapt any ideas you find here to current health restrictions. In BC, you can learn about those here: BC COVID-19 Health Restrictions.

  • Identify residents’ needs & priorities. Through the workshop and ongoing learnings, we identified five priority areas for consideration. These areas are linked to challenges or issues that have emerged or been exacerbated due to COVID-19. Your building’s priorities might be different, so we encourage you to talk to residents.
  • Consider human, financial & technical resources. Explore what kind of activities will allow people to feel comfortable and safe. Also, before preparing an activity consider how many resources you are ready to invest. Consider the level of effort (including time, money and technological requirements) involved.
  • Enable connections through ‘social equity’. Explore how to ensure all people have equal opportunities to participate in different activities. Consider the unique identities, abilities and challenges of the residents.
  • Look out for residents’ health & safety. Social programming in multi-unit buildings during the pandemic is dependent on the real and perceived risks faced by residents. BC Centre for Disease Control’s updates and guidelines can help housing providers understand which activities can be conducted in buildings and how this can happen safely.

Read the rest of the Together Apart Toolkit (PDF), including more in-depth info on:

  1. Identifying residents’ needs & priorities
  2. Enabling connections through ‘social equity’
  3. Looking out for residents’ health and safety
  4. Engagement ideas and activity examples
  5. Additional resources, including research sources.