The London Community Foundation’s (LCF) annual Vital Signs Report is highlighting the problems furthered by the COVID pandemic while calling for action instead of just education.
The annual report looks at the state of the community, this year focusing on six key issues: housing security, racial equality, gender equality, well-being, food security and education.
The 2021 Vital Signs Report Be the Change, shows that many problems like housing insecurity have only increased during COVID, with the number of families and individuals looking for affordable housing rising by 1,000 in 2021.
The report also touches on other data from ANOVA and London Food Bank which both saw a surge in demand for services during the pandemic. ANOVA reported a doubling in people accessing their help due to an increase in domestic violence, while the food bank reported a 20 per cent increase in people needing food hampers over the last six months.
“This report paints a picture of serious problems we’re facing. But it’s not just about numbers, it calls upon us all to take action and provides people with the tools to start making social change,” said LCF’s Vital Signs Chair, Dr. Jerry White.
Instead of just looking at and analyzing the issues, White said their focus is shifting to how they actively work to change the problems in London.
“One of the people who wrote for us in the blog said it’s time to stop being a non-racist and become an anti-racist.”
Included in the report are links to organizations and resources people can use to take action, while the LCF is also working to learn from diverse community groups and leaders to find solutions.
A part of taking action for the foundation is also reaching out to different groups to show them how to apply to access LCF’s funding and resources.
A key to this year’s report is continuing to look at all issues and how certain communities like Indigenous people or newcomers are more impact by poverty than others.
The report shows that marginalized communities were five times more likely to come in contact or contract COVID-19 than the community as a whole.
The Hate and Bias Motivated Crime Report from London police which came out in June showed reported hate crimes in London increased 46 per cent in 2020, compared to the year prior.
White says that movements like Black Lives Matter and the residential school discoveries, as well as the London terrorism attack, have impacted how they look at issues in the community.
“Whether it be COVID-19 perpetuating issues like affordable housing or unemployment, increasing hate crimes or the traumatic legacy of residential schools, we are seeing a heightened awareness and the desire for people to become more engaged,” White said.
The organization will also be working to advocate for the issues outlined in the report to local politicians and push for change.
To further action, the foundation is launching the London Vital Signs Data Hub, a community data hub that will act as a resource for citizens, non-profit agencies and local government to help support advocacy efforts as well as evidence-based programs and policy decision making.
Local agencies that collect community-based data are encouraged to contribute to this project.
“The London Vital Signs Data Hub is a long-term project that will require partnerships and collaboration of local organizations and government. The goal is to track social trends over time and use that information to make positive changes that benefit our community,” White said.
A full breakdown of the report and resources to take action is available on the foundation’s website.