Manchester Briefing #26 – Cities for a Resilient Recovery: International Lessons on Recovery from COVID-19

Written by Resilient Cities Network
Thursday, 25 February 2021


Bi-weekly Manchester Briefing #26 – 25 February 2021

This week, we consider how addressing financial concerns of individuals, communicating with migrants and refugees, and delivering the vaccine to unregistered people can play a key role in the response and recovery from COVID-19.

International Lessons

  • Addressing the financial concerns of communities and individuals (Ireland)
  • Post-COVID solutions to climate change that are people-led, community-focused, and nature-based (Indonesia, Egypt)
  • Communicating with migrants and refugees about policies during COVID-19 (OECD, UNHCR)
  • Ethics of a vaccine passport (Australia, Denmark)
  • Delivering the vaccine to unregistered people (Jordan, Canada)
  • Contact tracing to support the regeneration of live entertainment events (Thailand, Philippines, USA)
  • Supporting children who have recently reached the age of leaving care (Southeast Asia)
  • The role of workforce planning in addressing women’s experience of work (United Kingdom)

Useful Webinars


Health and Wellbeing: Everyone living and working in the city has access to what they need to survive and thrive

Consider how to support children who have reached the age of leaving care during and after the pandemic. Data from the EU shows that 18 year olds who are in care are more likely to be not in employment, education or training, and experience higher levels of social exclusion or homelessness. COVID-19 has exacerbated their financial insecurity, poor mental health, and limited support networks as they transition to independent living. In addition to assessing the capacity of social work provision (TMB Issue 6), consider:

  • Formally designate people who are leaving care as belonging to a vulnerable group
  • Extend social protection programmes to make support services, such as financial support for food and accommodation, immediately available to those who leave care
  • Ensure social services maintain regular personalised contact with those who leave care to advise them of what support is available during COVID-19 
  • Increase the capacity and flexibility of online communication with those who leave care, including availability of support forums
  • Increase the capacity of mental health services, including outreach services and crisis support teams, by drawing on trained volunteers and enhance training in psychological first aid and safeguarding
  • Partner with private care agencies, non-governmental organisations, corporate partners and care professionals to establish support and training/employment programmes

– Establish a mentor programme to strengthen the support network of care leavers during their transition from care to independent living (e.g. ProgramaMentor, Galicia, Spain)

– Provide employment advice to those who leave care, such as guidance on CV writing via an online workshop

– Host virtual career or industry insights days to support those who leave care in making decisions on their next steps regarding education and employment

– Establish targeted education and employment support for those who leave care, such as practical skills training on computing, email writing, giving presentations, and interviews; plus volunteering opportunities, work experience and apprenticeships for when lockdowns and restrictions end


Economy and Society: The social & financial systems that enable urban populations to live peacefully, and act collectively

Consider how your organisation can prepare to address the financial concerns of communities and individuals.  Many individuals and families have experienced negative economic impacts from COVID-19 as a result of business closures, job losses and reduced working hours. Globally, governments have introduced financial stimuli through small business loans and furlough schemes, in an effort to mitigate the consequences of financial losses caused by the pandemic. As many stimulus packages are scheduled to end in the coming months, business owners are concerned that they will be unable to continue to pay staff, and employees are concerned that they may be made redundant. Consider:

  • The need to quickly increase the capacity of local financial support and advice systems 

– Partner with and commission community advice services, e.g. Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
– Build capacity and train volunteers to increase the range of specialist and generalist welfare and debt advice that is available
– Seek support from local businesses that can provide financial and other advice

  • Increase community and business awareness of how to access support services:

– Run information campaigns targeted at groups that need support
– Bring together sources of good advice from trusted partners into a single location/source to make information easy to find
– Sign post and onward refer members of the community to services

  • Integrate debt and financial advice and budgeting support with forms of direct financial support 


Consider a targeted contact tracing programme to support the regeneration of live entertainment events. The live music and entertainment industry has been heavily affected by the pandemic, with the majority of live events cancelled in 2020. A targeted contact tracing programme could enable the return of live entertainments events and keep the public safe, by identifying and containing a spread of the virus quickly. The contribution of the live entertainment industry to the economy is vast, and critical for GDP, generating employment and attracting tourism. Consider:

  • Contact tracing as a targeted initiative to enable the return of live entertainment 
  • Scope costs of such an initiative and assess affordability 

– Consider regional collaboration to lower costs
– Seek funding or grant support, e.g. Arts Councils

  • Establish and train a dedicated events contact tracing team to

– Provide contact tracing services
– Develop educational materials for events companies, their employees, and customers
– Provide on-site environmental health consulting to assist events businesses and venues in being COVID-safe
– Support businesses in scheduling appointments at testing facilities

  • Design an incentive and enforcement scheme to encourage commitment to a contact tracing programme and the implementation of COVID-19 safety measures
  • Introduce an audit and certification programme to approve live events (see TMB Issue 28 for guidance on certification programmes)


Consider how workforce planning addresses women’s experience of work. The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women’s experience of work. Women are more likely to work in low-paying and informal jobs, and also constitute a significant proportion of healthcare professionals and essential workers at the frontlines. Women working in these areas, e.g. cleaners, carers, catering staff and early learning and childcare workers, and frontline workers, have had to cope with the immense pressures of providing essential services during the pandemic while also caring for children and relatives. Employers should recognise and address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on women’s experience of work, including groups of women who have been badly affected by job disruption, such as BAME women, single parents and young women. Changes to workplaces are also a direct consequence of the pandemic, meaning that some women may be at higher risk of violence or abuse. Employers play a vital role in helping women who experience abuse to access support, and should recognise that sexual harassment doesn’t just occur face-to-face, but also through online platforms. Close the Gap offer guidance on an intersectional approach to workforce planning, to support local government to develop gender-sensitive employment practices. They advise to consider:

  • Participate in an employer accreditation programme, e.g. Equally Safe at Work
  • Collect new intersectional, gender-disaggregated data on the impact of COVID-19 on employees, e.g. access to childcare, well-being, the experience of employees at work during COVID-19:

– Conduct a gendered analysis to identify varying experiences of women and men during COVID-19
– Use this data and analysis to inform any return to work plans/policies and to promote staff well-being

  • Conduct an equality impact assessment prior to the implementation of new workplace policies 
  • Engage with women working in lower paid roles to ensure their experiences are used to inform plans for recovery
  • Offer support to women who are working at home, including:

– Conduct risk assessments to determine support needs for working from home
– Assess working arrangements and their sustainability
– Offer flexible working to staff with caring responsibilities
– Regularly check in with employees to see how they are managing

  • Available support for female employees who are more likely to be affected by COVID-19, including those who are disabled, pregnant, returning from maternity leave, BAME
  • Raise awareness of Violence against Women (VAW) policies in view of the rise in domestic violence during lockdowns:

– Communicate zero tolerance of VAW
– Signpost to local specialist services, e.g. Women’s Aid
– Raise awareness of reporting processes for VAW


Infrastructure and Environment: The man-made and natural systems that provide critical services, and protect and connect urban assets, enabling the flow of foods, services, and knowledge

Consider post-COVID solutions to climate change that are people-led, community-focused, and nature-based. Concurrent incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as locus swarms destroying farms in Africa, forest fires devastating the US, flooding in the UK, show us that climate change actions are crucial when considering renewal strategies. Communities that are more vulnerable to natural disasters are disproportionately challenged during a pandemic. Natural climate solutions protect and restore nature, which can help mitigation of (and adaption to) the impacts of climate change, e.g. coastal wetland can defend communities from storm surge and sea level rise, well-managed forests can protect water supplies, reduce wildfire risk and prevent landslides. Consider:

  • Raise awareness locally of the value and potential benefits of nature-based solutions for communities in mitigating risks of future natural disasters
  • Engage with local businesses as potential sponsors of nature-based solutions
  • Establish a volunteering scheme with employees of local businesses to support nature-based initiatives

– Partner with local voluntary groups and community based organisations to establish community-led conservation efforts
– Establish a ‘plant a tree initiative’, to build and enhance local forestry
– Encourage roof top gardens and balcony gardens – create online gardening tutorials for creating mini urban gardens

  • Work with local land owners to identify appropriate actions that support nature-based approaches, e.g. planting marram grass to stabilise sand dunes or peatland restoration


Leadership and Strategy: The processes that promote effective leadership, inclusive decision-making, empowered stakeholders, and integrated planning.

Consider how to communicate with migrants and refugees about migration policies and re-settlement/community integration policies during COVID-19. Due to lockdown measures and temporary breaks to in-person public service provision, communicating specific information to migrants and refugees on their rights and obligations has been challenging. This includes communications on re-settlement programmes to support their integration into communities (see previous TMB for guidance on national resettlement programmes). Some countries have introduced temporary policy changes and targeted communication of such changes is crucial so that migrants are aware of the essential services that are available to them during the pandemic, e.g. Spain suspended the obligation to have valid documents in order to access essential public services such as healthcare and vaccination. National information strategies can be complemented locally by reaching out directly to migrants living in communities. Consider:

  • Identify and establish contact with the leaders of refugee and migrant groups to communicate important messages
  • Collaborate with migration support services, NGOs and local volunteers to develop a targeted online communications platform for migrants and refugees, e.g. “Migration Information Hub”, Leeds City Council, UK

– Use the platform to inform migrants about COVID-19 related issues and guidelines; access to health care, food, housing, work rights, visa status, signpost immigration services and detail any changes to policy measures
– Ensure alternative communication strategies are explored, such as information leaflets through migrations support services reach those who do not have access to the internet
– Provide information on how victims of discrimination can get help and support

  • Collect further data and information on reaching specific groups through consultation with the relevant communities, to improve future preparedness for crisis communication with migrants and their families
  • Ensure easy access to information by translating key material into the languages of migrant communities:

– Recruit translation volunteers to support the translation of information and development of multilingual media for the platform, e.g. YouTube videos

  • Organise free workshops for migrants and refugees via Zoom, e.g. ‘How to access health services’, to inform on free services, including mental health facilities
  • Develop and deliver targeted communication strategies to influence communities’ perceptions of migrants, working with local community leaders and groups, and organisations that support and advocate for migrants:

– Tackle and counter misinformation online to prevent prejudice against migrants and mitigate the negative impact of the health crisis on immigrant integration
– Set up a social media campaign that directly addresses the prevention of discrimination and spread of misinformation, e.g. “Somos Panas”, Columbia
– Invite the public to help counter the spread of misinformation by sharing fact-based information with their own communities


Consider the ethics of vaccine passports for COVID-19. Vaccination certification for COVID-19, sometimes referred to as immunity/vaccine passports, are being considered by some countries as a strategy to relax the strict measures that have been imposed on society over the last year. The document is designed to certify people as immune to COVID-19 based on vaccination. Consider the ethical issues associated with varying restrictions on individual liberties based on possession of a vaccine certificate. Consider: 

  • If a vaccination certification programme could cause unequal treatment of individuals by segregating members of society into different tiers of infection risk and contagiousness, for example: 

– Members of groups who live with systemic discrimination and marginalization may face more barriers to accessing particular areas of society or activities if they are not certified as vaccinated
– Differences in exposure, access to health care and vaccination certification may lead to some groups having higher or lower proportions of vaccine-certified people 

  • If the application of vaccination certification should only be used with existing precautions and should not prevent non-vaccine certified people from accessing areas or activities, e.g. people who have not received a vaccination certificate should not be prevented from travelling but may be required to take a test/quarantine on arrival as per the existing precautionary measure
  • Whether vaccinations certifications should:

– Impact a person’s ability to exercise fundamental rights such as voting, accessing and social care or education
– Cause an increase in cost or burden for vaccine-certified individuals, e.g. frontline healthcare workers who are vaccination certified should not be expected to manage more work 

  • If the perceived benefits of vaccine certifications could increase the risk of people increasing their exposure to intentionally become infected and receive a certificate, which poses risks to an increase in community spread and could potentially cause harm to others
  • The perceived value of vaccine certificates and counterfeit market activity/certificates
  • How to mitigate implementation risks, e.g. certification being managed by certified bodies, results being processed and confirmed by licensed laboratories, and certificates being issued by health authorities
  • To protect personal data and minimize breaches of confidentiality, legal and regulatory measures should be put in place to limit the access to data by governmental authorities


Consider how the vaccine will be delivered to unregistered people. While the vaccine programme may be in its early stage in many countries, thought is required on how to access people who are not on any social services list or registered in any location. This includes homeless people, illegal immigrants, stateless people and refugees who are not in the ‘system’. Excluding such people from the programme risks the virus continuing to affect them, and then spreading into other parts of society. Consider: 

  • Take a national perspective on how to involve people who are marginalised from mainstream public services in the vaccine programme
  • Establish who is responsible for vaccinating unregistered people
  • Decide whether all vaccination centres are open to vaccinating unregistered people
  • How partners that have strong community links can disseminate the vaccine message to unregistered people 
  • Assess the consequences of unregistered people not being vaccinated
  • When the first vaccination of an unregistered person should take place and a target time frame in which to vaccinate all unregistered people 
  • Identify challenges for the vaccination programme in vaccinating unregistered people
  • Recognise that un-registered people may be fearful or hesitant to come forward to receive the vaccine:

– Consider a moratorium/amnesty on those who regard themselves to be illegally resident in the country to receive the vaccine
– Work with partners and external organisations who have links to un-registered people to communicate that they can register to receive the vaccine without fear of immigration enforcement activities 


Key past and upcoming webinars on how cities are building resilience in the face of the pandemic and other shocks & stresses.

Date Webinar Title (Click to register or to access materials)
23 February COVID Vaccine Webinar: Overcoming Vaccine Hesitancy
24 February Nursing a Pandemic: Mental Health
24 February Vulnerable Migrants & Covid19 in Japan and the UK
25 February Resilient Cities Network, World Bank – Transitioning to a Sustainable Enegy Future

Produced by The University of Manchester, UK (Professor Duncan Shaw, Róisín Jordan, Alan Boyd) in partnership with the Resilient Cities Network (Femke Gubbels, Archana Kannan)

What is the weekly briefing on Cities for a Resilient Recovery?

Every fortnight the University of Manchester brings together relevant international practices and examples on recovery from COVID-19. The bi-weekly briefing is curated by the Resilient Cities Network to bring key lessons and examples targeted for resilience officers, emergency planners and other city practitioners. The structure of the briefing follows the City Resilience Framework – specifically the four drivers that cities have been identified as mattering the most when a city faces chronic stresses or sudden shocks – Health & Wellbeing, Economy & Society; Infrastructure & Environment; and Leadership & Strategy. 

For more international examples please register @

Join the Coalition of Cities for a Resilient Recovery here

If you would be willing to contribute your knowledge to this briefing series (via a 30-minute interview) please contact

Download the Manchester Briefing #26

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