Whenever I feel disillusioned or fed up in my "work world" (not too often, thankfully), it helps me to be reminded of the extraordinary work that community organisations do and have done over the last two years (and for many years before, of course).
As Ros Wynne-Jones pointed out recently in the Daily Mirror, in the key stages of the pandemic community organisations rose to the challenge, from Coventry (and the work of Moat House Community Trust) to Hackney to Bristol and all over the place.
I'm very proud that we have been able to support a number of the organisations involved at different times in their work, partly through our long association with umbrella body Locality.
But as the article in the Daily Mirror goes on to discuss, there is more to these community organisations than feeding people at a time of crisis.
The Government has recently reaffirmed its commitment to "levelling up", to growing and supporting those parts of the country and the economy that are less prosperous and less privileged.
It is striking that in many of these communities, you will find organisations like those mentioned in the article; local groups, often managed and run by people from the area, working across a range of needs to offer practical support and help. These organisations are typically charities, operating at the margins financially, and often requiring financial support or grant funding to keep going.
As the recent 'Navigating the Storm' report from Locality shows, community organisations have struggled (ironically) to access the Government's Community Ownership Fund, the Community Renewal Fund, and are looking carefully at the proposed processes around the Levelling Up Fund.
What they see gives them real concern that the latter will replicate previous mistakes, being overly controlled by central government, and wasting valuable resources and energy on competitive bid processes.
There were hopeful signs in the Levelling Up white paper, with talk of strengthened neighbourhood governance and maximising opportunities for community ownership. But we need more than this.
It is surely time to build on the sterling work that local organisations have done during the pandemic. Time to invest in community infrastructure and to devolve control and decision making down to the most local level. Time to grow hope from the ground up, not to make grand policy gestures that never reach the neighbourhood level.
That would create real change.
Done properly, what happened during the pandemic can be a blueprint for Levelling Up. Instead of reinventing the wheel with top-down, eye-catching schemes, the government should strengthen existing community-led projects.