The COVID-19 pandemic at its current stage has proven to be the defining crisis of our time. It has mutated to become much more than a health crisis and has brought upon an unprecedented socio-economic upheaval in our lives with the potential to stagnate the progress of our society, especially the disenfranchised and the marginalised.
We at Forbes Marshall (FM) have always believed in the power of collective action and consistently stood up in support of our communities during such trying times. Guided by our values of Family Spirit, Good Citizenship and our commitment towards Energizing Communities, our teams have taken multifaceted approaches to combat the situation.
Spreading Awareness and Ensuring Integrated Development.
Very soon, we realised that although focusing on immediate relief activities are indisputably important, these may result in an unintended adverse long-term impact on NGOs; if a significant effort is not directed towards their capacity building, especially during these unprecedented times. With this in mind, Forbes Marshall organized Webinars for our NGO partners and smaller sized NGOs of Pune on Program Re-Design and Financial Management. These webinars were an effective measure to expand their expertise and offer relevant support that enabled the NGOs to strategically re-contextualise their existing programs and plan better interventions. Relevant financial management strategies also helped the NGOs to make sense of the current situation, and be better prepared for strategic allocation of funds.
The adverse effects of the pandemic and the sudden imposition of the lockdown had a severe impact on the mental health of particularly children and adolescents. Forbes Marshall has always been a proponent of breaking the stigma around Mental Health. It has also been a strong advocate for addressing the mental health issues for the underprivileged, for whom Mental Health care remains largely inaccessible. .
During this Covid-19 crisis, Forbes Marshall supported Help for Children in Need Foundation to reach out to the youth and children facing issues related to isolation, depression, hunger and many others. Through their intervention, many children in high-risk areas were identified who were assisted in terms of providing nutritious meals, ensuring a hygienic environment and ensuring their safety.
Alongside, Forbes Marshall also supported several small enterprises in different ways; understanding their individual needs and pain points. Most were given advance orders, some were given small amounts of financial aid and some were provided with physical space to store material.
Migrants Resilience Collaborative and Social Compact Initiative
In the early days of the outbreak and the lockdown being imposed, the country was slowly engulfed in a stark economic and humanitarian crisis, due to the breakdown of supply chains and increasing unemployment. Most affected were people from under-resourced and marginalized communities. For the migrant workers, it meant the loss of livelihood; food insecurity, forced mass migrations; often on foot causing unnecessary and tragic loss of life.
Committed to delivering social security entitlement, providing access to responsible recruitment and strengthening worker protections, welfare and redressal; Forbes Marshall became a part of the Migrants Resilience Collaborative (MRC) - a multi-stakeholder collaborative, in which civil society, philanthropies, private and Govt sector have come together to support 10 million+ migrant workers and battle this unique challenge.
Rati Forbes, Director, Forbes Marshall Group also has become one of the members of the Steering Committee; comprising some of India’s leading philanthropists and business leaders. The MRC is preparing for the long road to economic recovery and the possibility of multiple waves of COVID, by creating a safety net that prevents families from repeatedly falling back into poverty. It also aims to ensure safe and stable livelihoods to provide a pathway out of poverty and ensure the basic rights and dignity of workers.
Forbes Marshall also became one of the first companies to sign up for the Business-Civil society Initiative to take affirmative action under the Social Compact Initiative. Under this initiative, Business Leaders and Civil Society Leaders were identified, enabling the work to pick up pace in Pune, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai.
Scripting a resilient future
In moments of crisis like these, we have very limited control over everything that happens to us, but we can certainly control how we respond to issues we can’t control. Forbes Marshall continues to be committed to positively impacting society, by ensuring a resilient social sector - a society that has the potential to withstand calamities; bounce back in the face of adversities and envisions a society that is capable of nurturing dignified, able and resilient human beings in a safe and wholesome environment.