Wirral’s Director of Public Health has thanked the Borough’s Community Champions as they mark the network’s first anniversary today, Wednesday 1 September.
The voluntary network was launched last year by Wirral Council to support the need for clear, accurate information, to be shared by trusted voices, during the pandemic. Since that time almost 700 people have signed up to help keep their communities safe with Champions coming from all walks of life including business owners, teachers, NHS staff, Health and social care workers, Faith and Community Leaders as well as retirees and students.
Julie Webster, Director of Public Health in Wirral said, “We launched the Community Champions network because we recognised the role our residents wanted to play in fighting COVID-19. Our Champions have helped counter misinformation and have been a trusted voice in their community. I’m grateful that so many local people signed up to keep Wirral well.
“We asked the Champions why they chose to get involved and many have said it was beneficial for them both personally and professionally. They wanted to know as much about the virus as possible so they could share trusted information with people who were vulnerable or who did not have digital access to information. Our Champions are yet another example of the strong community ties that bind us in Wirral and I am pleased to say the network has gone from strength to strength.”
Piara Miah, Outreach Co-ordinator for Wirral Deen Centre said, “Being a Community Champion keeps me better informed. In my voluntary role at Wirral Deen Centre, I try to pass on trusted information that I know will help others in the community and in the last year, I have gained a lot of information via the Champions network at a time when it was really needed.”
Rev. Keith Addenbrooke, Vicar of the Parish of St. James with St. Bede said, “I have found the weekly newsletter I receive as a Community Champion to be really effective, containing a lot of high-quality information. When you are a Vicar, anyone can ask you anything at any time, and having regular access to information that I trust and can share with others has been very helpful. The information from Wirral Council regarding COVID-19 has been easy to understand throughout and that consistency helps to build trust.”
Wirral Council is currently asking residents to “Have Your Say” on COVID-19 in Wirral to help shape the role of the Community Champions as we move toward winter.
Julie added, “Our Champions have already helped us to tackle misinformation and vaccine hesitancy, encouraged people to get tested and provided important feedback on how people really feel about COVID-19 and the challenges many have faced.
“Our engagement team will be working with the Champions to deliver a series of webinars designed to support them in their role and focusing on some of the issues they have told us they would like to know more about such as social media and holding challenging conversations. We are determined to build on the foundations already established in our first year because we need our Champions as much now as we ever have.”