A drive to ensure Wirral communities most at-risk from COVID-19 are supported has been bolstered with £375,000 of national funding.
The grant, part of a boost of £23m to various councils, will see additional ‘Community Champions’ employed across the borough – trained to share trustworthy COVID-19 vaccine advice and information to boost local vaccination take-up.
Locally, funds will be allocated to Wirral’s BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups who have worked at the fore of the borough’s COVID-19 response to support vulnerable groups.
In 2020 Public Health England (PHE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found that BAME groups are more likely to test positive and have increased risk of death associated with COVID-19.
Cllr Yvonne Nolan, Chair of Wirral’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee, said, “Much community engagement throughout the pandemic has been co-ordinated by a Humanitarian network made up of more than 70 local community and third sector organisations – including a BAME subgroup.
“The group, in partnership with the Council, has produced videos and translations around key prevention messages, provide valuable intelligence regarding fears and issues within their communities and established a vital outreach approach to COVID-19 testing for BAME communities.
“This successful bid will allow us to empower our local organisations and expand their effective outreach to vulnerable or ‘at-risk’ groups.”
The funding will help to support:
- Nine specialist Community Champions to support local BAME communities
- In-depth data analysis to understand ‘health literacy’ levels across the borough and the impact COVID-19 has had on the local BAME population (‘health literacy’ means the degree to which individuals understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions).
- Improve the quality, translation, and accessibility of health information, including information relating to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination uptake.
- Health literacy training for health professionals working with local BAME communities.
- Access to translation services to support communications for testing, track and trace and isolation support.
- Technology to help people connect and access information.
Clint Agard Chief Executive Officer at Wirral Change, a specialist BAME outreach organisation, said, “I am so proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with other local BAME services and groups throughout the pandemic to connect with our communities at a time when they need us most.
“Ensuring access to health care, breaking down social barriers and supporting local people to stay safe, well and clued up on the latest guidance is essential to keeping us all safe.
“The Community Champion programme can continue this work, bringing our expertise and local knowledge to the table, and allow us to continue doing our bit to Keep Wirral Well.”
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said, “We want all communities to take up the offer of a free vaccine and I have been working closely with faith and community leaders to ensure those who may be at higher risk of harm from this virus know how they can benefit from a vaccine.
“The expansion of the Community Champions scheme will help everyone get the advice and information they need about COVID-19 vaccines.”
Main image credit August de Richelieu