This report is an information paper to provide an update on the progress of the Covid Community Champions project. It seeks to provide an overview of how the service has performed since its inception and sets out key performance data and outcomes.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, theCoordinator of the Community Champions Project presented the report which provided an update on the progress of the CovidCommunity Champions project. The purpose of the programme was to reach residents and communities across Arun to communicate the official information and national guidance relating to all aspects of Covid-19, in accessible and appropriate formats for all and in particular those that were thought to be underserved or most at risk. Initial work leading up to this programme was via a Covid-19 sub-group developed due to rising case rates locally in Autumn 2020. The intention was to maximise the reach, accessibility and clarity of Government and NHS guidance and messaging to encourage safer behaviours, and in more recent months enable residents to be able to access the right information to be able to make an informed decision on vaccine take up. This initial sub-group was made up of Local Authority Officers and Departments and a range of District and County level partners and stakeholders.
The Coordinator of the Community Champions Project explained that receiving the Community Champions funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in early February 2021 enabled the team to increase the reach and scale of this work. This allowed the funding of two trusted community and voluntary sector organisations as delivery partners - Age UK and Citizens Advice. Among many other things, the team developed targeted community engagement, recruited volunteers (residents and organisational), created and distributed tailored communications including translated materials and British Sign Language assets, and delivered a Covid-related recovery community event in partnership with a local GP. This unique piece of work led to creating firm relationships with partners, statutory organisations, residents and developing new relationships with initiatives such as the Vaccine Community Champions and Doctors of The World.
The Coordinator of the Community Champions Project concluded that despite the challenges of lockdowns and the Tier system, joint working and information and experience sharing with local and countrywide partners had allowed the team to reach a wide and varied audience, including those that were previously classed as ‘hard to reach’. Residents had come back when they needed translations or more information for themselves and their local communities. The power of informal peer to peer information sharing had been invaluable throughout the project. Looking forward, it was hoped that the team would continue to sustain community engagement in relation to health, wellbeing, and wider inequalities, triggered or exacerbated by the pandemic, through the new Arun Community Engagement project.
The Chair commented that the Arun Covid Community Champions was a real life example of how the Council had worked with our local partnerships to create a team that had successfully relayed Covid messaging throughout 2021 directly into our local communities, helping and supporting them to stay safe and well during the pandemic. She continued that this project highlighted the best elements of partnership working and that it was a powerful testimony to the positive impact that this way of working achieved. Members further praised the project and its successes, and then noted the report.