Warrington Borough Council received £318,000 through the government’s Community Champions scheme to put measures in place to support groups most at risk from coronavirus, including people with disabilities and people from ethnic minorities.
Warrington Disability Partnership, alongside Warrington Voluntary Action, have been commissioned to deliver the project, where Community Champions will work directly with local communities to communicate the latest accurate health information to residents.
The Champions will be a trusted voice in their local community, working to encourage take up of the COVID vaccine, as more people become eligible to receive their jab. They will also feedback any issues or questions from residents to help make sure the right support is being offered, at the right time.
Dave Thompson MBE DL, Chief Executive of Warrington Disability Partnership, said: “We are really pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Warrington Voluntary Action and the council, and other local partners to deliver this scheme.
“Our Community Champions, who have been recruited from the communities most affected, will be fully trained in line with the latest information, advice and guidance, and will play an important role in communicating key messages to and from local communities.
“This will include guidance on how people can keep themselves and others safe as restrictions ease and life starts to return to normal, as well as myth-busting and providing factual information to ensure people know the facts about the vaccine and how it will benefit their health.
“The Champions will form a vital link with people who may have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and the feedback they receive will be used to develop ways of supporting those in greatest need.”
A range of materials will be provided for Community Champions to use to communicate timely and accurate information and they will receive relevant training and regular updates so they are able to support communities.
Thara Raj, Warrington’s Director of public health, said: “Over the last year, our priority has been to protect our residents as much as possible, providing clear and up-to-date information, particularly to those most at risk from the virus.
“The new Community Champions have really hit the ground running and will be a fantastic resource to expand on this work, which will help us to reach more people who may be worried or concerned and need a little extra guidance or support.
"We know so far the vaccine roll-out in Warrington has been a resounding success, but we also know that for each eligible cohort, there are some communities and residents that we struggle to reach. The Champions will be able to increase our outreach and make sure everybody in Warrington can be offered the vaccine and receive it when it’s their turn.
“Please remember that it’s important we don’t relax too much as restrictions are eased and continue to stick to the rules to keep everyone as safe and as well as possible as we learn to live with coronavirus.”
To support the Community Champions project, we would like to understand more about resident’s experiences throughout the pandemic, particularly around self-isolation, testing and vaccinations. In order for the work of the Champions to have a real impact, we are looking to gather your views – please complete our short survey and be in with the chance of winning 1 of 20 £30 Love to Shop vouchers.
The survey can be completed online at warrington.gov.uk/consultations. To ask for a paper copy of the survey, or if you require the survey in another language or format, require assistance to complete it, or if you have any concerns or questions, please email E.Cropper@disabilitypartnership.org.uk or call 01925 240 064.
Further information about the Community Champions project can be viewed on the council’s website at warrington.gov.uk/community-champions.